Heineken USA unveiled its on-premise strategy during a press conference at the Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show (NCB Show), held March 12-14 in Las Vegas. Attendees were able to experience firsthand Heineken’s “Passion 4 Beer” program, which highlights the core fundamentals of general beer knowledge in a fun and unique way. The educational program also is meant to raise the “beer IQ” of bar owners, management and staff.
Passion 4 Beer was born when Heineken resolved to change the global attitude that beer was "just beer." After training their own employees, Heineken reached out to publicans and their bartenders. During the demonstration at the NCB Show, the Passion 4 Beer program featured three prongs:
• Ingredients and Brewing: Heineken staff presented an in-depth look at ingredients and brewing methods, including differences in the long, cool fermentations used to brew lager vs. the short, hot fermentations required for ale.
• The Perfect Pour: Heineken’s Master Pourer Franck Evers, a long-time publican owner and trainer in the United Kingdom, presented the four-step ritual that guarantees a perfect pour of Heineken draught every time.
• Comparative Tasting: Heineken’s Quality and Sensory expert led comparative tastings of bottled beers that illustrate the differences among several popular brands.
One of the most exciting aspects of the demonstration was the “Perfect Pour.” “Anyone with a room-temperature IQ should be able to pour a beer,” Evers said.
After all, how hard is it to open a tap, fill a glass and slide it to a guest sitting across a bar? Heineken has invested a lot of time changing the attitude that pouring a beer is just about filling a glass — not just anyone can do it.
Evers displayed Heineken’s famous four-step ritual on stage. Selecting a glass and ensuring it was clean, he explained Heineken had learned that a room-temperature glass can lower the temperature of a beer by several degrees almost immediately. Part of the ritual of pouring a beer involves rinsing the glass with cold water if it is not already cool (read: not frozen — Evers emphatically rejects the idea of utilizing frozen glassware to serve beer) to combat that very problem. A bartender then should tilt and keep the glass at a 45-degree angle, held close to the tap. The tap should be opened quickly, allowing the beer to flow into the glass until it's about to overflow; the glass then is straightened and the tap quickly closed. The top is skimmed to remove oxygenated foam as it creates a bitter taste, and then the beer is presented to the customer. When using a Heineken glass, the beer should rest at the shoulders of the iconic red star with the shiny, white foam filling the remainder of the vessel.
The perfect pour, according to Evers, does not only involve physically performing the steps and filling a glass. Part of Evers’ bartender education involves motivation. It is imperative that a bartender has the drive to be energetic and engaging. Without understanding the importance of attention to detail and presentation, the ritual of the perfect pour falls apart. How many bartenders have ever accepted the blame for serving a disappointing beer? The blame is usually hoisted upon the tap or keg.
Upon its inception in 2010, Passion 4 Beer attracted approximately 600 bars interested in improving their businesses through the education and motivation of their bar staffs. Now, just a few short years later, more than 2,300 bars have enrolled in the program. This focus on the respect and dignity of the liquid so many love and enjoy can only benefit everyone, from bar owners and operators to the guests they are dedicated to serving.