What is “Beer Clean”?
A “beer clean” glass is a glass that is clean enough to not affect the experience of drinking beer. Even a small residue can cause issues with head retention and aroma in a beer. A tiny amount of sanitizer, detergent, or oil can make a noticeable difference in how the beer tastes when poured into the glass.
The main problem with a glass that is not beer clean is the presence of residue inside the glass. Residual oils and sugars from milk or soda, for example, can lead to poor head retention, while leftover detergents or dust can create unwanted nucleation sites and have a similar effect.
This issue is common in bars. You can judge whether a bar takes its beer seriously by observing how they handle their glassware. A good beer bar will ensure clean beer glasses by following these steps:
Have Dedicated Glasses for Beer
They use specific glasses exclusively for beer. If a bar uses the same glass to make a white Russian or serve a soda before serving a beer, they are making a mistake. Even if the glass appears clean, oils and sugars from previous beverages can still remain.
They use a good glassware detergent
At home, you can use baking soda or salt if you have a lot available. In commercial settings, a good cleaner would use oxalic acid, which is abrasive but doesn’t harm the glass while being highly effective. It also cleans stainless steel well.
They rinse very thoroughly
To ensure complete removal of detergent, thorough rinsing is necessary. In a commercial setting, bartenders should frequently change their rinse water if it’s not continuously flowing.
They choose the right sanitizer
In many states and cities, commercial establishments are required to sanitize their dishes either with heat or a chemical sanitizer. If given the choice, a great beer bar will always opt for heat. If not possible or practical, a good bar will experiment with different sanitizers to find one that leaves no residue and doesn’t affect the beer’s aroma or flavor.
They are careful with sanitizers
Most regulations regarding sanitizers mandate no-rinse sanitizing, resulting in a small amount of sanitizer remaining on the glassware. Additionally, bars should always use the correct amount of sanitizer when sanitizing glassware. Too little won’t sanitize sufficiently, while excessive amounts are not more effective but can leave undesirable residue.
They rinse before pouring
If possible, a good beer bar should always rinse the glass with clean cold water and drain it just before pouring beer. This step helps eliminate any residual detergent and removes any dust that may have settled in the glass since its last wash. Some jurisdictions prohibit rinsing after sanitizing, so it depends on the specific health code applicable to a commercial establishment. However, there is no reason why you cannot do this at home.
Simple Steps to Cleaner Beer Glasses
To ensure your glassware is always “beer clean,” follow these three simple steps:
1. Reserve your beer glasses exclusively for beer and avoid serving other beverages in them.
2. Rinse and clean your beer glasses immediately after use to prevent beer residue from drying and hardening.
3. Rinse your glass with cold clean water just before using it to remove any dust that may have settled.
That’s it. It’s a straightforward way to show proper respect for your beer. Respecting your beer ensures that you have the best experience every time, especially when enjoying your own homebrew.