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.