Be the Best Darn Beer Drinker you can be… The Importance of the Beer Glass

Perhaps the most important lesson is to serve your beer in a glass in the first place; think of it like a beautiful pair of shoes in their cardboard shoe box – you would take the shoes out of the box before wearing them wouldn’t you? The size and shape of a beer glass impacts upon the appearance, aroma and taste of beers. So take the time to put your craft beer in a glass it will only enhance already great ale. The feel of the glass in your hand, how easy it is to hold, the stability of the glass when you set it down, how the rim influences where the beer will hit your palate, the ability to minimize the heat transfer from your hand, the need for a handle, the preservation of head and aroma etcetera are all factors to consider when you are serving a pint. Interestingly many styles of contemporary glassware employ shapes similar to glassware that has been used by beer purveyors for many centuries. Perhaps our beer forefathers knew what they were doing. Clear glass is almost always the best choice, and faceting in the glass can enhance the presentation of the beer by refracting the light. Ultimately the type of beer you are serving will dictate the most appropriate glassware but when in doubt there are a couple of all-purpose glass styles that can accommodate most brews. We craft beer drinkers pay so much attention to the nuances of the brewing process it seems only obvious that equal care and attention be paid to the vessel in which we serve our beer.

Before I continue with glassware allow me a quick aside about head: Beer foam forms at nucleation sites. Nucleation is a physical reaction which occurs when components in a solution start to precipitate out, forming nuclei which attract more precipitate. The creation of a strong head on a beer can be impacted by external factors such as the pouring technique employed, the cleanliness of the glass and the condition of the glass (chips or scratches). Some glassware like the Chimay Goblet and Dogfish Head Snifter have logos laser etched into the bottom of the glass to create nucleation sites and facilitate the continuous release of bubbles that maintains beer foam. When serving a high hopped beer be mindful that the bitter hop compounds will preferentially migrate to the head. Ideally you want to pour your beer in such a way as to create a rich and creamy head. To do this you need to suck it up and pour the beer right down the middle of a straight up glass. This will create a large amount of head that will settle into denser creamier foam. Pour, wait for the head to settle, pour some more, wait for the head to settle, then pour the rest of the bottle. This style of pour will also release some of the carbonation that can mask aroma. Be suspicious of any beer that arrives at your table too quickly!

 

Glass Name

Glass Attributes

 

Best for

Shaker Pint Designed for mixing cocktails

Large serving size

Not Much
English Tulip Pint Narrowed bottom

Large size

Irish Stouts
Nonick Pint Bump keeps the rim from chipping

Easier to hold for stand-up drinking

Low Gravity Session Beers
Snifter Deep incurved rim

Small stature

Barley Wines

Imperial Stouts

Stemmed Tulip Inward taper holds aroma

Outward flare supports head and fits lips

Best All-Around
Tapered Pilsner Narrow shape shows off pale colour

Outward taper supports head

Footed design adds stability

Pilsner
Weissbier Vase Large size holds foam

Inward taper concentrates foam

Hefeweizen

Weissbier

Bolleke Goblet Inward taper concentrates head and aroma

Small size

Strong Beers
Pokal Small size

Outward taper supports head

Bock
Updated Pokal Inward taper concentrates head

Stem keeps hand from warming beer

Belgian Beers

Imperial IPA’s

Maibock

English Dimpled Pint Comfortable

Lens design makes a beautiful play of light

Mild Ales

Bitters

Bavarian Seidel Glass version of stoneware krug

Large size

Pilsner

Helles

Oktoberfest

* Mosher, Randy 2009 Tasting Beer An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink.

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