We can all agree that beer is great. What causes a divide is how we drink it. Should you drink beer in the can or a glass?
Drinking beer from a glass allows you to enjoy the full aroma and flavors of the beer. The foam head can also improve the drinking experience and help reduce bloating by decreasing the amount of carbonation you consume. Drinking from a can may be preferable based on the situation, especially if portability or ease of clean-up are important factors.
Keep reading to find out why beer tastes better from a glass, if it’s actually better, and the best way to pour your beer for the perfect head.
Why does beer taste better in a glass?
Beer is the same whether it’s in a bottle or a glass right? You may be surprised to learn that isn’t quite true. Several factors change between a bottle or can and a glass.
Beer tastes better when you pour it into a glass because your sense of taste is so closely tied to your olfactory sense. You will smell more of the beer with your nose in a glass. This brings more flavors to your attention. Beer in a glass will also raise a few degrees. When beer is too cold, many flavors and aromas are muted.
Although taste is subjective, the above factors and a few others can improve the taste of beer for a majority of drinkers. The most important factors that affect the taste of your beer include:
- Aroma generation
- A head of foam
Aroma generation is greatly affected by the transfer from a bottle to a glass. It isn’t just because your nose is closer to the beer.
When you pour a brew into a glass you release some of the suspended carbonation. This carbonation forms what we know as the head. These foam bubbles grab a lot of aromatic compounds and release them as the bubbles pop.
The aroma is released when you drink a beer in a bottle or can but think about the surface area. You won’t get much out of a small opening in either. Every standard beer glass will provide a greater surface area for aroma release.
Want to more about how the head affects your beer? Check out this article!
As for temperature, the typical trend is to drink ice cold beer.
Thankfully, bartenders are turning away from this rule of thumb. While some beers are better ice cold, this is not true for the majority.
The serving temperature depends on the style of beer, but the ideal range is from 38°F to 55°F. In this range, you will get the full experience of your beer’s flavor and aroma. Whether your beer is too cold or not, pouring it into a glass will raise it.
Unless the glass is chilled, that will be one factor in the temperature increase. Additionally, your hands on the glass will warm the beer as you drink. You may notice as the temperature increases that you taste more flavors.
Beyond aroma and temperature is the head of foam itself.
The head brings many benefits, but one of the things it does on its own is change the mouthfeel. The foam adds a fluffy texture that can enhance your experience.
Additionally, since the foam comes from released carbonation the beer itself may feel less carbonated. High carbonation levels can make a beer taste more bitter than normal. By releasing the suspended carbonation you will make your beer a little smoother.
Is beer better when poured into a glass?
While the subjective experience of beer can be improved by a glass, the objective view is a little different.
Though the transfer from a bottle or can to a glass changes a few aspects that may affect your overall enjoyment, it cannot actually make the beer better. A good beer is good whether it’s in a glass or a bottle. The opposite is also true: pouring a bad beer into a glass won’t make it any better.
Sometimes it is better to drink a bad beer in a can or bottle. This is true for all of the same reasons as above. A bad aroma (if it has one at all) will be reduced by the small opening. Additionally, if chilled, the cooler container will keep it cold to mute flavors and aromas.
When you’ve got a lightstruck beer but it’s the only beer available you just want to get it down. In this case, it makes more sense to keep the beer in its original packaging. You won’t release the suspended carbonation. However, this can be a benefit as it can provide some character.
In the end, good beer is better from a glass, but bad beer will always be bad.
Drinking beer from a bottle vs glass
When you drink from a bottle instead of a glass you will get less aroma. The small opening will restrict aroma generation.
However, the neck of the bottle provides a decent place to hold it. If the beer is at the proper temperature, this will prevent your hands from warming it.
One downside of a bottle is the color. Brown bottles are the standard and will protect the beer from becoming skunky. Green and clear bottles are also common, however. These bottles offer little to no light protection.
Drinking beer from a can vs glass
Cans are great for their portability. Some places will not allow glass as it can create a mess if broken. Canned beer will also be protected from light exposure.
That said, they suffer the same poor aroma generation as bottles.
Furthermore, cans will be warmed by your hands unless you have a koozie on hand. Still, you can’t beat the sound of cracking a cold one.
Does drinking beer from a glass reduce bloating?
One of the benefits of drinking beer from a glass no matter the beer is it reduces the feeling of being bloated.
Pouring a beer into a glass can reduce bloating by releasing some of the dissolved carbon dioxide. If you do not drink beer from a glass all of the dissolved carbonation is released inside of your stomach. This increase in gasses in your stomach will cause you to feel bloated.
Another reason you won’t get bloated when drinking beer from a glass is the rate at which you drink. When you drink from a can or bottle you can chug more easily. The faster you drink a beer the less carbonation is released.
Beer will naturally lose carbonation when the pressure of a sealed container is released. As you sip beer in a glass it is losing carbonation over time. As a result, less ends up in your stomach.
How to pour beer into a glass
When you pour a beer into a glass it will generate a head. The question is how to pour without creating too much or too little foam.
The best way to pour beer into a glass is to start with the glass at a 45° angle. Without letting the bottle or can touch the glass, pour the beer onto the side until the glass is over half full. Return the glass to an upright position then pour the rest of the beer into the center.
The glass you use should be able to hold a little more than the entire beer. The extra room is there to contain the head of foam that the second part of your pour will generate.
Why does my beer go flat in a glass?
If you’ve ever poured a beer perfectly but there’s still no head you may be wondering why. The problem isn’t in you or the beer but the glass.
Beer can go flat in a glass if the glass is dirty or not “beer clean.” Residue on the inside of your glass will cause the carbonation to release quickly. The two main culprits are residues made up of fat or grease.
Some soaps will also leave a residue that does the same thing. This residue can be transparent and hard to see. However, when you pour a beer in it will become readily apparent. The best way to avoid this is to rinse out your glass with water before pouring.