Serving Draught Beer

Serving Draught Beer

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Pouring a beer correctly from a draft system is one of the best skills you can have when dealing with serving beer. It seems like everyone has their own way to pour a draught beer, but there is really only one correct way. Pouring a beer from a draught is a science more than it is an art. How you do it will either make the beer turn out correctly or make it over/under foam, as well as probably waste some beer. Let’s check out how to pour a draught beer correctly.


First, you may have noticed I used two terms that pretty much mean the same thing. You probably see the term “draft” used quite often. This is an Americanized version of the word “draught,” which was a middle-english word used primarily in England which means “to draw.” This refers to the act of using a hand pump on a cask of beer, which is pumped and the beer is literally drawn up and into a glass. Both words are pronounced the exact same way.


Pouring The Perfect Draught Beer

  1. The first important part to pouring a draught beer is before you even let the beer flow. Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle about 1 inch below the tap faucet. Once the glass is in place, grip the tap handle near the base, and quickly pull it forward to completely open the flow of beer. Never open the tap partially. This will cause over-foaming. The tap should always be in one of two positions, on or off. Never in-between.
  2. Once the tap is open, let the beer flow down the side of the glass until the glass is half full. Make sure you are still holding the glass at a 45 degree angle while this is happening, and DO NOT let the tap faucet touch the glass. Once half the glass is full, continue your pour while you gently tilt the glass upright and pour down the center of the glass to create about a 1″ head of foam as you finish the pour.
  3. Once the pour is complete with the foam at the top of the glass, quickly turn the tap off by closing the handle. There is no reason to pour foam off of a beer. If a beer pour foams more than expected, let the beer rest until the head calms down, and finish your pour. This prevents beer waste.

Never let the tap faucet come in contact with the glass or the beer. The tap faucet should never touch any part of the beer, and should definitely never become immersed in the beer itself. This is important, as to not transfer anything that might be on the outside of the tap into the beer you are pouring.


2. Changing A Keg

Along with serving a draught beer, you need to know how to change a keg correctly. This skill is useful not only for serving beer, but for your home-brew once you step up to kegging.

  1. The first important step here is to make sure the keg is allowed to rest and chill in the cooler for at least 24 hours before tapping. This will give the beer the proper temperature as well as help with over foaming.
  2. Next, if you are dealing with a standard American or import Sankey keg, grip the coupler handle and pull it out and then up, to disengage it. Turn the coupler a quarter turn counterclockwise to unseat it. Once this is complete, you should be able to unseat it from the keg you are removing. Making sure the coupler doesn’t fall or get damaged, move the empty keg out of the way, and move the new, full keg into place.
  3. Once the new keg is in place, we will basically reverse the removal process. Place the coupler into its seat on the new keg and give it a quarter turn clockwise to engage it. Once the turn is complete, lower the coupler handle by pulling out and pulling it down. It will lock into place securely if done correctly.
  4. If you are using a long-draw system, these can have a foam-on-beer (FOB) detector that needs to be reset after a keg change. This varies by manufacturer, but is generally done by venting the FOB mechanism to release foam and fas from the chamber.


Well, that’s it. Those are the basics you need to know for pouring a draft beer. From holding the glass to changing a keg. This ends Part 1 of the Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam study guide. The next post will start part 2, and we will start talking about beer styles and overall characteristics. Click here to review the previous posts in the series.


Until then,






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