The Importance of Beer Clean Glassware

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We talk a lot about glassware on and in Brewers Association publications, but it’s always nice when others beat the drum for “beer clean” glassware. In this case, Sixpoint Brewery took to their blog in “Beer Clean Glassware” to ensure all the work that goes into creating an amazing beer experience isn’t ruined by a beer glass that isn’t beer clean.

“Wouldn’t it strike you as tragic, if something like dust, or a spot of dish residue, compromised all this? Dude, you can’t mess this up! A glass that isn’t “beer clean” messes with head retention, banishes aroma, and compromises mouthfeel. The look isn’t right either — almost every beer deserves a healthy foam capper to keep oxygen out and aroma in.”

It might seem hard to believe, but beer isn’t like any other beverage when it comes to the importance of glassware. Beer’s carbonation is what is known as hydrophobic—it repels from water. Carbonation will stop at nothing to get away from water, hence the bubbles rising to the top of your beer. Carbonation’s hydrophobic quality makes it extremely important to have perfectly beer clean glassware.

(5 Cardinal Sins of Craft Beer Service)

What is Beer Clean?

A beer clean glass is free of any impurities: leftover sanitizer, beer, dirt, food, detergent, grease, chap stic, lipstick, lip balm, boogers, or anything else that would provide the escaping CO2 a spot to cling to.

These areas of grime act as nucleation sites, allowing bubbles to cling to and collect around the point. Any time you serve a beer in a glass that is not free of impurities you (or your customers) will quickly see the hidden residue that remains on a seemingly clean glass.

(Infographic: How to Choose the Right Beer Glass)

The Brewers Association’s Draught Beer Quality Manual (DBQM) describes a beer clean glass is one that, “forms a proper foam head, allows lacing during consumption and never shows patches of bubbles stuck to the side of the glass in the liquid beer.”

Bubbles clinging to the inside of a beer glass is the most obvious sign that a glass is not beer clean. I don’t care what is causing those nucleation sites, but I don’t want to be drinking it, and neither do you.


How to Achieve Beer Clean

A beer served in a beer clean glass will look inviting with a persistent foam head and consistent lacing will appear as you drink it. Sixpoint offered suggestions for getting beer clean glassware both in a commercial setting and at home in their blog post “Beer Clean Glassware

The DBQM also offers helpful tips including:

  1. Wash beer glassware separate from other dishes.
  2. Air dry glassware to avoid adding lint to the glasses.
  3. Pre-rinse glasses before serving to remove dust or other particulates.
  4. Avoid frosted glassware: each ice crystal acts as a nucleation point creating excess foaming.

A lot goes into that glass of beer, if you’re the last part in the chain to ensure a great beer experience, be sure it’s not spoiled by serving the beer in a dirty glass.

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's acting editor-in-chief for Andy is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Westminster, Colorado where he is an avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.