The Importance of Glassware Handling
Every beer drinker deserves getting a beer in the right glass, poured properly and presented well.
Draught beer can be one of the best ways to enjoy a beer but there are many steps that go into creating this wonderful experience. Let’s start at the beginning.
Glassware should be stored upside down on ventilated mats with the logo facing outward. Upside down ensures that air-borne bacteria will remain outside of the glass. The ventilated mat will allow the glass to air dry properly and the logo outward showcases your branding to the customer or at the very least, the bartender. When purchasing the drying mats, look for something that is durable, can be cleaned and will elevate the glass off of the shelf.
Glassware should be handled gently. The bottom two-thirds of the glass is for the bartender or server while the top third is for the consumer. It’s crucially important to keep hands away from the top of the glass. Glasses need to be rinsed on the inside with cold water to bring the temperature of the glass down to the temperature of the beer. Bar-top spray rinsers will do a perfect job but you can also use a pop-gun for spraying the inside of the glass. Once the glass has been rinsed, you can start the pour.
Pouring draught beer requires some training and thoughtfulness. The glass should always be kept away from the tap. If a glass touches the nozzle or if the nozzle touches the beer, bacteria will soon form and taint the beer. Pouring a 20-ounce glass of draught takes approximately 9 seconds (the proper flow rate of beer is 2 ounces per second) and therefore, the bartender should be encouraged to only pour one beer at a time. This will allow any issues in the draught system to be observed and corrected. For example, if the beer is pouring slowly, you can then drop the glass down further to create foam. If the beer is pouring too quickly, you may want to keep the glass higher to the tap. Always start on a 45° angle and then gradually straighten the glass to build the correct amount of foam. The timing on this depends on the draught system. Once the beer is finished, the bartender should then close the faucet and remove the glass from underneath. If a beer is left under a tap, a tiny droplet of beer will leave the tap and break the seal of the perfectly poured foam, thus collapsing the head quickly.
At the table, servers should be encouraged to take pride in the delivery of the beer. If a properly branded coaster is available, it should be placed down facing the customer. Then the beer gets placed on the coaster with the logo being turned to face the customer again. This final little step acknowledges the importance of the branding and gives the customer the proper experience they deserve.
Lastly, here are some things to avoid when handling beer glasses.
- Stacking glasses – when glasses are stacked, the become scarred on the inside which can trap bacteria and fatty substances creating a non-beer clean glass. In addition, stacked glasses do not dry properly and can therefore create more opportunities for bacteria growth.
- Other beverages – beer glasses are meant for beer and nothing else. If you put other beverages in your beer glasses, you are inviting other substances which may once again lead to a non-beer clean glass. This includes things like Caesars and any other drink that may have substances that will cling to the side of the glass.
- Hanging glasses – when a glass is hung upside down near the bar, it openly attracts air-borne bacteria to the inside of the glass and makes it very difficult to get clean
- Touching the inside of the glass – some servers and bartenders will remove glasses from a table by picking them up in a bouquet (grabbing all glasses with your fingers inside the glass). Not only is this very unhygienic, it also puts oils and bacteria from our hands onto the inside of the glass, removing any possibility of a beer clean glass.
- Freezing or chilling glassware – this creates way more problems than necessary. Freshly washed glasses that go into a chiller or freezer trap bacteria on the inside of the glass. Secondly, they create massive foaming issues when pouring as the beer and the glass are at two separate temperatures. These extreme temperature shifts can also crack and break the beer glass.
The beer glass is more than just a vessel to serve beer in. It is marketing at its best and showcases the thought behind designing a glass that is absolutely perfect for the beer and the beer experience.
Written for Brand Concepts by Roger Mittag, President of Thirst For Knowledge Inc. (Canada’s leading beer education company) and founder of Prud’homme Beer Certification® (www.tfkbeer.com ), a five-star beer education program.