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How to pour the perfect Belgian beer

While you may be accustomed to cracking open a beer with a spatula and drinking straight from the bottle, there is an artform to beer pouring and, when done correctly, the process is a true theatrical experience.

Tom Lootz of Mission Bay's De Fontein Belgian Beer Café was the winner of the New Zealand Stella Artois Draught Master's competition in 2012 and will be a judge at this year's competition.

For Tom, and his fellow bartenders at the Auckland Belgian Beer Cafes, it is important to get the beer pouring process right. In the case of Stella Artois, the beer has been around since 1366 so continuing the centuries-old beer pouring traditions is a mark of respect which honours that history.

Tom says that thanks to this traditional approach to beer pouring "customers don't just come in for a drinking experience; they come in for a beer experience." The process takes on a life of its own and becomes a show in itself, which creates conversation and an opportunity for the Belgian Beer Café staff to show their customers what the art of pouring the perfect beer is all about.

With six beers on tap that are all poured using this nine-step process and 116 bottled Belgian beers available, the Belgian Beer Café's offer a unique European beer experience in the heart of Auckland.

You can see the art of Belgian beer pouring at De Fontein, The Occidental in Vulcan Lane, Mt Eden's De Post or at The Ponsonby Belgian Beer Café in the hearty of Ponsonby.

Below, Tom takes us through the sacred nine-step process of how to pour the perfect beer.

Step 1: The Purification

The first step in the process is to purify the glass, or 'chalice', in which the beer is served. This is done by holding the chalice by its stem, washing it in warm soapy water and then rinsing it in fresh water.

Step 2: The Sacrifice

The bartender opens the tap and lets a small amount of beer flow out of it without going into the glass. This ensures that any stale beer that may have been sitting in the tap has now been released.

Step 3: The Liquid Alchemy

The glass is held at a perfect 45 degree angle before the beer is poured. Tom explains that both the shape of the glass and the angle at which you hold it contribute to creating the perfect pour and each element is essential for allowing the flavours to circulate and come together harmoniously.

Step 4: The Head

The bartender pours the beer into the glass and then drops the glass out of the angle and lowers it to create the head of the beer. Creating the correct balance between beer and foam is a critical part of the process.

Step 5: The Removal

Having created the perfect pour, the bartender lets the last few drops in the tap fall away from the glass to ensure that the last drips of beer do not spoil the head.

Step 6: The Beheading

While the foam from the head is flowing over the edge of the glass, the bartender scrapes it gently with a knife held on a 45-degree angle. This takes away larger, oxidised bubbles on the top of the beer which can taint the flavour. A robust head is left behind which acts as a protector and keeps the beer cold for longer.

Step 7: The Cleansing

This step is the first that really focusses on how the beer will be presented to the customer. The glass is rinsed in clean water to remove anything from the sides.

Step 8: The Judgement

The bartender then holds the glass up to inspect the pour and ensure that it is perfect before being served. If he does not feel the work is up to scratch then the process must be done again.

Step 9: The Bestowal

The beer is presented to the customer on the beer's own branded coaster which is placed to the right of the customer facing towards them. The beer is placed in front of them with the glass's logo also facing towards the customer.

Now you've read that, you should check out the best beer gardens in Auckland.

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Comments (1 comments)

  • patrickisready

    Hmm...interesting...it's something new to try out.

    9:30AM, 8th Mar 2013

  1. 77 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Auckland City, Auckland

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