Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Reds offer more local beer; tips on glass cleaning

Sips: Beer

By Ed Westemeier
Enquirer contributor

More good news to report this week:

• If you haven't been to a Reds game lately, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find significantly greater availability of locally brewed beer. Let's hope sales convince those in charge of Great American Ball Park vendors to keep offering something for real beer lovers, as well as those who are more easily satisfied.

• It looks as if the Hofbrauhaus in Newport is off to a roaring start. When I visited, less than a week after the opening, they already were sold out of two of their five beers. Since the place appears to have barely enough storage capacity, their brewers should be busy. In a way, that's good, because the freshest beer is usually the best-tasting beer.

When the full lineup is available again, I plan to review all the Hofbrauhaus beers. I don't think it would be fair to judge them on only part of their range, and especially on their first batch.

I will say that they've done a good job on creating a German look and feel to the beer hall. Having visited several beer halls in Germany, I felt very comfortable there.

The basics

A question from reader Ian Mansfield reminded me it's a good idea to cover some of the basics now and then. Mansfield is having trouble creating a good head on his beer. He suspects the problem may be detergent left on the glass after it has been washed. He wants to know how to remove the minute particles of soap.

Great question. In a nutshell, the great head killer is fat (grease) in any form. Often this comes from lipstick, lip balm, sunscreen or something you ate (or are eating).

Even the slightest speck of grease can affect the head. It should come as no surprise that, no matter how good those chips taste with the beer, they will have an effect on the head (not to mention your waistline).

The reason is that a good head on a beer (and I believe strongly that it's an important part of a beer-drinking experience) is dependent largely on certain types of proteins in the beer.

In turn, the proteins are mainly a function of the types of malt used by the brewer. Several things can lead to poor head retention, but the glassware is generally the primary culprit.

Preserving the head

• The best thing you can do is to reserve beer glasses for beer, and never use them for anything else, especially milk.

• The next most important thing is to use the right kind of detergent. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are best, but most dishwasher detergents do a good job (avoid using a rinsing agent, though).

• Generally, normal dishwashing liquid isn't a great choice unless you rinse the glass very thoroughly and allow it to air dry. If you see spots on an air-dried glass, it wasn't cleaned well enough.

Contact Ed Westemeier by e-mail:

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