The per­fect pour

Get­ting a mug of beer ex­actly right isn’t easy, we dis­cover at the Global Bar­tender Fi­nals in Am­s­ter­dam.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHAEL CHEANG star2@thes­

RINSE, pour, skim, check, and serve. Rinse, pour, skim, check, and serve. Malaysian Jimmy Goh had prob­a­bly gone through the steps of Heineken’s Five-Step Star Serve rit­ual to pour the best pos­si­ble glass of Heineken beer thou­sands of times, but this would be the most im­por­tant rins­ing, pour­ing, skim­ming, check­ing and serv­ing he would ever do in his life.

Goh was up on stage at the fi­nal of the 2013 Heineken Global Bar­tender Fi­nals at The Heineken Ex­pe­ri­ence event in Am­s­ter­dam in The Nether­lands, fac­ing off against home­town favourite Sander van Vee­nen­daal for the ti­tle of Heineken’s Best Bar­tender in The World.

To do so, he had to pour two per­fect pints of beer ac­cord­ing to the Star Serve rit­ual, put it on a tray, then walk with the tray down a short slop­ing path­way, and serve the beer to the panel of judges. Sounds easy? Tell that to the 18 other con­tes­tants from all over the world who Goh and van Vee­nen­daal had to beat in or­der to get to the fi­nal show­down that we at­tended last month.

Goh was one of 20 top bar­tenders from Heineken Star Serve out­lets all over the world vy­ing for that ti­tle, all of whom have per­fected the art of pour­ing a Heineken ac­cord­ing to the Five-Step Star Serve rit­ual. They may have poured hun­dreds, or even thou­sands of Heinekens be­fore back home, but this time, they had to do it in front of a panel of ea­gle-eyed judges who were scru­ti­n­is­ing ev­ery sin­gle de­tail of their pour – from the clean­li­ness of the glass­ware, the amount of foam in the glass, and down to the smile of the con­tes­tant as he or she set down the glass of Heineken.

Now, you may think pour­ing a beer is easy, but be­ing able to pour a con­sis­tently GOOD beer over and over again takes a lot of prac­tise and skill, which is why Heineken came up with Star Serve in 2012.

Star Serve is Heineken’s global draught beer qual­ity pro­gramme, de­signed to op­ti­mise the drink­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of their con­sumers in each of the 50-plus mar­kets where Heineken draught beer is avail­able.

Ac­cord­ing to Heineken global ac­ti­va­tion di­rec­tor Hans Erik Tuijt, the com­pany al­ready has the qual­ity of the beer down pat, but too many things can hap­pen on the way from the brew­ery to the cus­tomer’s glass. “Be­fore you are al­lowed to brew Heineken, you have to send in sam­ple brews to Am­s­ter­dam, which are tasted by a taste panel and judged against many cri­te­ria. The qual­ity needs to be the same ev­ery­where, be­cause peo­ple travel and ex­pect the same taste of Heineken any­where they go,” he said, adding that the pur­pose of the Star Serve is to make sure that bar­tenders are trained to treat the beer prop­erly, and to make sure each glass of Heineken is served per­fectly.

“I want you to get a per­fectly served Heineken ev­ery time you or­der one, no mat­ter which coun­try you’re in.”

Heineken global draught mas­ter Frank Evers reck­ons that a cus­tomer would only or­der a sec­ond beer if the qual­ity of the first was good.

“The first beer I have is the one that tells me about the qual­ity of the beer. If the first one is good, then I would know the sec­ond one will prob­a­bly be just as good.”

Five steps to qual­ity

So how does the Star Serve rit­ual help en­sure that you get per­fect Heineken any­where you go?

Ex­plain­ing each step of the rit­ual, Evers stressed that there was a valid rea­son for ev­ery sin­gle step.

“First, rins­ing. I don’t care if you are the best bar-keeper in the world, but if you start with a dirty glass, you don’t stand a chance,” he said.

“Also, rins­ing the glass cools it down – a warm glass will not keep the beer cold.”

Next comes the pour. When pour­ing, the bar­tender is sup­posed to open the tap, then slip the glass un­der the noz­zle (with­out touch­ing it) at a 45° an­gle, then straighten the glass when it is al­most full, and set it aside. This is to en­sure that a nice foam of head forms on top of the beer.

Then it’s time for step three – the skim­ming of the head, which sup­pos­edly takes the bit­ter­ness of the hops away from the top of the foam, and seals the head to make sure it re­mains in­tact even as the glass is emp­tied.

To il­lus­trate the im­por­tance of skim­ming, Evers poured two beers, skim­ming only one of them. Side by side, the dif­fer­ence was clear – the bub­bles of the un­skimmed one were big­ger, and when you take a sip, the bit­ter­ness of the hops hits your nose and taste buds im­me­di­ately.

“The skimmed one is softer and eas­ier to drink, and the foam will stay on top of the beer much longer,” he said.

Step four, the bar­tender then

Foam party: A bar­tender skims the foam on top of a mug­ful of beer to cre­ate the best head.

Ac­cord­ing to Frank Evers, ev­ery pour­ing rit­ual is de­signed to make sure bar­tenders serve the beer in the best way pos­si­ble.



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