Letter writer: Pour or poor beer?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Letter writer: Pour or poor beer?

  1. boatrocker

    The reason the pours are not proper, as in how a real beer connoisseur would appreciate- I’m a beer diletante but recognize how it could be better.

    Local micro brewed beer makes money. Name it after something clever, like a pun. Tee hee, cute and tweetable.
    Get in, bring your dog, bring your toddler, let them run around for the bar baby sitting- drink a few, get out.

    Hear a safe singer songwriter or Grateful Dead covers covered with mandolins and drums.
    Just like a McDonalds. Volume makes bank.

    Why would a (ahem), bartender pour a proper beer for anyone if he/she can make bank on sheer volume? 7 min for a pour denotes individual attention. Not in this town.
    Welcome to Asheville’s noveau economy.

    Quality does not exist in a tourist town- I hate to break this to you.
    We learned this around 2005 with the hipster counter-revolution.

    Numbers. Bottom line, ka ching, I got mine, etc.

    For anyone that posts waah comments after this one, methinks they doth protest too much.

  2. B Wright

    Greed for $ doesn’t justify crapping on a product…or wasting it. I don’t patronize places that don’t know how to serve beer. Why? Because I really do love and respect beer, and the production of it.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.