Wednesday 24 November 2010

A beer decanter, one for Santa?

Last weekend, while carefully pouring a bottle of beer between five glasses, trying not to disturb the heavy sediment in the bottle, my mate suggested the use of a decanter for the beer. A beer decanter. Why had I never thought of that before? How many times have I opened a big bottle only to have the last glass of it pour out murky and filled with yeasty chunks. You can do it with port, whisky and wine, so what about beer?

In Belgium, they sometimes serve 750ml beers in baskets with the bottle leaning at a 30-degree angle so you can pour without much disturbance of the bits in the bottom, and that works well, but in other places, or at home, the bottle is poured and then returned to upright, sloshing around the stuff left in there. With more breweries using larger bottles (ones which you can’t pour into just one glass), it makes sense to pour them from their container in one go into a decanter and then fill up glasses from there, right?

Beer isn’t the same as whisky or wine in that it’s carbonated, but unless it takes you hours or days to drink your beer then this probably isn’t anything to worry about. It would work best with those bottle conditioned 750ml beers which you either want to share between a few friends or drink yourself over an evening.

Decanting beer – does anyone do this already? Does everyone do this and I’m just way behind? Or is it a stupid idea because those bits never hurt anyone? Either way, I’ve got one on my Christmas list this year (and if I don't put beer in it then I can always put wine in there!).


  1. * Penlon ales actually recommend that they are decanted first and left for 5 mins

    * All the bottled ales at the SIBA North judging were served in jugs

    * @Christopher_R doesn't like cloudy beer

    All these three points suggest that decanting is not pure madness.

    It's not something that I do but makes sense when sharing out large quantities of ale, it's something that I'm considering doing at my "The Ormskirk Baron presents Marble Beers" tasting night at Source Deli...

  2. I decant all bottles over 500ml half and half into a jug and glass. The jug goes in the fridge until I'm ready to drink it.

  3. How would this effect head retention? I was thinking that it might kill it, but what do I know?

  4. Jonas Fredriksson24 November 2010 at 19:13

    I decant beers. Sometimes to get rid of the yeast chunks and in other cases, like for Carolus Cuvée, because the beer benefit from it.

  5. That's interesting. Hadn't thought of doing that. I've got a 1l glass jug I bought for red wine a couple of years ago (which I haven't used for a couple of years). That should do the job.

  6. I've got a beer pitcher from The Sunset Grill & Tap in Boston,MA (amazing place with a great beer menu), probably holds a good 2 litres, think that would suit the baron...

  7. Baron - I think some beers actually open up when decanted. The second point about SIBA is moot as you aren't meant to know what it is and they have to carry it from the cask to the judging table somehow! The big Marbles are a perfect example of beers to be decanted. A 2 litre pitcher however... that's big!

    Jay - I don't know how it would affect it. Perhaps you can just give it a good swirl when you need it again... Not sure.

    Glad I'm not the only one thinking about this!

  8. This is common (almost universal) practice amongst home brewers. Unless you're using kegs it's all bottle conditioned, generally in 750ml bottles - and the easiest way to avoid lots of sediment is to decant to a jug in one go, and then pour glasses from there. Problem solved!

    As for head: no problem. Best just to pour carefully into the jug and then as vigorously as you like after that (too enthusiastic on the initial pour means loss of more co2).

  9. I've been thinking about this a fair bit recently.
    I'd never considered it before but Sam from Roosters sent me a 750ml sample bottle and he suggested I decant it.
    We were bought a really nice crystal decanter as a wedding present and I've used that a few times. Its a great idea. Sometimes pouring from a big bottle, the first glass is great but the rest of it suffers a bit regardless if you leave it to sit for a while.

    I'll be decanting my 750ml bottle of Mikkeller It's Alive for one.

  10. I decant bottle conditioned beers from bottles bigger than a pint. I decant into a jug. I don't find I have a big problem with head formation when I pour into a glass from the jug.