Martin Hilton, Director of Learning & Education at CPL Learning, is also a qualified Beer Sommelier through the Beer Academy and a beer trainer and assessor. Martin has also set up a small pop-up bar that has been serving award-winning ales and craft lager since the easing of lockdown. Here he shares his five simple tips for serving great beer this International Beer Day.
Most beer is pretty good beer, even if you don’t personally like the style. The quality and range of beer in the UK and around the world is incredible, which is giving the customer unbelievable choice. But do we always serve it at its best? In my experience, sadly, I don’t think we do, and frustratingly it is the simple things that can make a huge difference. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help serve great beer.
Keep it Clean – Everything! From the cellar to the glass. Ensure your glass wash is drained and cleaned daily and given a thorough clean weekly. Only put glasses in the glasswasher. Coffee cups and bar equipment will add grease to the glasswasher, which will end up on the glasses. Often glasses look clean but may be suffering from a build-up of detergent or grease, which stops the glass supporting the presentation of the beer and the retention of the head. We first enjoy a beer with our eyes, and the presentation should be as good as it can be. A clean, fresh, dry and cool glass every time.
Make it nice – Pouring beer is a skill. A lot of people do it, so we think it is easy, but it’s easy to get it wrong, and a lot of people pour beer badly. We wouldn’t accept poor plate presentation of our food, don’t accept pouring a bad beer. Take your time – pouring beer quickly often requires us to wait for the beer to settle, meaning it takes longer to finish making the drink. This also often results in us overpouring the beer and putting waste into the beer trays. That foam is beer! It doesn’t come from anywhere else, so loads of frothy overpour is wasting beer!
Be professional – Why have an untidy and dirty cellar when you could have a tidy and clean one for barely any more effort? Put stuff away, clean as you go and give it a good clean once a week.
Get engaged – Lots of folk love talking about and reading about beer and becoming experts but you don’t have to an expert be to engage in beer with guests. How’s your beer? Do you like light (e.g. lagers, pale ales) or dark (e.g. bitters, stouts) beer best? Do you like hoppy (IPA, Pale Ales) or sweeter (stouts or beer with fruits) beers? How does it go with your food? Remember, there are no right or wrong answers; it’s all about opinions, and by engaging, you will pick up confidence and knowledge quickly, and guests will really appreciate it.
Keep it fresh – the length of time any draught beer is on sale has a big effect on quality so, don’t over do the number you have on at any one time. Better to offer slightly less choice but high quality than to have lots of choice of poor quality.