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When the Glass Breaks: How a Cold Beer Can Become a Living Nightmare

November 2020

On a very hot summer day, a regular customer finished mowing his lawn and headed to his favorite local tavern for a little reward after a hard day’s work. The bartender opened the reach-in cooler where the pint glasses were aligned upside down in stacks of four. She reached down to pull a glass but ended up pulling an entire stack because they were stuck together by a thin layer of ice that had formed between them. She twisted the top glass ever so slightly, freeing it from the glass below. What she did not realize is that a small sliver from the glass below was now resting at the bottom of the glass.

As the glass filled with bubbly golden goodness, she did not notice that the sliver of broken glass had floated its way to the top, where it came to rest in the foamy white head, waiting to wreak havoc.

The hot and thirsty customer took a large first drink. As he swallowed, he thought he felt something that was not quite right, but it did not hurt and almost felt like a small piece of ice may be lodged in the back of his throat. He finished the beer and headed home, not knowing that the thin shard of glass was now slowly slicing his esophagus.

As the night went on, swallowing became more painful, and he began to have difficulty breathing. He was taken to the ER, where the small tear in his esophagus was discovered. The tear had caused internal bleeding. The result of this innocent trip to the tavern was three surgeries, a collapsed lung, a bacterial infection, chest tubes, drainage tubes, two weeks in intensive care, and four more in recovery, adding up to $400,000 in medical bills.

As far-fetched as this scenario may seem, it did happen, and ICC handled the claim. This could have all been avoided if two glasses had not been stuck together.

Glass is fragile and can break if not handled or cared for properly, so always try to remember:

  • Never stack your glasses. When glassware is stacked, unwanted friction occurs causing stress that weakens its structural integrity, ultimately leading to breakage.

  • Never carry glasses in bouquets. While this is a tempting way to carry several glasses at once, and is impressive visually, over time it does more harm than good. As glasses contact each other, they become weaker and prone to breakage.

  • Never add ice to a hot glass. This temperature shock is detrimental to the glass, increasing the chances of cracking.

  • Avoid letting the beer tap come into contact with the glass. The constant clinking of the glass against the tap puts strain on the glass, making it more prone to breakage.

  • Never use a glass to scoop ice. Not only is this an unsanitary practice, it can cause the glass to chip, crack, or break. Broken glass in an ice bin is extremely dangerous. It is difficult to locate and could end up in a customer’s drink.

Sometimes breakage is unavoidable but keeping a few simple tips in mind could be the difference between an enjoyable customer experience and a life-changing nightmare.

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