Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 6
'Beer clean' glasses

Oct. 12, 2000

Yes, "Beer Clean" is an actual term in the bar and restaurant industry vocabulary. Nothing ruins the presentation of a beer -- from the head it throws off to the "Belgian lace" that clings to the side of the glass as the beer is consumed -- more than glassware that is not scrupulously clean.

The best way to get an idea of the effects of residue is to drink a glass of milk from a glass you don't intend to use to serve beer. Wash it out a few minutes with hot water (no soap). Now pour a beer. Is that the head you are used to seeing? Does foam continue to cling to the sides of the glass? Probably not like you are used to.


Now wash the glass with soap (well, drink the beer first). Pour another beer. Same problem? Soap film can be just as nasty a villain as other residue. Now wash the glass with baking soda. Pour another beer. (You're starting to like this exercise, right? You don't have to pour a full beer each time.) This one probably looks better.

Not only will residue you're not seeing affect how you beer looks in the glass, but it may also change the taste of that beer. If you find the word "soapy" popping up often in your tasting notes consider giving all your glassware a good scrubbing.

Bars have equipment that costs from hundreds to thousands of dollars just to wash beer glasses. That's a lot of money we all could be spending on beer, so first we suggest having glasses dedicated only to beer -- using a glass for anything else may leave residues that are extremely hard to get rid of. Wash them carefully after each use with very hot water, use detergent rather than soap if more than water is needed, and then consider cleaning them with baking soda.

Let the glasses air dry in a dish rack. If water droplets cling to the glass or if spots show while drying, then the glass is not clean. Wash them again. It's worth the trouble.

Tasting notes

Brewed in Tennessee
Tasted in judging at the Great American Beer Festival last week

Michael Jackson writes:

A wonderfully elegant, complex, brew. Cedary and citrusy in aroma and palate. Beautifully combined flavors. Oily, dry, gin-like. Dull gold color. I later learned that juniper boughs were used in lautering, as in some Nordic farmhouse beers. The brew was partially heated with hot stones. Boscos, which has brewpubs in Germantown, Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee, pioneered the latter technique in the United States with its Flaming Stone Beer. This very old method had earlier been revived by Rauchenfels, of Bavaria, Germany. The combination of the special ingredients and the unusual technique made this new beer from Boscos the most experimental entrant, but it was also the one I most enjoyed and admired as a beer in its own right.

Read more tasting notes from the GABF at:

Brewed by Unibroue in Quebec

Stephen Beaumont writes:

The Trois Pistoles I sampled blind for the Canadian Beer Guide had a complex, intriguing aroma, with an obvious spiciness blending and contrasting with roasty, leathery, coffee notes. In the big, rich body, notes of buckwheat honey mixed with spice, fruit and mocha lead to a lingering, warming finish.