If you’ve visited a brewery taproom or beer-centric bar, you might have noticed bartenders turning your glass upside down over a small surface that sprayed water inside of the glass. Normally this glass rinser, or, star sink, is found right by the taps or glasses are stored. By the time you’ve finished your first beer of the day, you might have seen this action multiple times and wondered what is going on.
A star sink/rinser doesn’t take up a lot of space and is a great addition to beer-focused bars or breweries. You might incorrectly assume this quick rinse is for cleaning, when in fact, the bartender uses this process to ensure the beer arrives into the glass – and, in turn, to you – in the best possible way.
Here are the three ways this process helps your beer:
The water down splashing the side and bottom of the glass acts as a lubricant for the beer flowing from the tap and into the glass. This quick spray helps the carbonation (bubbles) flow evenly down the sides of the glass and settle quickly, leaving you with more concentrated beer than head (foam) in your glass.
- Head Retention and Aroma
Along with helping your beer arrive into your glass, star sinks also help the head on the top of your beer stay concentrated as well. The head of your beer is where a lot of the aroma is and it can enhance the flavor of the beer if you take a quick sniff before taking a drink.
- Keeping Things Cool
Since well-crafted beer focuses on flavor, frozen or chilled glasses are not typically used. As a result, most glasses sit on a shelf behind the bar at whatever the room temperature is. This means when a bartender grabs your glass, the glass can effect the beer temperature slightly. Even though the glass is likely only 20 or so degrees warmer than the beer being poured into it the quick splash of cool water will cool the inside of your glass and help keep that beer from warming up to fast, leaving you with the opportunity to enjoy that cool brew in the best possible way.
Don’t worry, beer is made up of +93% water so it’s not going to water down your beer, especially with a less than a second or so squirt of water. And while it’s true some bars actually rinse glasses before pouring, the actual use of a star sink isn’t focused on that. If you are handed a glass that doesn’t seem clean, send it back and ask the bartender for a properly cleaned glass that can then be splashed with water from the star sink.
Beer is meant to be enjoyed and shared, but sometimes there are little things we (and your neighborhood bar) can do, to enhance that experience and make it a memorable one.