Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Glassware Godliness

Nobody in their right mind wants residual muck tainting their beer now, do they?  I sure as hell don't! 
Even the most miniscule amount of soap, lipstick (or chapstick) and/or grease can affect the beer within your chosen vessel at the molecular level; the first sign being visible bubbles clinging to the inside of the glass and, more crucially, lacking head retention.

We all know why carbonation is a vital element to beer.  Without it we don't get quite the same hit of aromatics, refreshment, nor the enlivened mouthfeel.  Moreover, the aesthetically pleasing appearance of a beer is not only tarnished but ruined altogether.  A clean glass is as important to a beer as the pour and the temperature at which it is served.

I will skip the thorny issue of select local pubs (and in some cases esteemed bars and restaurants) not cleaning their glasses properly and focus instead on enjoying beer in one's home.  Both the importance of serving beer into the most appropriate vessel and the pleasure of procuring a top notch glassware collection cannot be overstated, however there is little point in either when the glass is allowed to become filthy with all manner of foreign matter.

With that in mind, what are the best ways to go about cleaning one's beer glasses?

The guys at Mane Liquor (an independent craft beer focused bottleshop in Perth who carry the Spiegelau glassware range) suggest that regular rinsing, wiping and blasting with hot water is adequate, particularly during regular usage.  Wiping the outside is just as important as wiping the inside - fingerprints are nothing short of unsightly.  There might be times, particularly after a rather late night, whereupon beer is left in the glass which may call for the use of detergent.  As undesirable as this might be, leave the glass to sit for an hour or so (longer if need be) and rinse very thoroughly in hot water so as to remove as much detergent as possible.

Joel from another of Perth's favourite craft beer emporia in Cellarbrations at Carlisle says: "The purists would go nuts if they hear of anyone using detergent," however it could be said that a necessary evil may be called for.  Obviously prevention is better than cure!

Meanwhile, the folks at Melbourne's very own artisan glassware and bar accessory makers CRAFTD. offer the following sage advice: "We rinse the whole glass and wipe down the outside - to get a polished finish we use a glass polishing cloth (we got ours from David Jones).  This ensures the dust or impurities are removed from the glass - so the beer pours correctly and doesn't foam up.

"When finished and the glass needs cleaning, rinsing first is always ideal immediately after use, preventing bad odours or sticky residue.  Then we hand wash in clean, hot, soapy water with a non-abrasive cloth or otherwise gently with a scrubbing brush.  Any prints on the glass should not be scrubbed or they will most likely fade.  We have found that drip drying is best but if you have the luxury of neither time nor space, drying with a tea towel followed by the glass polishing cloth will restore your glass to perfect condition.

CRAFTD. went on to reiterate the point about the unsightliness of filthy dactilograms left behind on glassware: "Tip: Try not to leave fingerprints on the glass - we all have more oily hands than we might think!"

Finally, for the truly anal folk out there (such as myself) who are unfortunate enough to share their abode with others, it is worth drawing up and strictly enforcing a rule by which a nominated cloth (or similar) is used for the purpose of cleaning glassware only.  Ensure that it is kept in the cleanest place possible, for whatever grub is on it will end up on either side of the glass if it is allowed to live in a filthy corner of the kitchen.

So there you have it.  Clean glassware is as integral to the drinking experience as the perfect pour and the company you are drinking with.  Foodies will tell you that presentation is absolutely everything - it has to be said beverages are no different.  After all, there is nothing more aesthetically pleasing than a luminously golden Belgian blonde shimmering within an immaculately clean glass.

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