Oct 24, 2011

Glassware for your Beer.....

All shapes and sizes
I’ve mentioned I would be doing something on this for a while now, and I figured it was time to finally put this together. Since I’ve already done a piece on tasting a beer, and pouring one, I figured choosing glassware should be the logical next step, if not the very first step in experiencing your beer. This is something that is near and dear to me, since I have a collection of well over 100 glasses, most of which are displayed (thanks to my lovely, VERY understanding wife) in our home. So, obviously, beer glasses are sort of a special thing for me.

I have a lot of people chuckle when they hear someone reference a beer glass as having any sort of effect on the flavor of a beer. However, the importance of the glass should not be over looked. Just like wine, every style of beer has a style of glass that best suits that style. Now, is it necessary to have the exact style glass to enjoy your beer? Of course not. However, I would argue ANY glass at all is better than drinking a beer out of the bottle, unless, the reason you are drinking that beer is to quench your thirst, or looking past the taste of the beer in order to reap some other purpose, i.e. getting drunk, social acceptance etc. With a minimal investment, you can get 4 or 5 beer glasses that will serve most functions, and take you beer drinking experience to that next level. Here are some of the more popular and easy to find styles that you should consider to help get the most out of your beer.

The Standard Pint
Shaker or Pint Glass.

The Brewpub standard and generally excepted American “Beer Glass”. While not ideal for really any style, it’s good for most. The reason pubs prefer this glass, is mostly for its ease to manufacture, and ease of storage. Works well as a general beer glass, especially for most of the light American Lagers. It has a very large mouth that does allow you to take in some of the aroma while drinking, and taking very large gulps in the process.

Pilsner (or Pokal)

The elegant Pilsner glass
The Pilsner Glass is probably one of the most beautiful, elegant ways to enjoy a beer. Its long slender form (normally holing 12 oz) makes for a great vessel to observe beer. Showcasing the beers clarity and carbonation, allowing the volatiles in the beer ample opportunity to be released, charging the flavor quite well. Best if used with lighter colored beers, such as, obviously Pilsners, Witbier, Red Ales, as well as Light Lagers.

The Beer Snifter

This is my favorite style of beer glass; to me it works well for a lot of styles. The very same shape as your grandpa’s brandy snifter, just bigger, often holding upwards of 22oz. They normally appear to hold much more, however, but they are only meant to be filled about a third of the way to the top. The large bulb shape is perfect for capturing and holding volatiles and aroma of the beer, and as we know, aroma has an enormous effect on how we taste the beer. Not to mention, it is also a great looking glass! This style works well especially for Barelywines, since they have a strong nose. Also works for most Double/Imperial style Ales, like Stouts and IPA’s.

The classic Beer Mug.

The classic, albeit somewhat boring mug
Much like the Shaker, or Pint Glass, this is a very general style, and doesn’t work great for really any style, but well for most. You will normally see darker Ales in this style, like Porters and Stouts. Plus, the handle makes it easy to hold on to, allowing for more quantity, making this a great mug when drinking prodigious amounts of beer is the plan, like at Oktoberfest!

The feminine "tulip" glass
The Tulip Glass

By far the most feminine style of all the beer glasses, this is also a very worthy glass for any beer glass collection. Nothing more than a smaller longer stemmed version of the Thistle Glass (or, here in the States, we call it a “Hurricane or Pina Colada Glass, used in Europe to serve Scotch Ales) this style of glass works great, for larger, full flavored styles, as well as Lambic’s and many fruit flavored beers. Also works well for stronger IPA’s. While I know a lot of men would feel less then macho drinking a beer out of this glass, it is a great glass for capturing volatiles, it is also a great glass for displaying rich, foaming head on a beer, so men, be open minded and try this one. This is a great “beer porn” glass when you want to display beer, or capture it in photos.

The Weizen Glass

A very "Kardashian" style glass!
Another of the more popular glass styles found in America, this is another elegant glass. They vary in size, but are often capable of holding a large amount of beer, and displaying that beer most effectively. Its long slender, curvy shape, and thin glass walls are perfect for showing off the clarity and carbonation of the beer, much like the Pilsner glass, however, unlike the Pilsner, the bulb shape at the top trap and hold aroma and volatiles very effectively. Making this not only a beautiful beer glass, but a very versatile one as well.

Sturdy, yet elegant
Goblet or Chalice

This chucky, sturdy yet eye catching style is almost strictly for Belgian Ales, and most specifically the Trappist Ales. These glasses are normally very stout in build, with a long, thick stem, and wide open mouth. Great for catching all those complex aroma’s those monks have in their beers, as well as displaying the thick, porous head most of them have. Its wide mouth make for easy “gulping” making this a very efficient delivery system for your Chimay, Orval or any of the great Trappist ales. A lot of the Abby’s will actually score the inside of the bottom of the glass, which adds surface area, giving the CO2 something to grip on to, creating a great head, and allowing for great head retention as well.

Oversize Wine Glass.

So, if you don’t have any of the glasses already mentioned something most of us having in the house is a large, bulb style wine glass. Beer in a wine glass you ask? I ask, why not? Both are complex, aromatic beverages that want you to look at them, and smell them in order to appreciate every aspect of them. The wine glass is a great general beer glass that offers many of the advantages of the glasses listed above. These glasses work best for a lot of the stronger Belgian Ales, as well as many of the American Double/ Imperial styles, even some Barelywines, but work well for so many others.

The all look better with something in them!

So, look around, a lot, if not most of these styles are available just about anywhere. So pick up a few, and experiment with them, trying different style beers in different style glasses, and see what works best for you. Again, there are no rules, just guidelines. If a barelywine tastes better to you in a pilsner, than it does in a snifter, then by all means, drink it from a Pilsner. Don’t let anyone tell you what works best for you, they can only tell you want is the generally accepted practice. So, play around, enjoy yourself, and try something new. Remember, its beer, its suppose to be fun!

Bottoms up my friends!

1 comment:

  1. very good read... I feel Im becoming quite educated on BEER!!! :) thank you!!! :) Daniell~