Presenting Draft Beer to the Customer

Brewers excel at brewing and packaging superior quality beer in kegs. System manufactures, such as Micro Matic, invest significant time and effort to provide the latest technology and knowledge for the dispensing of draft beer. However, even if the beer from a keg is delivered clear, and the quality is unchanged on the way to the faucet, the presentation of this brew is still not complete.

The condition of the glassware and how the beer is poured is all in the hands of the serving staff. The quality of the glassware and the presentation to the customer relies completely on the knowledge and skills of the bartender.

Retailers who understand and successfully apply these skills enjoy optimum profit from their investment in draft beer. They encourage repeat purchases and give their customers a reason to return. Those retailers who do not have the skills are not taking advantage of a very profitable product, and may be encouraging their customers to go elsewhere.

The purpose of this article is to explain the importance of clean beer glassware and to describe the proper technique for cleaning glassware so as to insure the dispensing of a visually appealing, great tasting beer.

What can go wrong?

Glassware may look clean, but can have an invisible film or odor that can destroy the flavor and aroma of beer.

Cause and Effect of Glassware Issues

Glassware issues originate from sources such as, using the wrong detergents like dishwashing soap or bleach for disinfecting. Additionally odors maybe acquired from chilling glasses with smelly food items. The following chart lists the causes of glassware problems, and the effect on the beer or for the customer as a result.

Cause Effect
Using oil based detergents such as household dishwashing soap leaves a film on the glassware that impedes the formation of a 1/2" to 3/4" foam head during dispensing. The CO2 bubbles, which make up this desired foam, release the flavor and aroma of beer during consumption. This foam head also represents a significant portion of the glass volume, resulting in a very profitable presentation. Clean glasses can yield many additional glasses per keg.
Using bleach or iodine to disinfect the glassware will also leave a film as well as impart a medicinal odor onto the glass. What you smell is what you taste.
Chilling/freezing glassware with other food items or on bleached towels can also impart odors onto the glass. Frosted glasses, although considered visually appealing, end up diluting the product and contaminates the flavor with disinfectant frozen onto the glass. Ice coating the inside wall of the glass, makes dispensing very difficult, resulting in significant waste, and flat beer.
Mineral deposits build-up forming a film if hard water or if high mineral content is present. Appearance of glasses can become cloudy.
Hanging glassware overhead exposes them to smoke or other contaminates. What you smell is what you taste. Appearance of glasses can become cloudy.
Using bleached bar towels to dry glasses leaves behind an invisible film, lint and, or odor behind. Storing glassware on a towel transfers these odors and impedes drying time. What you smell is what you taste.
Incorrectly sized, dirty or warn brushes affect the washing process. The bottom of a tall glass cleaned by a brush that’s too short results in CO2 bubbles clinging to the bottom, and then rising and escaping, allowing the beer to go flat.

Glass Washing Procedures: Prepare the Sinks

  1. Depending on the sink configuration, four or three, clean sinks with a brush and sanitizer before each shift. Fourth sink is used for dumping unconsumed product. Thoroughly rinse sinks.
  2. Using a detergent and sanitizer that are compatible with each other, begin preparation of the sinks.
  3. Pre-portioned packets are convenient and assure proper sink mixtures.
  4. Choose time-release sanitizers to assure glasses are always hygienic during an entire shift.
  5. If heavy mineral content is suspected in water, mineral solvents should be added prior to adding detergent and sanitizer to sinks.
  6. Always follow manufactures recommended procedures and rotate cleaning products to keep them fresh. For electric brushes, use low suds detergent. Fill sinks to overflow down tubes.

Add Glass Washing Detergents to the Sinks

  1. Fill the first sink, based on desired workflow direction, with warm to tepid water. Accurately measure the detergent, sprinkle a small amount onto brushes, and then the rest into the sink. Use clean and correct sized brushes.
  2. Fill the next sink with cool water.
  3. Using two clean glasses, fill one 3/4 full with hot water. Place measured sanitizer into the hot water.As the third sink fills with warm water, mix sanitizer and hot water back and forth between the two glasses above the third sink. When thoroughly mixed, pour into the full third sink. Use test strips to measure for an appropriate amount of sanitizer. Always follow local health regulations; Micro Matic recommendations should not supersede local health guidelines.
  4. Allow water from faucet to trickle into middle cool water rinse sink. This skims soap residue off the water surface into the overflow tube. Allow water from faucet to trickle into middle cool water rinse sink. This skims soap residue from the water surface into the overflow tube. The sinks are now prepared for glass washing.
  5. Prior to washing glasses, dump beverages into a dump sink (four sink system) or into a funnel placed into an overflow tube. Rinsing glasses from the faucet prior to washing extends the detergent’s sink life.
  6. Push and twist the glass onto the brushes while washing. Increase action for lipstick or heavily soiled glasses. Assure the inside bottom of glass is cleaned thoroughly.
  7. Submerse the glass in the second rinse sink, using the heel in, heel out procedure. This method prevents air pockets, and facilitates complete rinsing.
  8. Submerse the glass in the third sanitizer sink, again using the heel in, heel out procedure.

Dry the Glass

  1. Place the glassware on a clean raised grated surface to allow for proper drainage and to accelerate drying. This is critical to allow the sanitizer sufficient contact time to disinfect the glassware. If a beer is dispensed into glasses prematurely, before they have dried properly, unhygienic conditions may exist.
  2. Always dry glassware completely prior to placing in chilled storage areas.
  3. Dedicate chillers for beer glasses only.
  4. Do not store food goods with glassware.

How to Validate the Beer Glass is Clean: Test with a Glass of Beer

  1. Normally, after correctly dispensing a glass of draft, the appearance of this “package” should be a significant test.
  2. The freshly dispensed glass of beer should have approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch foam head. This froth should inhabit the glass during consumption. No fish eye or large inconsistent bubbles, which dissipates quickly, should be present.
  3. The glass of beer should be crystal clear with no bubbles clinging anywhere on the walls or bottom of the glass. Bubbles rising from the bottom or clinging signify presence of a film or contaminant.
  4. As the consumer drinks the beer, each drink should appear on the inside wall of the glass as a uniform ring of foam residue. This is referred to as “lacing”. Strive for even rings versus sporadic, uneven lacing.
  5. No unusual odors are detectable.

Additional Tests

  1. Submerse a glass in water. If water droplets cling to the glass, this would be a sign of a film present. The water should sheet off a properly cleaned glass.
  2. Try the carbonated water test. Use the soda water button on a soda gun, or pour from a bottle of carbonated water into a beer glass. If the water is perfectly clear with no bubbles clinging to the glass, this is a sign of a beer friendly clean glass. If bubbles cling anywhere, there is a film or some other contaminate present.
  3. Sprinkle salt onto a wet glass. If the salt sticks uniformly over the entire glass, there is no contamination. If it sticks sporadically and clear unsalted areas are present, the glass is not beer friendly.

How to Pour a Beer

Using the following techniques, the glass of beer can be successfully presented to the customer:

  1. Faucets are either open or closed. Opening a faucet partially or slowly will result in an abundance of foam.
  2. Never grab the tap marker or knob at the top. Always place a couple of fingers behind the lever at the lowest point close to the faucet with thumb in front. Note: Be careful not to disturb other faucets.
  3. Place a glass at a 45˚ angle slightly below, but without contacting the faucet spout.
  4. With a swift motion, open the faucet and allow beer to hit the inside of the glass, approximately one inch from the top.
  5. Always visually inspect beer flow for clarity. If foam or streaky beer is detected, immediately close the faucet. It is virtually impossible to pour clear beer into a glass with foam in it. Dump foam from the glass and start over. If problem persists, report problem to have the system serviced.
  6. As the glass fills, gradually upright until vertical. Allow beer flow to stream into the middle of the glass to allow for proper CO2 release.
  7. Upright quickly for 3/4” inch foam head, slower for a 1/2” head. Pushing with thumb, close faucet with swift motion.

Additional Considerations

  1. The use of automatic glass washers save time and effort and perform quite well providing they are used appropriately.
  2. Always refer to manufactures recommended procedures for maintenance and chemical usage. Detergents and sanitizers must be designed for beer glasses.
  3. Assure that detergents and sanitizers are beer glass friendly. More chemicals are not necessarily better. Always clean sinks and change solutions before each shift.
  4. Water used at the right temperature is critical (130° - 140° F).
  5. Use beer dedicated glassware. If possible, utilize sinks for beer glass cleaning only.

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