Have you ever poured a beer into a glass and had the head of foam disappear too quickly? Or maybe the beer tasted a bit off? Maybe you saw some finger prints or residue from a previous drink. If you’ve encountered any of this either at home or at the bar, your glass wasn’t “beer-clean.”
A glass that isn’t beer-clean can produce flat, headless, and off-tasting beer. Fat- or grease-based residues such as milk, dish soap, lipstick, or fingerprints can leave a clear film on the glass. The film on the glass causes a rapid release of the carbonation in the beer, which causes it to go flat.
Off-tasting beer can also be caused by odors absorbed into the glass by milk, stale air, smoke, food from refrigerated environments, and drying towels.
How To Tell if a Glass is Beer-Clean
When a beer is poured, there should be a tight head of foam that’s about 3/4 to 1-inch from the top of the glass. If the foam dissipates quickly, the glass isn’t beer-clean. When the beer is being consumed, rings of foam will stick to the sides of the glass. This is called lacing. If they do not stick, the glass isn’t beer-clean.
How to Get Your Glassware Beer-Clean
The easiest way to get your glasses beer-clean is to use a dishwasher. Dishwashers are great because the detergents typically used are non-sudsing, non-fat cleaning compounds that don’t leave film on the glass. Dishwashers also use high heat to air dry the glasses.
Another way to clean your glasses would be to use an inexpensive manual glass brush along with a glass sanitizer. Rinse twice in cool, clean water and air dry in your dish rack. Do not dry your glasses with a dishtowel; the glass could absorb the odors from the towel and leave lint in the glass.
Another Quick Suggestion
Only use your beer glasses for beer. No milk. No soda. No juice. Better yet, use different glasses for different beers. You wouldn’t believe how much a proper glass will change the taste of your beer.
The glassware set above is from the glassware experts at Spiegelau and includes (from left to right) an IPA Glass, a Pilsner Glass, a Wheat Beer Glass, and a Lager glass. Use the IPA Glass solely for IPAs, and the Pilsner Glass for Stouts, Belgian-style Ales, Pilsner Stouts, and other Pilsners. The Wheat Beer Glass is good for German Wheats, Belgian Whites, Witbiers, and other Wheat Ales. And the Lager Glass works wonderfully for Pale Lagers, Ales, and English Strong Ales.
You may not be ready for all that glassware, or you’re perfectly happy with your old pal the pint glass. Whatever you choose to drink it from, just make sure it’s beer-clean!