Beer Poking

April 2, 2024

Beer Poking.
As bizarre as the process may sound, you can do a quick Google search and find a great deal of information, history & various thoughts in general, on the “Beer Poking” process. News & Record explains that “beer poking” basically involves heating a metal poker in a fire until it’s glowing red and then plunging the tip into a glass of beer for a few seconds. The poker flash heats and instantly caramelizes the residual malt sugars abundant in certain types of beer. The result is variously described as adding smoky, roasted, smooth, soft, creamy or toasted marshmallow notes to the flavor profile of your brew. The hot poker also creates a foam cap on the top of a glass of beer, but it isn’t kept in the glass long enough to make the beer warm.

Drinking a poked beer is a little like drinking a hot chocolate with whipped cream on top, but in reverse. Instead of tasting warm milk coming through cool whipped cream, you get cool beer coming through a warm, sweet foam. Food & Wine magazine called it “The Beer Equivalent of S’mores.”

Beer historians say the practice has been around for more than 400 years. In the winter, when beer might be too cold to comfortably drink, colonial Americans were said to use hot pokers to warm their ale a bit.  Brewer World has a more extensive history of beer poking if you want to increase your beer knowledge with the deets. You can also learn some history on with similar history notes,  but adding that the the practice was known as “Bierstacheln” in its native German.

The practice, known as “Bierstacheln” in its native German, actually originated more than 400 years ago as a way to heat up beer for better enjoyment in the bitter cold months of the winter. Sipping on a warm beer may sound disgusting, especially to American drinkers, but the truth is that serving beer chilled is a more recent innovation due to refrigeration technology. That means that beer poking is far from a modern gimmick; it’s a more traditional way to experience drinking a beer.

Of course, the big unanswered question is what beers styles are recommended for beer poking? Brewer World says “hot beer poker” works best with the beer styles that are malt forward. Malty rich styles such as Dopplebock, Belgian Dark Strong Ale etc., would serve to be an ideal choice. Food Republic says that the process works best in darker, sweeter beers, namely bocks, in which the sugary malts create the fluffiest, toastiest pillows of foam that can hold up to a bit of decarbonization.

It is recommedned to not dip the stick for more than 4-5 seconds as it will drive off the remaining carbon dioxide and make the beer flat and foamy. Stir slowly and smoothly in a circular motion and avoid aggressive strokes. Other sites agree and say to remember that you don’t want to completely flatten your beer or heat it until it’s piping hot.

Craft breweries in America haven’t yet caught on to Bierstacheln en masse, but a few have embraced the serving style. Strange Land Brewing in Georgetown, Texas, outside of Austin, has attempted to start an annual beer-poking festival in the fall, experimenting with other, more autumnal styles like an imperial bourbon pumpkin porter.

Drinking a foamy and warm beer may sound unusual but it’s a delightful experience which has been there for ages. Hot poker beer definitely serves up as a dessert after a hearty meal and Even though it’s a winter tradition, summer campfire evenings provide the perfect opportunity to try out the ages-old tradition on your own.

So if poker beer interests you, Google away & go check it out!

The Bock beer season is here, so if poker beer interests you, go find a nice Shiner Bock & poke away!


21+ message