Pouring From a Bottle
Bottle conditioned beer needs a bit more attention than force-carbonated commercially bottled beer. Depending on the style of the beer, you may or may not want to include the settled yeast cake, from the bottom of the bottle, in your pour. That having been said, the vast majority of beer styles call for leaving as much of the yeast behind as possible. When pouring these:
- Pick an appropriately-shaped glass. When in doubt, use goblet-style glasses that concentrate the aromas towards your nose like a fine wine glass.
- Chill the beer, but allow it to warm up for a few minutes if it's been in the refrigerator. Typical fridge temps are too cold for most ales, and when consumed too cold, the beer tends to "close down", exhibiting lean qualities and coming across as sparse and uninteresting. Here, too, serving temps depend highly on the style of beer being served.
- During refrigeration, take care to store bottles upright, keeping the yeast cake from being disturbed.
- Carefully pop the cap without agitating the bottle unnecessarily.
- Slowly pour the contents into the glass, while closely watching the color of the beer as it comes out of the bottle. As soon as you see any signs of cloudiness, stop the pour. You will likely end up leaving as much as a half an inch of beer in the bottle, but the results are preferable. With many styles, the yeasty/bready flavors that the yeast cake brings along is undesirable.
- Immediately after pouring, rinse the bottle thoroughly for easy re-use.
Certain styles benefit from the inclusion of the yeast cake. Many wheat beers and Belgian styles have a distinct yeasty character that is further enhanced by the cake. In this method, less care is necessary during the pour. Simply pour as you would a normal beer, but when you get down to the last inch or so, stop pouring. Swirl the remaining liquid around to rouse the yeast cake, and resume pouring until the bottle is empty.