Why We're Obsessed With Clean Lines

Has this ever happened to you? You just ordered your favorite beer. You know, the one that you've had a thousand times and could easily pick out in a blind taste test. You take a sip and are immediately disappointed with the dirty, musty, buttery suds. Maybe you ask the bartender to double check that it's the right beer. You start wondering if it's a bad keg or if the brewery has started to go down hill with its quality control.

It could be that you're just drinking from dirty draft lines. 

My first big "ah ha" moment came from a reverse situation. When I first moved to Seattle there was one particular beer that became my go-to whenever I was hanging out anywhere that didn't specialize in beer*. I drank it not because I really liked it, but rather because it was pretty much ubiquitous in the city. The beer and the brewery both had a great reputation, but I didn't think very highly of either. My experiences left a bad taste in my mouth that I just couldn't get rid of. One day I visited the brewery in person and had that very same beer. I am so glad that I did! I took a sip and literally blurted out, "holy crap! This doesn't taste anything like the shit that I've been drinking. This is really good!" This was around the time that we were planning TeKu's opening. I had been doing a lot of research on draft systems and draft maintenance and realized that the groaty off-flavors I'd been tasting weren't the brewer's fault; they were the bar's. 

Beer enthusiasts make a big deal out of getting the very best beer drinking experience. We gravitate to only the most well-crafted products, keep an eye on freshness, and obsess over proper glassware. What many of us don't think about, though, is draft cleanliness. The Brewer's Association recommends cleaning lines with a caustic solution every two weeks to remove organic buildup (yeasts and bacteria that can develop nasty off-flavors). Most reputable establishments will follow these standards; however, there are plenty of places out there who don't. Before you grab your next draft beer at your local pub, ask when the last line cleaning was. It might make you reconsider your order.

-Rich

* The beer was Lucille IPA from Georgetown Brewing. Now that I know what it's supposed to taste like, I'm a big fan of both the beer and of Georgetown brewing. We did our first collaboration beer with Georgetown for Seattle Beer Week 2016. Speaking to the quality of the beer itself, Lucille won a gold medal in the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards

 

What's in a name?

We often get the question, “is the Teku the best glass to drink beer from?” My answer is always, “not necessarily.” There are a lot of factors that contribute to glassware design. Some are functional while others are purely aesthetic. But first, let’s talk about the glass itself.

What’s the deal, why did we name our business after it? The Teku design was a collaborative project between two Itilian beer enthusiasts: Teo Musso, owner and Master Brewer of Birra Baladin, and sensory expert Lorenzo Dabove, who operates under the alias Kuaska. Karrie and I discovered the Teku glass while traveling through Europe on our 1-year anniversary/belated honeymoon. All the craft focused beer spots seemed to be serving in it and it was around the time that we were searching for a business name. When we got home we did some research and found that the glass was created with the intention to serve as the industry standard for beer sensory evaluation, much like the ISO glass used by wine sommeliers. Teo and Kuaska wanted to combine form and function to create something that was both elegant and that heighted the beer tasting experience. What they created was a long-stemmed glass that resembles a typical wine glass, but with sharper contours and an outward-flaring lip. I’ll let you be the judge of aesthetics, but I will make a few points about the functional design. The tight taper of the glass captures the volatile flavor aromatics release by the beer and concentrates them to your nose. The sharp outward taper at the top of the glass increases turbidity as the beer flows from the glass to your lips, which forces CO2 (carbonation) out of solution along with more aromatics. There is also an option to have the glass laser etched at the bottom to form a nucleation site where a constant string of bubbles can form to create a similar effect.

It was the spirit of the glass’s design that inspired the name Teku Tavern. We had a shared goal of elevating the beer drinking experience for you, the consumer. Our mission at Teku Tavern is to create the best beer drinking experience possible. So back to the question, “is the Teku the best glass to drink beer from?” Because the Teku is so good at releasing and concentrating aromas, and because the tasting experience is so closely linked to smell, it can heighten the overall experience of certain beers. For others, certain flavors may become overwhelming. I recommend that you decide for yourself what the glass works best for. Experiment. Grab your favorite beer, or maybe a couple different styles of beer. Pour half in a Teku glass and the other have in another style of glassware. (Even better, try several!) Do side by side comparison. What flavors really pop in one glass vs. the other? Is that a good thing?

I’ll go into more detail about glassware design in a future post, but ultimately, it’s your pallet and your beer drinking experience. Drink what you like, drink it in the glass you think presents it best, and have some fun doing it!

-Rich