How To Pour The Perfect IPA
I drink a lot of India Pale Ales (IPAs). It’s the most popular style and I really enjoy them. Which led me to wonder, what tips could I share on how to pour the perfect IPA.
It’s easy to overlook the process of getting beer from a bottle or can into a glass but there’s value in getting the most out of your beer. I’m sure you’ve been served a beer that was 90% head. Or maybe you got a stout in a frozen mug. So the proper pour matters.
While there’s a wrong and right way to do things; there’s also the way I do it. So the following is how I pour the perfect IPA. Take what you can from it and then let me know how you pour the perfect IPA.
Craft beer temperature is important. Not all craft beer is designed to be enjoyed ice cold. In fact, only a few styles fall into that category.
Most recommend a 45 – 50 degrees for IPAs. Maybe even a touch warmer for double IPAs.
But measuring temperature isn’t really that convenient; at least not for me. Luckily, I keep most of my beer in a spare refrigerator that I keep a touch warmer than a standard refrigerator.
If you are pulling the beer out of an ice cold refrigerator, I would recommend letting sit for five or so minutes to take the deep chill off of it.
Related Article: Craft Beer Temperature
Using proper glassware is a really popular topic in craft beer.
While I do think it’s important, the bottom line is not everyone is willing or able to invest in having every type of glassware needed.
But if you are an IPA fan, then I would suggest getting an IPA glass.
An IPA glass is uniquely designed to provide the best aroma and flavor. Designed in collaboration with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, this glass was chosen from hundreds of possible options.
The rippled base provides agitation with each drink to ensure the hop aromatics are released throughout the drinking experience.
The top captures these aromas while also providing a wide opening for easy drinking.
This glass amplifies all of the aspects of the IPA.
As with all glassware, it must be clean to ensure that oils or other debris do not have an impact the flavor of the beer. You’ll know if the glass was dirty if carbonation bubbles stick to the side of the glass.
Also, be aware that these glasses are high quality but are very thin. This allows for minimal heat transfer (aka your beer stays cold longer) but also makes it very fragile.
If you choose not to purchase an IPA glass, then ensure the glass you are using is clean and do not freeze it. Ice crystals are bad for beer.
You may ask, do I even need a glass?
That’s up to you; I almost always pour my beer into a glass. The process of pouring creates the head, helps open up the aroma and lets you appreciate the appearance. But there are many that enjoy beer right from the can or bottle.
Now that you have the glass picked out, it’s time to pour your beer.
Holding your glass at 45 degrees, begin pouring the beer down the side of the glass. Aim for about half way down the glass.
Once you’ve poured about half of the beer, return the glass to an upright position and continue pouring.
You can increase the space between the can/bottle and the glass to increase agitation and the head it produces.
The goal would be to create a 1 – 1 1/2 inch head of foam on the beer. The head will help release aromatics from the hops.
Some beers will easily produce lots of head while others have almost none. Most IPAs will easily produce a white to off-white head.
For New England IPAs, I’ve begun stopping the pour with about 1 or so ounces left. I swirl the can around with the goal of making sure to capture any residual debris before I pour the last ounce into the glass. This style has been know to settle so this helps reduce the impact.
Not sure where I picked up that last tip but I am sure it has something to do with maintaining the “hazy” appearance of the beer. But that is a highly debated topic all on its own.
Presentation, Aroma & Taste
The goal was to learn how to pour the perfect IPA but I can’t end it without talking about the rest of the process.
Take a second to appreciate the appearance of the IPA. Some will be translucent while others are opaque. The New England IPAs are often orange while other traditional IPAs will have a gold, amber or yellow tone.
Breathing in with your mouth closed, smell the IPA. Then repeat with your mouth open. You should get strong hop aromas that help prepare you to enjoy the flavor.
At first take small sips and repeat smelling the beer. This will help align the aroma and flavor.
After that, enjoy as you wish. I normally drink slowly to allow the beer to warm up. The change in temperature will often reveal a change in flavor.
Is This Too Much?
Is all of this really necessary? Great question.
No, it isn’t necessary. But for those of us that really get into our craft beer, it adds to the enjoyment of drinking a beer.
It’s possible to open a beer and drink right from the can or bottle. There’s really no wrong or right way to do it. I feel that using glassware helps add to every element of the beer. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow along.
And there are many times when this process is just not feasible. For example, camping, grilling out, tailgating, etc. Or those times when you don’t want to seem like a pretentious beer drinker.
If you like IPAs, this should be a great guide on enjoying them even more but don’t ever let tips like this take the fun out of craft beer. This is just what I do to get the most out of every glass of IPA that I drink.
Drink what you like and enjoy it the way you like.
Do You Own An IPA Glass Or Any Other Style Specific Glassware?