“Belgians do beer the best,” says Andrew Noll. Having worked as a bartender at Perth’s Belgian Beer Café for the past 18 months, Noll speaks from first-hand experience. But he thinks it also has something to do with ritual.
“One of the most common responses I receive is that it’s the best tasting Stella Artois in Perth,” says Noll, “and I think that comes from people watching the process and getting that feeling of quality. They can see care going into the presentation of their beer.”
He may have won the title by adhering to exacting standards, but Noll is confident anyone can recreate the effect at home.
First, ready a bottle of Stella Artois by the sink along with a blunt knife and glass. “If you don’t have a chalice, you want a glass that’s as similar a shape as possible,” says Noll. “The way it narrows at the top stops the head from dying down.” Next, make sure your glass is clean. “You want to wash the glass down as thoroughly as possible,” explains Noll. “If you have anything like dust or soap inside the beer glass it will go flat quite quickly. There’ll be no liveliness or carbonation, and it won’t be as refreshing.”
Next step: the pour. Noll says to tip the bottle at a 45-degree angle to the glass, and aim for a foam build up of around three centimetres at the lip. Surprisingly, Noll says overflow is encouraged. “Get the foam to cascade down the side of the glass,” says Noll. “It gets rid of the big bubbles and actually makes the head last longer. Cascading protects the beer from oxygen.”
Once the foam has settled, use a blunt knife to skim the top of the glass, a process known as “skimming”. “The skimming gets rid of those big bubbles at the top, which actually taste bitter,” says Noll. “You end up with a perfectly formed dome of really fine foam.”
The process, says Noll, should lead to the perfect beer. “You can use the tap to wash the outside of the glass, and let it drain for a few seconds. Then you’re away.”
Photos: Murray Robinson, a two-time World Draught Masters National Finalist, shows us how to do the perfect pour at home.
This article is presented in partnership with Stella Artois.