It’s easy to drink a beer—you go to a bar; or a wine shop, buy a pint, or a crate, uncap the bottle, and drink. Over time, you’ll develop a taste for it; or pretend like you did. It’s easy to drink a beer, right? Wrong.
There is something called etiquette and it applies to beer, as much as it applies to any other type of alcohol. And we got the experts at Mahou India—the Indian subsidiary of Spanish brewing major, Mahou San Miguel, a Spanish-owned family company and market leader in Spain—and homegrown beer label, White Rhino’s founder & CEO, Ishaan Puri to dish out on some much needed dough that every beer drinker should acquaint themselves with. So, in case you thought you didn’t need prep work before chugging a beer, think again.
1. The Right Glass
© Yutacar at Unsplash
Just like you prefer one beer over another—because it seems to be the right one for you—ones choice of glass also matters while drinking beer. While you can always look up the different kinds of vessels for drinking beer, Mahou India experts suggest that you try chugging down your beer in ‘caña’ shots, small Spanish glasses. Ishaan adds that when drinking from a glass it’s important to ensure that the glass is totally clean and free from oil, grease, dust and detergent. “Even the slightest bit of dirt will affect the head retention of the beer. You can tell that a glass hasn’t been properly cleaned when you get clusters of tiny bubbles clinging to the base and walls of the glass after pouring,” he explains.
2. The Right Angle
No, we aren’t talking mathematics… not entirely, at least. According to the experts at Mahou India, in order to get yourself the right amount of barm—the creamy foam that forms at the top of the beer that adds to the taste of the beverage—always tilt your glass and pour your beer at an angle of 45â¦, so that cream bubbles to the top.
3. The Checklist
Ishaan says, “I always encourage beer drinkers to read the label of their beer bottle to check for two things—the best before date; that is the expiry date, and the ingredients.” He advises that one should not drink beer that’s very close to its best-before date. “That’s one of the reasons we always encourage outlets to place smaller, frequent orders rather than large orders.”
4. The Ingredients
Stay away from something called ‘adjunct lagers’, warns Ishaan. These are generally commercial brands that use ingredients other than just malt as a source of starch. Examples are sugar, rice, maize, corn syrup, etc. These are essentially cheaper sources of starch and are used to lower production costs. “The consequence of this is that adjunct lagers often need to be brewed using enzyme additives and foam stabilisers, which goes against White Rhino’s brewing philosophy. You can learn a lot about a beer by looking at the ingredients,” reasons Ishaan.
5. The Beer Foods
Food and beer pairings are fun, but nothing is set in stone. It’s all about personal preference at the end of the day. Ishaan suggests that generally, one should opt for an assertive beer that can hold its own when having spicy food or sharp cheeses, for example. And you want subtle beers when eating delicate dishes such as steamed fish. “Usually, my beer of choice with any food is to go with a lager that contains several elements in harmony—sweetness from the malt, a clean bitterness from the hops, medium body and a great feel on the palette,” he quips.
6. The Best Places
The idea is always that one should try to drink local labels, when it comes to beers. Imported beers lose their freshness by the time you get to drink them, so in order to enjoy a particular style of beer, find a brewery that brews the style well and drink local. According to Ishaan, when in Munich, go for Schneider Weisse, Schneider Aventinus or Augustiner. In Prague, drink Pilsners and dark lagers. In England, choose IPAs, Bitters, Stouts and Porters (usually cask ales, if available).
7. The Distinction
How do you tell one beer from another? How do you tell a wheat from a lager? A local from an imported? Your initial introduction to the drink will define how you form a taste for the same. “I would give an amateur beer drinker a copy of The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver,” says Ishaan. “It’s a great read and approaches the subject in a completely non-technical way. And it is a mouthwatering introduction to beer.”