To bring out the best in a beer, consider first what kind of beer it is, and, second, the details that make a difference in its appreciation. These include the best time for drinking, the serving temperature, the glass it’s served in and even the way it’s served.
In general, beers from the lager branch of the family are ready for drinking when they’re sold. They’ll keep for six months, however, and some will be fine for a year or more.
4°C to 6°C
Stemless and elongated in shape—but whether it’s a flute or a mug, it must be perfectly clean.
Rinse the glass with cold water before pouring the beer to make the head last longer. Tip the glass and pour the beer onto the side until the glass is two-thirds full. Then hold the glass straight up and gradually move the bottle away to form a head of foam about two fingers deep. Use a knife or spatula to burst the biggest bubbles so the head of foam lasts longer.
Certain ales—strong or extra-strong—that undergo secondary fermentation after bottling can be kept for several years, ideally at 6°C to 10°C.
5°C to 12°C
Use a stemmed beer glass shaped like a chalice—again, perfectly spotless.
Pour immediately into a dry glass. You don’t always have to rinse the glass—it depends on the type of beer and the consistency of the foam. Tip the glass while pouring, then hold it straight up until the head of foam is just the way you like it. Leave a little beer in the bottle so you don’t pour out the dregs. White beers and more acid beers should be served very cold, while strong or extra-strong beers that undergo secondary fermentation after bottling may be served at a higher temperature.
Serving spontaneous fermentation beer
Some of the beers in this branch of the family have foam that evaporates quickly.
Around 5°C for Lambics; roughly 10°C for Krieks.
Elongated and stemless, as for lagers.
Pour into a clean, newly rinsed glass. To get a nice head of foam, don’t let too much beer hit the side of the glass.