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How to Clean Beer Glasses

In a properly cleaned glass, beer should produce a 1/2" to 1" tall head. This means you would only need to fill a 16 oz. glass with 14 oz. of beer, translating to more glasses per barrel and more profit for you! To achieve the best beer service possible, make sure you have an effective bar glass cleaner and warewashing process.

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The Importance of Cleaning Your Beer Glasses

Pouring a perfect beer doesn't start with your draft. It starts with a clean glass. If the glass is dirty, it can make your beer go flat quickly and lose its distinct aroma. Plus, it inhibits you from having a 1/2" to 1" thick head on top, ultimately wasting product.

To achieve the perfect pour, your glass needs to be "beer clean." This industry term means that it's clean from impurities that give C02 a place to cling to. Once the spots are removed, the beer can pour better for its best look and taste. 

A standard half barrel keg with 15.5 gallons of beer should yield approximately:

  • (124) 16 oz. glasses
  • (142) 14 oz. glasses

However, with a proper cleaner and washing system, you'd only need to pour 14 oz. into a 16 oz. glass because of how the product head is forming. This could give you up to 18 more glasses per keg. If you're not seeing results like this in your bar, it may be time to take a look at your cleaning process.

How Can You Tell if a Beer Glass is Clean?

Some culprits that cause a dirty glass include fat or grease-based residue from food, lipstick, and dish soap residue. Some of these are less visible on a glass, but they speed up the release of carbonation making beer go flat quickly.

To check how well you're cleaning your beer glasses, try doing one of these three tests on your glassware:

Sheeting Test

  1. Dip the glass in water
  2. Check to see how it coats
  3. If it coats the glass evenly, it's clean
  4. If it breaks into droplets, it's dirty

Salt Test

  1. Sprinkle salt inside a wet glass
  2. Check to see how it coats
  3. If it coats the glass evenly, it's clean
  4. If it doesn't stick on spots, the glass is dirty

Lacing Test

  1. Fill a glass with beer
  2. Pour a bit out to let foam settle
  3. If it creates parallel rings, it's clean
  4. If it has a random pattern or no pattern, it's dirty

How to Clean Beer Glasses Properly

If you're looking to keep your glassware clean, it's important avoid the following:

  • Avoid using the glass for other beverages like milk, soda, or juice
  • Do not dry the glass with a regular towel
  • Take care to not store the glass near grease, dust, or heavy odors
It's best to put together an effective washing, rinsing, sanitation, and drying process to keep glasses ready for use. While selecting chemicals, keep in mind that portion packets are also easier to use over large jars.

The benefits of portion packs include:

  • No need to measure behind the bar on a busy night
  • Less waste due to over-mixing - many over-measure when diluting cleaning chemicals
  • Less chance of under-mixing - especially important when it comes to sanitizer
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1. Pick a Detergent

Bar glass detergent is specifically made for quick and easy cleaning thanks to its concentrated formulation. It can remove stains (like lipstick) with ease, but also get rid of other less visible stains such as grease-based residue.

Regular glass cleaner should only be used with manual glass washing brushes for best results. Plus, this detergent is specially made to rinse completely and leave your glass crystal clear and free of any soap residue.

If you're going to use an electric glass washing brush, be sure to pick a low suds cleaner. It offers the same benefits as regular bar glass detergent, but the low sudsing formula is more friendly for use with an electric brush system.

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2. Choose an Effective Sanitizer

It's important in any warewashing system to use a good sanitizer after washing and rinsing your items, so you can rid them of bacteria that cause infections. For proper sanitizing, be sure to use water heated to at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When used properly, your sanitizer can also meet the Federal sanitation guidelines so your kitchen is compliant.

If you're worried about appearance, the Noble Chemical Last Call liquid sanitizer packet is a great option. Its special formula makes glassware shine while sanitizing your glassware to rid it of any dangerous bacteria.

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3. Properly Dry Glassware

The best way to keep your glassware clean while drying is to always air dry it. Using a towel can leave lint, odors, and germs on the glass. However if you need to speed up the drying process, you can use a microfiber towel to get the job done and keep your glass clean. 

Just make sure you always dry glassware thoroughly so that no mildew is able to grow. Also consider storing your glassware in a spot that has good air circulation and is away from odors, dust, grease, or smoke.

Steps for Cleaning a Beer Glass

Once you've selected the chemicals you want to use, it's time to create your warewashing system. You should follow directions on your cleaning chemicals for mixing it, however below is a guideline of what your process should look like for a clean beer glass.

  1. Start with a clean stainless steel sink. Use a little bit of bar glass cleaner and a clean brush.
  2. Fill the bowl with hot water almost to the top of the brushes. Add mineral solvents to prevent hard water spots while the glass dries.
  3. Measure the proper amount of glass cleaner mentioned on your packet and add it to the first sink, sprinkling over the burshes.
  4. Fill the second bowl with clean hot running water to rinse the detergent off glassware coming from the first bowl.
  5. Fill the third bowl with about 3 gallons of hot water. Add the proper amount of sanitizer and test that it's the proper concentration.
  6. Wash the glass in the first sink, making sure all parts of it come in contact with the brushes. If using a 3-brush manual system, clean with the center brush.
  7. Rinse glass in the second bowl placing the bottom of it in at an angle and then withdrawing at an angle to prevent air from forming, for a thorough rinse.
  8. Repeat this process in the third bowl, dipping the glass into your sanitizing solution. Follow any local and/or national sanitation guidelines for proper sanitizing.
  9. Air dry the sanitized glass upside down, on a corrugated drain board to allow for maximum airflow around the glass and optimal results.

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