Frozen beer, foam beer and even in fancy-pants-glasses beer — brews around the world come served in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Here are eight of the best.
1. Czech Republic...with just the foam
We kid you not. Czech lager Pilsner Urquell has three pours: Hladinka (smooth), Na Dvakrat (crisp) and Milko (milk/sweet). The latter consists of pretty much an entire glass of foam, which brings out the creamy, sweeter notes of the lager. It's delicious with puddings, particularly a silky lemon meringue pie with a flaky pastry base, suggests brand owner Miller Brands.
2. America... in a cocktail
Heathwick, the UK importer of American craft brew Neapolitan Milk Stout (brewed by Michigan's Saugatuck Brewing Company), recommends shaking the "mind-bending beer" (it genuinely tastes like the ice-cream of your childhood) over ice with vodka, Kahlua, Frangelico and
vanilla syrup to create the Neapolitan Martini cocktail. Garnish with a mini meringue and a drizzle of chocolate caramel syrup for a most un¬usual beer experience.
3. Japan... frozen
With a Mr Whippy-style frozen foam head, Kirin Ichiban's Frozen Draught beer stays perfectly cold for up to half an hour, it is said.
The frozen beer was unleashed on an unsuspecting Japanese public back in 2012 and was brought over to the UK in the summer of 2014 by Charles Wells, which brews the lager in the UK.
To promote the launch the brewery created a frozen beer garden on London's South Bank, complete with tables, chairs and benches all carved out of ice.
4. China... with a taste of, erm, Manchester
Chinese lager Tsingtao is most often drunk straight up from the bottle or a glass, but importer Halewood International has been experimenting with new serves that highlight its Eastern heritage.
The "Green Dragon" was created in Manchester and is a mix of gin, lychee liquor, green tea syrup, lime and apple juice, topped with the beer.
5. America... in its own bespoke glass
Glassware specialist Spiegelau joined forces with Ken Grossman, founder of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (distributed in the UK by the Fuller's-owned Westside Drinks), and the chaps at Dogfish Head (makers of the famous 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPAs), to create the perfect IPA glass.
It took the better part of the year to arrive at the design, which has an inverted mouth to concentrate the hop aromas, laser nucleation on the foot and wave pattern in the base to help keep the beer head intact from start to finish, and thin, round walls to maintain temperature.
6. Japan... from a sharing bottle
Sharing a bottle — or eight — of booze, among family, friends or colleagues is the norm in Japan, be it whisky, wine or beer. Convention dictates that you do not refill your own glass and that you must not allow anyone else's to run dry, a sneaky but effective way of ensuring everyone gets into the party spirit. The tradition has made larger sharing bottles of beer popular. Shepherd Neame, which brews Japanese beer Asahi in the UK, is hoping to bring a bit of that Japanese culture to pubs and bars here, with a larger 660ml bottle. Diners at noodle chain Wagamama took to the format so well that Sheps is now making it available across the board.
7. Holland... with a 'sonic signature'
Dutch beer Grolsch has made much of its "sonic signature" — the popping sound made when a drinker opens that familiar swingtop bottle. It seems they call it, "the plop" *snigger*
"That distinctive sound gives consumers a sensory drinking experience and helps differentiate the serve," says Ali Pickering, brand director portfolio at Molson Coors."Despite being expensive to produce, Grolsch has maintained the design of the swingtop bottle since it was first introduced in 1897."
8. Belgium...in nine steps
Even the best pint-pullers in the UK think in terms of only two or three steps (angle the glass, pour, present) but those beer-loving Belgians add an extra six levels of complexity.
The process has been adopted across the globe by AB InBev for its Stella Artois brand in recent years as "The Ritual". It includes such steps as The Purification
(swilling the glass in cold water); The Sacrifice (wasting the first few drops from the tap in order to ensure the beer is tip-top quality) and Skimming (trimming the foam head at a 45-degree angle to remove the loose, large bubbles).
They've even made a worldwide competition out of it, the Stella Artois Draught Masters, this year won by Jan Vanden Plas — a Belgian. Figures.