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How to pour a draught beer

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Every bartender should know the proper way to pour a beer out of a tap. Sure, from the customer’s side of the bar it may look easy, but good bartenders know that working a tap beer system takes a bit of finesse and know-how. If you don’t believe us, go to any local bar and watch uneducated bartenders pouring beer the wrong way. Half of the glass ends up with foamy beer, forcing the bartender to dump out the suds and start over. Or worse yet, beer splashes over the side of the glass. Pretty messy, right? Like other bartending skills, learning how to pour a beer properly is a process that must be learned and then practiced to perfection. It’s not that difficult, really. What it all comes down to is just four simple steps. Learn them and you’ll be pouring draught beers like a superstar.

Of course before you begin the process, make certain your taps are in working order. Beer kegs must be properly refrigerated; warm beer will be too foamy to work with. Also, since draught beer systems use gas to push the beer through, make sure your gas supply is within proper working levels. Too little gas, and the beer will trickle out at a snail’s pace. Too much, and the line will hiccup, causing foamy beer to splash out all over you, or your guest.

Every bartender should take a few minutes to learn how to properly pour a beer from the tap. Learning the proper method will mean that you’ll waste less beer, which is good news for your manager. You’ll also appear more professional to others, and you’ll be perceived as a better bartender.

**Special thanks to my "hand model" T.J. Jackson**

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Tilt glass 45 degrees
Tilt glass 45 degrees Robert Stahl

Tilt glass 45 degrees

To begin with, take a clean glass in one hand and stand squarely in front of the draught beer spigot. Place one hand on the spigot. With the other, angle the glass 45 degrees a few inches underneath the spigot.

Begin pouring beer
Begin pouring beer Robert Stahl

Begin pouring beer

Now, pull the spigot. This will release a flow of beer, which will run down the side of the glass and begin collecting in the bottom. (Here’s a bonus tip: Grab low on the spigot with a firm grip to minimize frothiness. If you grab high on the spigot, you inadvertently shake the tap, which agitates the beer and makes it frothy and unmanageable.)

Straighten the glass
Straighten the glass Robert Stahl

Straighten the glass

When the glass is about ¾ full, straighten it by tilting the bottom of the glass away from you. The beer should now be running directly into the center of the glass. This natural agitation will create a foamy head, which is important for the beer’s appearance. Secondly, those sudsy bubbles help create the beer’s aroma, an important feature for your guest’s enjoyment.

A perfectly poured beer
A perfectly poured beer Robert Stahl

A perfectly poured beer

As the glass fills, lower it away from the spigot. The spigot should never actually touch the liquid your guest is about to enjoy. (A mistake many beginner make is letting the head of the spigot touch the beer. Gross.) Close the spigot when the glass is almost full. You should have a thick layer of foamy beer at the top. If you’ve done it correctly, you won’t have spilled any beer. Both your hands and the outside of glass should be dry.

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