If you’ve ever gone to a nice bar and ordered a beer, you may have been confused—and concerned—when you saw your bartender rinse a glass quickly before serving you. Do they not wash their beer glasses ahead of time? Is that the full extent of the washing your glass will get—because that did NOT look very thorough? Was there some dirt or a bug in the glass? Luckily, the real answer has nothing to do with cleanliness and more to do with optimizing the taste of the beer.
Rinsing a glass (that of course has already been washed) removes any lingering dust or detergent residue from the glass, which ensures that the customer is only tasting the beer they purchased and not anything else that would interfere with the intended taste. For this reason, good beer bars, especially those that specialize in craft beers, install glass rinsers, often called a star washer or star sink, right behind the bar so they can quickly and effectively give the glass a final rinse right before serving.
But the benefits don’t stop there: When the water from the sink blasts the glass, it also makes it more slippery, minimizing the friction when the beer fills it. Because of this, you get a cleaner pour and a more fragrant head, which also helps enhance the taste of the beer. Additionally, the final spray of water also helps to keep the glass cool, which in turn keeps the temperature of your beer lower, and who wouldn’t want a beer that stays cooler longer?
So next time you see one of these sinks near the bartender when you’re ordering up your favorite craft beer, don’t fret. It’s not that this is their only washing mechanism: They just want you to maximize your beer-tasting experience.