How to Clean and Care for your German Beer Stein
Knowing how to clean and care for your German Beer Stein is important. This should be done in the proper way whether it is an antique beer stein or a relatively new one. This not only includes what you should use to clean them with, but also how to display them so the elements do as little damage as possible.
For those of you that have some experience with German beer steins, you already know to display them, with the lids down. Many owners did not think of the aging process when they displayed their old steins with the lid up and the damage it could do. By keeping the lids closed, the interior of the steins will have a reduced amount of oxidation that could occur.
All steins are manmade and will age. With this understanding you should preserve your German beer steins the best possible way. The ultimate would be to place them in a vacuum sealed container to slow the aging process, but this is really unpractical.
Many German beer stein owners love to use their works of art when enjoying their favorite beer or ale. This is an acceptable practice and the choice of the owner to do so. If this is you, then make sure you take the proper precautions to help your stein last the test of time. The only thing worse than damaging your favorite stein while drinking it would be to cause damage while cleaning it so take the appropriate precautions.
First and foremost never use an automated dishwasher. These have a heat cycle that will cause the stein to dry out and possible crack. This is very problematic since the pewter and the stoneware that makes up the majority of German beer steins have a different expansion parameter. For those with glass, it too expands and contracts differently than the other materials. So at all costs never use your dishwasher to clean your steins.
To hand clean your steins, first place a thick rubber mat in the bottom of your sink or the tub you plan to use. For those of you that wish to take this a step further, also cover the sides so there is no possibility of the steins coming in contact with a hard surface when being handled.
The rubber lined container should then be filled with warm water and only a mild detergent should be used. Remember the hotter the water, the greater the chance of expansion by the material of the stein. This has to be minimized to preserve the stein in its original condition.
No matter how many German beer steins you have to clean, never place more than one in the tub at a time. A stein can damage another stein as well as any other hard surface.
The use of a soft sponge or tooth brush is the best cleaning instrument to remove any dirt or debris. If necessary soak the stein in the soap solutions for up to 5 minutes but never use a harsh scrub pad to clean your stein.
Rinse with clean water once it is clean thoroughly then dry with a soft towel, preferably cotton. The German beer steins should always be aired dried for up to 6 hours before the lid is closed. This will prevent any mold from growing on the interior of the stein. The only exception to this process is for wooden steins. They should never be totally immersed in water.
Remember the proper care and cleaning of your German beer steins today will help preserve this valuable art form so future generations can enjoy this piece of history for years to come.