Going the last mile: Better draft beer presentation

Technical Session 08: Sensory Session
Michael J Lewis
, UC Davis Extension, Davis, CA, USA

ABSTRACT: Wine is always served in a stemmed glass with a tulip-shaped head. I have never seen milk, iced tea, cola, or (God forbid!) water served in a wine glass. Why then, in pubs all across this country, do I see beers served in the all-purpose, any beverage you want, straight-side pint glass? This glass is surpassingly ugly and does not support the product in any way, but instead demeans it. In this glass, beers that brewers have struggled to make superbly well are sold to consumers as a common commodity, as something ordinary, plain, not deserving of special presentation. “Commoditization” is the opposite of “premiumization,” and premium is the message craft brewers (or any brewer for that matter) should be sending to consumers. During recent travels, I realized the United States is miles behind the rest of the world in premium presentation of draft beers. Although we have perhaps the world’s most innovative and creative brewing industry and excellent products, we fatally miss out on the last essential step—splendid presentation. We do not go the last mile. This paper is a plea to change that approach.

Professor Emeritus Michael Lewis taught the program in brewing science at the University of California at Davis for more than 30 years before retiring in 1995, and many former students now hold distinguished positions in the American brewing industry, large and small. Michael has been recognized by the university with the Distinguished Teaching Award and by the industry with the MBAA Award of Merit and Life Membership. Michael remains active in the brewing industry; he is the academic director of brewing programs in the University of California Extension, where the Master Brewers Program, which prepares students for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling examinations, is the flagship educational offering.