Dan Lamonaca, owner of Beer Karma, a beer shop and tasting counter in Brooklyn, has despised the boss pour since 2016. “I noticed a trend of people on Instagram pouring their beers to the very top of the glass with little-to-no foam, which was completely against what I knew about pouring beer,” Lamonaca tells VinePair.
At the time, Lamonaca was about to open Beer Karma and wanted to be conscientious about trends. He contacted Instagrammers who routinely posted photos of beers in this “#bosspour” style to ask why they were doing it. Was there something he didn’t know — a carbonation retention trick, perhaps?
“Much to my dismay, every response I got back was that they only did it because it looked good for the pictures,” Lamonaca says. “I still remain baffled.”
Lamonaca isn’t the only beer industry member who’s baffled. Brewers and beer writers, including this author, have questioned the technique. By pouring a beer to the absolute rim of a glass, you leave no room for air or foam. A foamy head is actually the best way to enjoy beers’ aromas and flavors. The boss pour is essentially the opposite of a proper pour, in which your beer is topped with a perfect pillow of foam, allowing its delicious aromas to dissipate.
It’s also borderline-impossible to drink.
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“As a beer professional, I have a responsibility to serve a brewery’s beer properly,” Lamonaca says.“Educating consumers on how they should be served beer is important. If I’m not doing that, then I’m doing a disservice to both parties and hurting my business’ reputation.”
Popularized by Instagram accounts like @thebeerbro, @renobeerman, @clsbeerguy, and @bosspours, boss pours have gone from occasional blips on a beer lover’s Instagram feed, to widespread phenomenon. Beers and their vessels becoming more extreme in tandem. At the time of this writing, more than 7,000 Instagrams have been tagged #bosspour.
How can you tell if you’re looking at a boss pour? The glass will be filled right up to the rim, of course. The beer is hazy, and in an absurdly shaped glass. The can is in the shot and has a super-cool brewery label. These opaque pours range from egg-yolk yellow NEIPAs to bright purple fruited sour beers. Once upon a time, they tended to be in tulip glasses. Then, Teku glasses were the thing. Recently, boss pourers tend to favor oddly shaped vessels like the bulbous Pretentious Glass — along with flower vases and fishbowls.
This is straight off of my wife’s vase shelf. Good, right? pic.twitter.com/SWnRJUwFUU
— Jonathan Shikes (@ColoBeerMan) March 22, 2019
While some brewers openly oppose the practice, saying the technique is another sign of craft beer’s bro-pocalypse, others embrace it. In February 2019, Vennture Brewing of Milwaukee posted a double-boss-pour picture of two beers, 60th St. RAW NEIPA and Doughnut Don Stout, on its Instagram account. In March, Brooklyn’s Kings County Brewers Collective announced its Iceberg Zombie, a tart cherry blackberry sour, with what could be considered a boss pour. And San Diego’s Abnormal Beer Co. even released a beer called Boss Pour (unsurprisingly, it’s an IPA).
Boss pours have eye-catching appeal but very little to do with beer itself. Like art, the boss pour has no function or purpose other than to please those who love it, and annoy those who don’t.