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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Drink This Now

How to Pour a Pilsner

Pilsner Urquell Four Ways

Most American bartenders pour beer incorrectly. At least, that's according to New York's new Czech-inspired beer bar Hospoda, where the staff is trained to generate proper foam, not avoid it. Hospoda even serves draft Pilsner Urquell (the original pilsner) four different and precise ways featuring different levels of suds. “When you have the proper head and the proper glass it can change the taste of the beer substantially,” says beverage director Steven Rhea. Here, he expounds on the benefits of foam, explains Hospoda's various pour styles and offers tips for beer drinkers at home.

The Crème. “This is the most common way to pour a beer anywhere in the world—except for some American bars it seems, which offer no foam on top. You should expect at least two to three fingers of foam, which opens up the beer,” says Rhea. To create the Crème, bartenders open up the tap just slightly, allowing a little bit of beer to come through the microscreens in the tap, exposing it to the air and creating a thick head. After a few seconds, bartenders move the glass up and open the tap completely, pouring the beer under the head at a 45-degree angle. “The head creates a barrier between the beer and oxygen so that the beer will taste less tainted.”

The Slice. “The Slice is symbolic of dragging your mug through the keg and coming up with mostly foam and a little bit of beer on the bottom.” According to Rhea, the style was popularized in the 1970s when Pilsner was advertised as the workingman’s beer. “It’s something in between, for the man who wants to be practical but also wants to enjoy himself. He doesn’t want to drink a big beer because that’s a lot of beer and he has something to do afterwards, but he doesn’t want to drink a small beer because that would diminish his masculinity. So he drinks a Slice.” The Slice is created similarly to the crème but the bartender allows more foam to come through. “I find the pleasure is more in the texture—you have this rich, creamy foam top. It’s just a little more satisfying,” Rhea says.

The Sweet. You won’t be able to find this pour in the Czech Republic; it’s a Hospoda original. Essentially, it’s a glass of foam (it's better than it sounds). Served only in a small size, the Sweet takes the longest of all the pours and is the most precise. “If you pour too slowly it will start to settle by the time you finish. If you pour too quickly it will settle because it’s not going through the microscreen slow enough to create that friction,” Rhea says. “It’s a fine science.” Customers are encouraged to drink the lightly sweet foam quickly. Rhea suggests drinking it as a toast or on Christmas Eve since it looks like snow.

The Neat. Also known as the chochtan, this is the style most commonly seen in the U.S. It has no head. “It’s done in the U.S. because people want to maximize how much beer they’re drinking,” Rhea says. “Generally it’s more bitter and less open. You won’t get the subtle aromas. It’s like drinking red wine from something really tiny or drinking whiskey out of an eyedropper.” That said, Rhea does like to pair the bitter style with a hearty dish like pork chops or steak. To pour a Neat, bartenders clear the lines by letting the tap run for a few seconds until the beer becomes clear, then slip the glass under the stream at a 45-degree angle. “You have to be gentle because any sort of sudden movement will create a head,” Rhea says.

How to Pour Beer (with Foam) at Home

1. Opt for a beer with some weight to it like a Belgian or a German Hefeweizen—or Pilsner Urquell. They hold the head longer.
2. Use a tulip glass or a wine glass. “But resist the urge to swirl the beer around in a wine glass, which makes it flat,” Rhea says.
3. Make sure your glass is dry and slightly chilled.
4. Pour at 45-degrees with vigor.
5. If no foam comes out, try swirling the beer around in the bottle before pouring. “That would be faking it,” Rhea says. But it would work.

Related: America's Best Beer Gardens
How to Cook with Beer
Jim Meehan's Top 10 Best New Bars in the U.S.

Hungry Crowd

From Boy Band to Brewering: Taylor Hanson Talks Mmmhops, Craft Beers & Cooking

Hanson

Photograph of Hanson © Jiro Schneider

F&W apologizes in advance for reintroducing the almost unbearably catchy song “MMMBop” back into your psyche. But the 1997 mega-hit from Hanson, the pop band made up of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, has to be mentioned because of a new side project that you would probably never have associated with the baby-faced group: beer. In honor of the band’s 21-year existence, Hanson is releasing Mmmhops, a pale ale produced in partnership with Mustang, a craft brewery based in the Hansons’ home state of Oklahoma. Before it hits the shelves across the country, Mmmhops will be sold on the band’s upcoming tour starting in September. Middle brother and lead singer (as well as keyboardist and guitar player) Taylor Hanson chatted with F&W about good beer and yet another talent, cooking.

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Tasting Room

Exercise Your Beer Know-How

Organized roughly from least to most intense—from mild Hefeweizen all the way to robustly sweet and bitter Imperial Stout—this chart gives a general sense of beer style so you can train yourself to be a better taster. Dave McLean also rates hops flavor from one dot (peppery or citrusy) to five (full of “green” tastes, like pine needles) and malt flavor from last to most toasty.

Beer Chart

 

Related:
Train Yourself to be a Better Beer Taster

Awesome Canned Craft Beer
Cooking with Beer

Tasting Room

Awesome Canned Craft Beer

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada.
Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

There are now more than 180 craft breweries putting their brew into cans (out of about 875 total, not counting brewpubs). And that’s a fine thing. I mean, it may be 20 degrees outside, but you’ve still got to drink something at the beach, right? Here are 5 great canned craft beers. »

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Tasting Room

Yet Another Reason to Drink Beer

© David Tsay
© David Tsay

© David Tsay

It’s possible you may have missed it, but just before Christmas a team of scientists in Seattle managed to determine the absolute configurations of isohumulones in beer!

Relieved, aren’t you? Me too. But no matter what you think, it’s evidence of sorts that people’s curiosity about beer knows no bounds; and in this case, their curiosity about how hops work.

Hops (the female flower of the hop plant) impart bitterness, and also—depending on the hop strain—resinous, piney and/or citrusy/tangy notes. Most beers have some hop character; over the years various craft brewers have also been obsessed with pushing the envelope of how hoppy a beer can get. In the wrong hands, this obsession can result in undrinkably bitter haaargh-water, but for a talented brewer it can result in beers that are delicious in large part because of their complete, crazy, in-your-face hoppiness. For the adventurous, here are 9 extremely hoppy beers that also happen to be extremely good. »

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Tasting Room

Best Super Bowl Chicken Wings and Beers

© Hector Sanchez
© Hector Sanchez

© Hector Sanchez

My secret theory about why chicken wings and football go so well together can be demonstrated by a very simple experiment. First, go to the store and buy a chicken. Next, remove its wings. Next, truss its little feet together. Now paint it brown. What does it look like? Exactly: a football. Chickens are footballs, except for the wings. And that’s why when we watch football, we eat chicken wings. 5 perfect beer and wings pairings. »

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Tasting Room

Great Winter Beers That Don't Taste Like Spiced Pop-Tarts

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Few issues in the world are truly black-and-white. Cats, for instance. Some people think they’re nice pets; some people think they’re furry little narcissists who’d happily dine on your face if there were ever a complete collapse of civilization due to a nuclear apocalypse.  But one thing that can be divided into simple, black-and-white categories is winter beers. Basically, there are the ones that taste like something your grandmother would bake, and the ones that don’t. Here, six great winter beers.>>

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Wine Wednesday

Brunch Drinks

© Tina Rupp

Try pairing the three drinks below with a fantastic brunch recipe, like this Smoked-Salmon Scramble with Dill Griddle Biscuits. // © Tina Rupp

Ah, brunch. People go bonkers for brunch. Say the word “brunch,” and your friends will say things like, “Yeah! Great! Let’s do it!” Unless they have kids, in which case they’ll look sort of morose, because instead of going to brunch with you they’re going to be at a birthday party for five-year-olds. But that’s the human condition: Sunday-morning cocktails, then offspring, and finally death.

Be that as it may, in terms of drink options, folks tend to default to one of three things: a mimosa, usually made with some Minute Maid and a bottle of random sparkling wine that someone brought over six months ago; a Bloody Mary (which I’m not knocking at all); or Champagne. Yet because life is short and the human condition is dire, why not experiment while you still have a chance? 3 Fantastic Brunch Drinks. »

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Wine Wednesday

Spooky Halloween Wines

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Grilled Beef Ribs with Smoky-Sweet Barbecue Sauce // © John Kernick

Pair chef David Burtka's frighteningly human-like beef back ribs with one of these spooky Halloween wines. / © John Kernick

Here’s the way I see it with Halloween wines. There are plenty of wines out there that are propelled by some sort of marketing gimmick—Dracula’s favorite Transylvanian Zinfandel, 2012 Mr. Bones Bug Juice, what have you—but there are also some wines that more organically have a spooky Halloween vibe to them. Here are a few possibilities that would be appropriate served out of black glasses in a Haunted House, and that also actually taste good. The list of Halloween-ready booze. »

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Editor Obsession

Cheese, Beer and The Fabulous Beekman Boys

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Beekman 1802 Blaak

Justin Chapple

This week, the Beekman Boys (whose fabulous show is moving to the Cooking Channel in September) released their second batch of Beekman 1802 Blaak cheese at a party held at the unrelated Beekman Beer Garden in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.