Food & Drink

How to Pour the Perfect Beer

Written by Kirsten Wendlandt

Since 1864, Heineken has mastered the art of the perfect pour. Here’s how to get the best out of your beer.

It was 1864 in the heart of Amsterdam, somewhere along the Singelgracht, where the first Heineken was brewed at the Old Heineken brewery. To this day you’ll find their signs dotted along the canal-lined streets and a strong sense of just how important and celebrated this beer is to the city. What started as a small, locally brewed beer in the heart of Amsterdam has grown to become one of the most globally recognized and loved beers in the world. Consumed in 192 different countries, there’s no denying that Heineken has built itself a reputation as a quality beer. But what is it that sets them apart from the rest?

An afternoon spent at the Old Heineken Brewery was all we needed to get a grasp of everything that has contributed to making Heineken the beer it is today. It starts with the basics: a trusted recipe, reliable and carefully selected ingredients, and a brewing process that’s been mastered over the years. While the production process is essential, the same can be said about the delivery. That is, how the beer is served and enjoyed. After all, what good is an exceptional product if it isn’t consumed properly to optimize the best that it has to offer? For Heineken, that last bit involves a very carefully designed and globally consistent pouring ritual.

While in Amsterdam, we took a private class at Heineken’s Draught University to discover what is involved in the perfect glass of beer. It’s something that they take seriously. So much so that they’ve come up with their 5-Star Serve program that serves as the global standard for anyone serving up a cold one. 

— The Heineken 5-Star Serve —

Step 1: RINSE

The first step begins with the rinsing of the glass to ensure it is cleaned thoroughly. Leftover soap from dishwashers or dust particles can result in large bubbles that will affect the quality of the beer. Once the glass is clean it is to be held at a 45-degree angle, a good distance from the spout. The first bit of beer that comes out of the spout is to be discarded before putting the glass under the stream. This is to ensure that only the best quality beer makes its way into the glass. 

STEP 2: POUR

After running the tap for a second, the Heineken is poured into the glass. As you’re doing so, the glass is to be straightened near the end until the beer reaches the top. Set the glass down and turn the tap off once the beer reaches the top.

STEP 3: SKIM

Once the glass is set down, the top of the foam is to be skimmed to ensure the perfect amount of head. This is important to avoid oxidation, which impacts the taste and quality of the beer, as the foam keeps the oxygen out and the carbon dioxide in. 

STEPS 4-5: CHECK AND SERVE

Once you’ve gone through these steps, the beer is ready to be served. Heineken uses the star quality measurement to ensure a perfect pour, meaning the bottom of the foam should align perfectly with the shoulders of the star on the Heineken glass.

While some of the steps in this process may seem obvious, each one holds a very important value to the pouring process required to ensure quality from the tap to the glass. Although there are a variety of factors that go into making Heineken the quality beer it is today, it is this dedication and precision to maintaining consistency in quality in every glass that is poured around the globe that truly makes them stand out.