Sometimes the root cause of beer issues is not a technical issue with your draft system at all…
It is often a straightforward fix that you can solve in just minutes by making sure your glassware is beer clean. If your glassware is not beer clean, it can alter the appearance and taste of your beer, reduce the amount of foam/head, impact the carbonation, and ultimately decrease your profits.
The good news is, you can quickly test your glassware to determine if it is the culprit of any issues you’re experiencing, and there are simple steps to take to ensure your glassware is always beer clean and profitable.
Because when it comes to the perfect pour that does your beer justice, we’re not just shooting for clean…we want beer clean!
Here’s how to know if your glassware is beer clean and why it’s so important:
What Does “Beer Clean” Mean?
Let’s first define what beer clean even means. Beer clean is an industry term for a glass free of any impurities that would give CO2 a place to cling to, ensuring the beer’s best look and taste.
The Brewer’s Association Draught Beer Quality Manual (DBQM) defines a beer clean glass as 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.”
How Does a Dirty Glass Affect Your Beer (and your profits)?
So much goes into making quality beer, from harvesting to malting, brewing, and finally pouring. There are a lot of parties and systems involved throughout this process, and cutting corners at the final step can significantly affect the quality and taste of the beer. And after all of that hard work, who wants that?
If a glass is not beer clean, it can compromise the taste of your beer, reduce the amount of foam/head, impact the carbonation, the look of your beer, and ultimately all of these issues affect your profits. Confirming that your glassware is as clean as possible is the last and often easiest step to ensuring that the beer you serve (and consume) is the BEST it can be.
What Are Some Signs of Non-Beer Clean Glassware?
You can start to look for signs by visually checking your glass for any fingerprints, lipstick, or dirt. If you don’t see any noticeable residue, check for any film on the glass. The film can come from grease-based residues and certain types of soap. Also, check for any odor that may have been absorbed from soap, sanitizer, smoke, drying towels, etc. And this can cause your beer to taste different.
Also, you can find out if your glass is beer clean by looking for carbonation bubbles on the inside of the glass. On a beer-clean glass, there will be no irregularities or impurities for bubbles to form on. If you see bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass, it’s a sign that the glass has some residual impurities from soap, food, or something else.
How To Test For Beer Clean Glassware
The good news is there are a few quick tests you can do to know if your glassware is beer clean and correct as needed. After visually checking the glass for any residue or oils, test the glass with these three standard techniques: the sheeting, the salt, and the lacing test.
The Sheeting Test
For the sheeting test, start with an empty glass and dip the whole glass in water. If the glass is beer clean, water will evenly coat the glass (like a sheet) when removed from the water. If there is an invisible film, the water will break up into droplets on the inside surface.
The Salt Test
For the salt test, start with an empty glass and wet the inside of the glass. Then, sprinkle salt all over the inside. If the glass is beer clean, salt will adhere evenly to the surface of the glass. If there are is any grease, oil, or residue, then the distribution of salt will be uneven.
The Lacing Test
For the lacing test, start by filling a glass with beer. Immediately take note of the head size after pouring, and then as the beer is consumed, notice the ring patterns that form. If the glass is beer clean, the foam should adhere to the inside of the glass in a uniform pattern – parallel rings that form a lace pattern. There should be a lacing effect after every sip, the head should remain intact, and there should be no bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.
If not properly cleaned, the foam will adhere in a random pattern or may not adhere at all.
What Are Some Best Practices for Getting Beer Clean Glassware?
The best way to start to keep your glassware beer clean, without any special processes, is to make sure it is only being used for beer (no soda, juice, etc.).
Next is the actual glassware cleaning process. According to the Draught Beer Quality Manual, there are two effective ways to clean your glassware for guaranteed beer clean results: manually washing in a three-tub sink or using a dedicated automatic glasswasher.
When using a glass washing machine, it’s critical that you dedicate this machine to bar and beer glassware only. Wash glasses at a hot temperature (between 130º and 140º) and use the correct detergent, sanitizing, and rinsing agents. Check concentrations daily and regularly service the machine.
It is essential to make sure the sinks and work area are clean first when washing by hand. Then, follow the steps below.
Steps To Washing Glassware By Hand:
- Hand wash glassware in hot water – scrub the entire glass (interior, exterior surfaces, and the bottom of glass) with a cleaning brush to remove film and residue. Make sure not to empty any water from the glass into the cleaning water, so cleaning solutions are not diluted.
- Have a dedicated brush or sponge just for your beer glasses. Don’t use one that is used for other dishes/pots etc. Using motorized cleaning brushes will allow for more thorough washing.
- Wash with sudless soap/non-oil-based detergent – ordinary dishwashing soap and detergent contains oils and creates suds that can cling to the glass, killing head retention. Instead, use bicarb soda sprinkled inside the glass or on a sponge/brush. Give it a light scrub, and then rinse.
- Sanitize the glassware – with hot water and an appropriate beer clean sanitizer. A beer-clean glass is also free of foam-killing residues and lingering aromatics such as sanitizer.
- Drip dry your glassware upside down on a tray, allowing ventilation. Air drying is best as drying towels can leave behind odors or lint.
- Rinse your glass with cold water just before dispensing – this removes any possible dust and cools the glass down a few degrees to help with beer temperature. We recommend glass rinsers.
BONUS STEP: Buy new glassware as needed – glass quality can degrade, so new glasses can be just what your next beer needs!
Cheers to you for taking steps to make sure your glassware is beer clean!
Here at Draft Beer Intelligence, we always want to help you deliver the perfect pour day after day. And to make sure that your draft beer systems produce GREAT tasting beer and MAXIMIZE profits!
Contact us here anytime if you need draft system design, installation, ongoing maintenance, or service nationwide. Together, let’s keep “DOING BEER JUSTICE!”