More often than not, we take swigs out of our beer straight from the bottle or can – is there something wrong with that? Well, it depends on what you’re after. Are you looking to get drunk, or to just wash down your meal? Or are you looking to have a more fully defined sensory experience and really enjoy what you’re about to consume? If it’s the latter, we suggest you start pouring from now on. I guess our predisposition to consuming it in the former way is the result of our culture and how we, Filipinos, perceive beer. It’s always been largely a tool for merrymaking and, let’s admit it, intoxication. Fortunately, however, more and more craft breweries have been opening up in the Philippines and giving us an opportunity for a more worldly beer experience. Yes, as we’ve mentioned time and time again, there’s more to beer than just its alcohol content.
There are a number of reasons why you should pour your beer in a glass—and not just any glass, but the appropriate, clean glass. Like wine, there is glassware that has been crafted to highlight the flavor, appearance, and scent of the beer (we’ll talk more about what styles of glassware are appropriate for which styles of beer in a later post). First thing’s first: when it comes to food and beverage, aesthetics matter. Sure, the bottle looks swanky and the beer label hip, but that’s not even half of it. What any serious beer enthusiast should know or already knows is that without pouring your beer you will never be able to marvel at its beauty. A little too dramatic for you? Maybe, but seriously, appreciation of consistency, color, clarity, head structure, effervescence, and lacing amplify the beer experience, and you can’t get any of that if your beer stays in the bottle. It’s all an integral part of the presentation. And the beer head, come on, isn’t that reason enough to pour your beer? Throw out the misguided belief that you’ll get more for your money when drinking beer without the head or other such nonsense. A nice, one-finger-tall, foamy, frothy head helps keep your beer in the best condition until and while you drink it. Why? Let’s get scientific. When beer foams, it’s obviously due to the creation of little bubbles. This is a process called “nucleation” – the physics of nucleation isn’t entirely understood, but what we do understand is that certain proteins present in barley and hops are what we call “foam positive agents,” which are exactly what you think they are. These proteins are essentially really hydrophobic – that is, they don’t like water – so they’d much rather hitch a ride on a rising carbon dioxide bubble dissolved in the beer and liberated by the action of an aggressive pour in to a glass. These proteins then cross-link and form a dense mass of foam on the surface of a beer – and voila, head. And foam has a huge effect on flavor and aroma. Certain compounds are prevented from evaporating out of your beer by the presence of this head, and certain other compounds (like oxygen) are kept out of your beer by the same. Foam also has a big trigeminal effect, which is the word used to describe the “feel” of a taste (think how “cool” mint is, or how “hot” chili peppers are) – the creamy, fluffy head can smooth out the flavor profile of a beer considerably via this effect. And those volatile aromatics–“smells,” for the layperson–are important. Fact, the olfactory sense plays a big part in tasting. Flavor = taste + aroma. Without these, much of what we taste would be one-dimensional, bland even. When we consume food or beverage, it gives off aroma vapors that are detected by the gustatory system receptors in the back of the mouth. Because the rim of the beer of a bottle is so narrow, very little of those vapors escape and reach those receptors; however, by pouring your beer, you not only allow it to agitate but also serve it in a vessel with a wide enough mouth to allow the vapors to volatilize, escape, and reach their final destination, allowing the beer to reveal its aromas, texture, and carbonation. I can go on and on about why you should pour your beer, but the bottom line is this: beer tastes good in a bottle or can, but it tastes infinitely better when you pour it. Give it a try and taste the difference.
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