Having observed — and participated in — our national embrace (read: drinking) of beer made by craft breweries, it is amazing to see the difference 30 years can make. Lots of good things can be said about our local culture, and Asheville is an exceptional place when it comes to beer.
There is, however, one area where I would like to offer a humble opinion on how to get even better when it comes, not to the making of beer, but the drinking of it. More specifically, the pouring of it. Every time I order a draft beer, it hurts my German side to observe how utterly amateurishly and wastefully nine out of ten folks pour beer into a glass.
The problem is that the folks who are charged with the serious job of doing it right all too often do it wrong. We live in a culture bereft of time, and so it comes as no surprise that this is reflected in the way we pour beer and how fast we want it. A beer, correctly poured, takes more time than our servers are giving it.
For starters, most folks simply leave the tap running, tilt the glass and pour the “white stuff,” the “foam,” the “head,” whatever they call it, down the drain. I have yet to hear it being called what it really is: beer. Pour beer into a glass, let it sit halfway up and observe it. The foam (the stuff they think is waste) turns into beer.
What is particularly annoying is the answer I get when I ask servers to go slowly or not to flush the head: “Well, do you want beer or foam?!” Growing up in Germany, I learned that different beers require different pour times. A Pilsner, for example, takes, on average, seven minutes. A Koelsch, served in small glasses, goes quicker.
One can learn a lot about a culture by examining how it consumes a precious cultural item: beer. Asheville is proud to be associated with beer, and lots of folks enjoy it. Perhaps we could enjoy it even more if we wait just a bit longer for it, knowing that love went not only into the making of it, but also the serving of it.
— Volker Frank
Editor’s note: Frank is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UNC Asheville.