It might seem hard to believe, but beer isn’t like any other beverage when it comes to the importance of glassware. Beer’s carbonation is what is known as hydrophobic—it repels from water. Carbonation will stop at nothing to get away from water, hence the bubbles rising to the top of your beer. Carbonation’s hydrophobic quality makes it extremely important to have perfectly beer clean glassware. A glass that isn’t “beer clean” messes with head retention, banishes aroma, and compromises mouthfeel. The look isn’t right either — almost every beer deserves a healthy foam capper to keep oxygen out and aroma in.”
What is Beer Clean?
A beer clean glass is free of any impurities: leftover sanitizer, beer, dirt, food, detergent, grease, chap stic, lipstick, lip balm, boogers, or anything else that would provide the escaping CO2 a spot to cling to.
These areas of grime act as nucleation sites, allowing bubbles to cling to and collect around the point. Any time you serve a beer in a glass that is not free of impurities you (or your customers) will quickly see the hidden residue that remains on a seemingly clean glass.
The Brewers Association’s Draught Beer Quality Manual (DBQM) describes a beer clean glass is one that, “forms a proper foam head, allows lacing during consumption and never shows patches of bubbles stuck to the side of the glass in the liquid beer.”
Bubbles clinging to the inside of a beer glass is the most obvious sign that a glass is not beer clean. I don’t care what is causing those nucleation sites, but I don’t want to be drinking it, and neither do you.
How to Achieve Beer Clean
A beer served in a beer clean glass will look inviting with a persistent foam head and consistent lacing will appear as you drink it. Sixpoint offered suggestions for getting beer clean glassware both in a commercial setting and at home in their blog post “Beer Clean Glassware“
The DBQM also offers helpful tips including:
- Wash beer glassware separate from other dishes.
- Air dry glassware to avoid adding lint to the glasses.
- Pre-rinse glasses before serving to remove dust or other particulates.
- Avoid frosted glassware: each ice crystal acts as a nucleation point creating excess foaming.
A lot goes into that glass of beer, if you’re the last part in the chain to ensure a great beer experience, be sure it’s not spoiled by serving the beer in a dirty glass.