The Right Way to Pour a Wheat Beer

For most beers, the rules of pouring are simple: Hold the glass at an angle and pour hard enough to create a pleasant two-inch head. And that topper of foam isn't just for appearance, it helps bring out aroma and enhance the flavor. Occasionally you'll come across a vintage bottle of barleywine or strong abbey ale with sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Like an aged wine, you'll want to decant it more carefully. However, in the special case of wheat beers, you actually want that layer of muck in your glass.

Worry not: The sediment at the bottom of any unfiltered wheat — most commonly German hefeweizens and Belgian witbiers — is simply brewer's yeast and barley protein. And you want to make sure it reaches your glass, because for wheat beers, the sediment is a major flavor component.

"In our Allagash White," says Allagash brewmaster Jason Perkins of his Belgian-style wheat, "you're not going to get as much spice and wheat flavor if the yeast isn't roused."

The most common way to pour a wheat beer is to pour the first three-fourths of the beer like you would any other. Then, swirl the remaining contents to pick up the sediment and dump it on top of your beer. This method, however, fails if your glass is too small, or you've filled it with too much head, and you're left with an ounce or two of beer left in the bottle.

The smarter way to pour a wheat beer, as Perkins demonstrates above, is to rouse the beer before you open the bottle. Holding it upside down and at a 45-degree angle, gently turn the bottle in your hand. The sediment will drop into suspension, and you're free to uncap and pour your beer.