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Tips for “beer clean” glassware at home

Tips for “beer clean” glassware at home

If you saw my recent piece about beer glassware, then you’ll remember that “Beer Clean” is a technical term for glassware that undergoes a proper washing with the right detergent at the right temperatures. It makes for a beer that not only looks great, but tastes great too.

So, perfect! Now you know exactly how a bar should clean your beer glass (and know if they didn’t). But some of you asked: since I don’t have the requisite three tub sink or a high heat dishwasher specifically used for beer glasses, how do I get the best beer clean glassware at my own home??

Great question! I’m ashamed to say that I’ve honestly never thought much about what I was doing to clean my beer glasses beyond air-drying. So, I took to Google. Unfortunately I found that there is not much advice out there for those of us who want perfect beer clean glassware at our home. Abita has some tips on their website, and certainly many of the same rules apply at home that do for a bar/restaurant. For example, air drying really is key, and should be done on a dishrack or somewhere that air will circulate. For quite some time now, we’ve washed all of our glasses by hand with regular old dish soap and a sponge, and let them air dry upside down. We mainly do this because we don’t want the logos to come off, but after doing some research I also learned that dishwasher detergent will ruin head/lacing on beer.

Don’t believe me? Below is a water glass we’ve had for at least five years that has gone through countless dishwashing rounds. This picture was taken immediately after being cleaned and dried in the dishwasher with regular old dishwasher detergent.

effects of years of dishwashing
What happens to glasses after years of dishwasher use

All that white residue will kill your beer.

Since our beer glasses never seemed really “beer clean” I started reading and experimenting with different techniques. I came up with my own ways to get near-perfect beer clean glassware at home without going to ridiculous extremes.

Here are my personal tips and tricks:

  1. Always hand wash your beer glasses.
  2. If possible, use a sudless detergent to clean them. A tiny bit of OxiClean will work wonders, and Realbeer.com even recommends using some baking soda if your glasses are in rough shape to start.
  3. It’s best to clean glasses immediately after use since they will be easier to clean. If you forget and end up with a glass full of dried beer residue, soak first in hot water to loosen it up.
  4. Use a dedicated scrub brush or sponge for all of your beer glasses. Do NOT use the same sponge you use for the rest of your food or you risk leaving trace amounts of oil and food that will hurt head retention, lacing and may leave a gross smell in your beer.
  5. Use filtered water if at all possible. It will help prevent hard water spots that will ruin head formation, retention, and lacing.
  6. Once scrubbed thoroughly, inside and out, rinse detergent off completely with very hot water.
  7. Dry glasses upside down on a rack where the glass can get plenty of air circulated around it.
  8. You can dry the outside of the glass with a CLEAN towel, but I don’t really think this is necessary. Never dry the inside, or tiny pieces of lint will likely stick. Unless you have a Microfiber cloth, I would just air dry.
  9. If you want to use the glass you just cleaned to pour a beer into, rinse it with cold water and shake out the excess water. You’ll notice many better beer bars rinse out their glassware before use, and there are a few reasons they do this: the glass is warm and needs to be cooled down, they want to make sure any sanitizer is completely rinsed from the glass, and head retention and lacing can actually be improved by rinsing first.

beautiful tan head

Now sit back and enjoy your beautiful, “beer clean” pint in the comfort of your own home.


22 thoughts on “Tips for “beer clean” glassware at home”

  • Good post! My dishwasher is notoriously bad at cleaning, well, anything. I’m always a little embarrassed to hand a guest a glass of our lovely homebrew in a glass with thousands of little bubbles clinging to the side. Perhaps I’ll start hand washing the beerware. Any tips on glass storage – right-side up, upside-down? Upside-down on a mat that allows ventilation?

    • Hmmmm good question. Probably upside down is best because that way dust won’t settle in the glass as much, but honestly we store them rightside up a in cabinet. If you use them frequently enough it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. That’s my opinion at least. It’s the hard water spots for me that drive me nuts. We really need to get a water filter I think… cheers!

  • Bars also rinse glasses because it creates a slick surface that helps moderate beer head. I didn’t believe this until I poured a saison into a dry and rinsed glass. The rinsed glass didn’t not require a wait for the head to subside prior to topping off

    • Absolutely, also true. I think I haven’t had much success with this at home since our water is so damn hard (as evidenced by that horrific looking glass) – thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks for your comment Derrick! It is most certainly a hobby, taken to various levels of extremes. I like to try and have fun with it, but do appreciate a technically perfect beer. Cheers!

      • Whether I’m a beer geek or not is irrelevant (although I do spend an inordinate amount of time finding, drinking, reading and talking about beers).

        I wager that if you were to walk into any respectable craft beer bar or brewery and asked them if they washed their glasses with filtered water and a dedicated brush that they would be hard pressed to stifle a smirk or a chuckle (even if they coincidentally did!).

        I suppose part of my resistance to this cleaning regime is the same part of me that rolls its eyes when someone snorts a beer and picks up a dozen different aromas (the super-tasters amongst us max out at 4 reliably). The over-intellectualization of craft beer threatens (in some small way) the popularity of craft beer.

        If we keep the entry requirements for craft beer uncomplicated we’ll have more people drinking craft beer and in turn more people making beer.

        • “snorts a beer”??

          “the super-tasters amongst us max out at 4 reliably”??

          “it’s beer people!”?!

          “WINE SNOBS”??

          WTF, you are a moron.

          the idiotic viewpoint you hold threatens craft beer every bit as much (if not more so) as your seeming mistrust of anyone who holds an intellectual discussion about it.

          THERE ARE NO ENTRY REQUIREMENTS, all you have to do is like beer, that’s pretty damn uncomplicated. however, it seems you are espousing doing away with anything that makes it more involved, and i just don’t understand why you’re worried about getting more people drinking “craft beer” without also encouraging its expansion and elucidation at the highest possible levels. it’s like you’re suggesting beer is a less noble and less complicated beverage than wine and does not therefore deserve the same inspection and -yes- intellectualisation?

        • I own a bar.

          All of our water is filtered not only for washing, but also because it affects the flavor of our soda and ice, both which affect a quality cocktail. As for a dedicated brush, I’ve never seen a bar that didn’t use a 3-brush glass washer. Rather than a chuckle, I imagine the response would be “of course.”

          • Lol, this guy doesn’t know what he was talking about and probably never worked a bar a day in his life. Of course is the proper response. He also misread the entire article as it was on beer-clean glasses AT HOME. I would never use my fatty ol’ dish sponge for my beer glasses, especially since I recently found out how tedious the process of beer brewing is, all the desinfecting…

            Not a single respectable barkeep to be found who would rinse stone or glassware that was used for food in the same tub where the glasses are rinsed… Also the detergent for foodware is a completely different thing.

            I don’t use filtered water because the ground water here ( North-Holland) is of the utmost quality, it’s from the dunes right next to where I happen to work and I’ve seen it get filtered in this pretty awe-inspiring installation. As a bar and lunchroom manager and Horeca advisor I would definitely recommend filtered water if the regular tap water is of any less quality than excellent.

        • I worked in a bar 20 years ago. No craft beer, just the basics. All beer glasses were washed in a special dishwasher with no detergent, but super hot to kill all germs. All glasses then had to be refrigerated until very cold before using them. I’m sure things have advanced since then. So as to your statement that no craft beer pub would go out of their way to ensure the glass has been washed correctly, I believe you are wrong.

        • If people that frown upon properly clearing glasses start making beer we’re all doomed to flat, tasteless and uncarbonated beer, since the actual brewing process takes A Lot Of Desinfecting. Did I mention, A Lot?
          It’ s to ensure the yeast stays alive during the two weeks in the barrel, and after that the yeast needs to consume added sugars in the bottle to carbonate the beer. The whole process is like a science lab, and the person who first invented it was probably pretty “intellectual”

    • I’m not sure if they do, maybe not on cleaning glassware, but if you haven’t noticed this is a BEER blog. I agree it’s not the end all be all of important things, which is why these are just tips and suggestions, not a bible to live by. I’d never turn down a glass of beer unless there was something horrifically wrong, but there is definitely an art to beer that people appreciate, myself included.

  • Thanks for the tip using OxiClean. How about using PBW as well since that is also a common cleaner used by homebrewers? As for the scrub brush, even a dedicated sponge can get nasty over time, how about just using a plastic scrubie brush on a handle? Hot water vs cold water rinse??

  • I am NOT a beer snob; but I am a BCG (beer clean glass) snob. When I go a brew pub – who is so proud of their labors – & then serve their product in a glass what kills the head in minutes … I will never go to that establishment again!

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