Serving Beer Froth

How do I pour my beer to create the right head of foam? That depends on the beer style, the glass design, and even personal preferences.

How Much Foam?

Most people try creating about .75 inches (19 mm) thick of foam when they pour a beer. A qualitative measure is the width of a finger.

The type of conditioning a beer style (N2 or CO2) affects how to pour the beer into a glass. Nitrogen does not dissolve well in beer, so beer styles with nitrogen conditioning form a head of foam right away. Carbonation does dissolve well in beer. Different beer styles have different levels of carbonation conditioning dissolved in them, which are measured in "volumes." Beers with a higher number of volumes can have a larger initial head of foam, while beers with a lower number of volumes CO2 should have a smaller initial head of foam.

Pouring Technique

The type of conditioning a beer style (N2 or CO2) affects how to pour the beer into a glass. Nitrogen does not dissolve well in beer, so beer styles with nitrogen conditioning release all the N2 right away and pouring does not make a difference. Carbonation does dissolve well in beer. To release carbonation, energy needs to be added to the beer. This energy can be in the form of heat, light, mechanical vibration/shock. The more vigorously a person pours a carbonated beer, the larger its head of foam will be.

If a beer is poured with a larger initial head of foam, its head of foam will be smaller or nothing toward the end.