Beer Service

Proper Beer Service

Four Sins of Beer Service

Dirty Glass

1.  Dirty Glass:

-   Bubbles stuck on glass in liquid beer indicate the presence of dried on beer or other soil. 

-   Really bad if you see lines, patches or sections of bubbles on the glass

-   Just as bad as lipstick or lip marks on the rim

Cause: gunk on inside of glass creates a “nucleation” point—a gathering place for CO2 bubbles.

Bottom line: Bubbles do not stick to CLEAN glass.




2.   Undercarbonated beer:

-    Pours with no foaming in the glass

-    Micro-thin head

-    Very little “prickle” on the tongue

Cause: low CO2 pressure on keg, improper gas mix (nitrogen/carbon dioxide)

Bottom line: Beer that lacks adequate carbonation doesn’t taste right.



3.   Old Beer

-    Dusty bottles

-    Beyond date code

-    Tastes papery, cardboardy, waxy, sherry-like

-    Hop aroma & flavor fade, become dull

Cause: Long transit & storage time from brewery to consumer.

Bottom line: Time and temperature degrade beer flavor.



4.   Skunky Beer

-    Bitter compounds in beer can turn skunky

-    Happens with sunlight or fluorescent light

-    Brown bottles block damaging wavelengths

-    Green & clear bottle beers can skunk in minutes

Cause:Lighting; green and clear glass containers.*

Bottom Line: Beer must be protected from damaging light.

* Miller Brewing Company uses specially treated hop compounds in their clear-glass bottled beers to prevent the skunking reaction.  




The Cicerone Certification Program’s

Beer Drinker’s Bill of Rights

Beer drinkers have the right to enjoy their beer!

Beer drinkers have the right to be served:

  • Beer that tastes the way the brewer intended it to taste.
  • Fresh beer free of papery, waxy, sherry and other oxidized flavors.
  • Beer that has not exceeded its “best-by” date code.
  • Skunk-free beer.
  • Beer in a clean glass.
  • Beer that is properly carbonated.
  • With a glass that doesn’t smell like sanitizer. 
  • With a glass large enough for the advertised serving size PLUS an inch or more of foam head.

Beer drinkers have the right not to worry about any of the above when ordering a beer: all of these things should happen without the customer having to ask for it!

Beer drinker’s questions about beer should be answered in a simple, clear way so that ordering a beer is no more complicated than ordering an entrée.

Want to know more about serving great beer? Join the ranks of our Certified Beer Servers and Certified Cicerones®! Check it out at