Have you ever been to a bar or a taproom and wondered why they sprayed the inside of the glasses with water before they poured your beer? The quick answer is to ensure that they have a “Beer Clean” glass to ensure the perfect pour is produced to provide the best experience for the end customer. This mostly applies to people in the beer industry, but it’s something you can achieve at home as well!
What is Beer Clean and Why Does it Matter?
Beer Clean is the official term that means the bartender has washed the glasses in such a manner that it actually helps nurture a good pour and, in turn, will make your beer taste better. A beer poured in the right way will have between 1 and 2 fingers worth of head on top which traps in the aroma of the beer. Considering that 75% of what we taste comes from the aroma of what you’re eating or drinking, it is crucial to trap as many volatiles and aromatics of a beer as you can. The best way to do that is to have a thick, frothy foam covering the beer. Soap will kill the head of a beer, so you can’t just clean a glass with regular detergent. If you do it will be “clean” but not “beer clean”.
A beer clean glass will also ensure that the beer itself will be presented in a way that shows off the carbonation and color characteristics of a brew. There’s a saying that you “eat with your eyes first” which rings true for beers as well. Don’t believe me? Look at the amount of beer pictures there are on Instagram! Everyone loves a picture-perfect pint, and while it may not make the beer taste better, it absolutely enhances the drinker’s experience.
How do I Make My Glasses Beer Clean?
Creating a Beer Clean glass is a 6-step process. It helps to have a 3 sink system like all bars are required to have, but you can do this at home with a little extra effort.
We’re going to assume that the glass you have is from a beer or beverage that you’re already drinking Empty it. Dump the contents down the drain, that way you’re not getting your cleaning sink dirty. There’s no point of cleaning a glass with dirty water!
DON’T USE SOAP! As we mentioned, regular dish soap will kill the head of a beer, so you’ll need to find low-fat, low-sudsing soap like the product found HERE. Bars usually have a sink with brushes to scrub out the inside of the glass, but all you need at home is a brush or scrubber of some sort to wash out the inside of your glass. Just make sure it’s new so it doesn’t have residual soap left over from old washes.
If you have a sink for rinsing, just fill it with clean water and rinse the glass thoroughly using the “heel-in, heel-out” method. That means you grab the glass by the heel, dip it heel-first into the sink until it’s submerged, and then pull it out heel-first pouring the rinse water back into the sink. If you don’t have a sink for rinsing, just run water around and into the glass. I usually fill and dump out glasses 5 times to ensure that they are rinsed.
Fill a sink, or large bowl if you don’t have a sink, with water and an appropriate sanitizing solution like the product found HERE. Doing the same “heel-in, heel-out” method, rinse the glass with sanitizing solution.
Drying might be the second most important step of this process. Allow the glasses to air dry on a drying rack. A drying rack will allow air to fully circulate the glassware so that it dries quickly and evenly. You could stop the process here, your glass is officially “beer clean” but there’s one more step you should take before pouring the first beer.
6. Rinse Before Pouring
This is where those built-in glass sprayers come in handy. Rinse the inside of the glass with cool, clean water to wash out any residue that might have clung to the glass during drying. Empty the rinsed glass and pour your beer!
How do I Test if My Glass is Beer Clean?
There are two tests that the beer industry uses. The first is a water test. The water test is simply filling the glass with water and watching the sheeting of the glass as your pour the water out. If it sheets out evenly, then your glass is clean. If it is uneven, you need to reclean your beer glass.
The second is the salt test. The salt test calls for you to rinse out your glass, empty it, and then shake salt onto the sides of the glass. If there is an oily spot, or dirty spot on the glass, the salt will not stick. A beer clean glass will have an even salt distribution.
The most fun way to check if a glass is “beer clean” is to pour a beer and drink! As you drink from a beer clean glass, you should see lacing cling to the glass with every sip. This is the ultimate test of a properly cleaned glass!