People know that when you drink champagne, flutes are in order and red and white wines each have their own style of glassware. What is the point? The shape of the glass is custom made to enhance the flavors and texture of these beverages. Beer, despite the contrary, generally should not be drank directly out of the bottle or can because flavors will be stifled, textures will be dulled and just like wine, beer needs to breathe.
Each type of beer should be served in a particular glassware such as a tulip glass or a pint. Yes, there is a method to this madness, as well as a sophistication generally not associated with beer. Although this tradition of glassware is not as prevalent in the US of A, head to Belgium and you will visit bars that are stocked with every style of glassware to accompany the many genres of beers.
And without further ado, I present you with the various styles of glassware:
Pilsner, a light bodied, light colored, easy to drink and highly carbonated beer is served in a glass smaller than a pint glass, usually in 250 ml or 330 ml sizes. They are tall, slender and tapered. The slender glass will reveal the color, and carbonation of the beer, and the broad top will help maintain a beer head.
The Beer Stein
I am very fond of this style of glass- its large and it has a top that you get to flip open when you want to take a sip. I searched the streets of Dusseldorf, Germany to find one to no avail. This style was invented during the Black Plague so beer drinkers could keep insects and disease out of their glass. Therefore, it is not built to enhance your beer, but protect it instead.
The most popular glassware among beer drinkers in the USA- it is cheap to make, easy to store and easy to drink out of. We have a cabinet full of them, from different breweries and bars we have visited within our country’s boarders. I associate pint glasses with hoppy beers such as IPAs or thick beers such as dry stouts. There are two standard sizes, the 16-ounce (US Tumbler – the pour man’s pint glass and most common) or the 20-ounce Imperial (Nonic), which has a slight ridge towards the top, a grip of sorts and helps in stacking them. The 20-ounce version is preferred to accommodate more beer or beers with large crowning heads.
Goblet or Chalice
These noble glasses are generally paired with Belgian ales- big sipping beers such as Triples, Quads, Weissbier, Dubbels as well as German bocks. A description from Beeradvocate.com tells us the slight difference between a goblet and a chalice:
Majestic pieces of work, ranging from delicate and long stemmed (Goblet) to heavy and thick walled (Chalice). The more delicate ones may also have their rims laced with silver or gold, while the heavy boast sculpture-like stems. Some are designed to maintain a 2-centimeter head. This is achieved by scoring the inside bottom of the glass, which creates a CO2 nucleation point, and a stream of eternal bubbles and perfect head retention as a result.
I associate these glasses with royalty and the wide mouth lends itself to deep sips.
Used for stiff drinks like cognac and brandy, the snifter is the baller of glassware. These glasses are perfect for evoking flavor and scent. Therefore, this particular style of glassware should be paired with strong beers like barley wines, imperial stouts and barrel aged beers, as well as lambics (due to their fruity scent and sugary bodies). My only advice to you is…don’t forget to swirl your glass!
A dainty, pretty shaped glass named after the flower it mimics, the tulip glass is stemmed with an hourglass figure. Bulbous at the bottom, the flavors, aromas and head are all captured at the angled top. This style of glassware is perfect for Imperial IPAs (talk about lacing and a foamy head), Saisons/Farmhouse ales (it will bring the funk to the forefront) and Scotch Ales (the maltiness will knock your socks off).
The size and shape of glassware matters when aiming to get the most of your beer, but decoration is key when showing it off. Decorative glassware has become an art in the beer industry across the globe.
Breweries have showcased glassware with artistic designs to complement your beer drinking experience. Duvel, a Belgium brewery makes their own glassware and has for some time. It is a stumpy tulip glass with their logo on it, simple, nothing out of the ordinary.
Recently, they released a collectible item: the Duvel Collection. Three glasses, four international artists (there is one team of two artists) and three creations make up the Duvel Collection. Each glass has a different creative approach, but all are vibrant and eye catching. Christmas is coming up, if anyone is so inclined.
Another brewery, Delirium Tremens from Brussels, Belgium (been to the brew pub!) is known for their quirky pink elephants which grace their bottles, glassware and other promotional apparel. Although Delirium Tremens refers to a severe form of alcohol withdrawal, the vibrant, fun loving glassware will make your shakes disappear. Generally, the glassware I have seen by this brewery are in the form of larger snifters.
Most pint glasses you see in the USA will have the logo more or less printed onto the glass (which is why you should hand wash your pints or else the design might start to fade away). Firestone Walker came up with a more creative way to decorate their glasses. The Firestone Walker pint glass I own has their logo of a bear fighting a lion (how cool) etched into the glass. This gives the glass a sleekness and the scene some depth.
Beer glassware is the only thing I collect (oh and beer) as each one is unique–some more than others. Owning at least one of each style will enhance your experience and make the beer you are drinking feel that much more special. Buying glassware has become a way to hold onto the memories we have from a brewery visit, a night at a beer bar or a beer tasting. Glassware, the gift that keeps on giving.
Have a favorite to share with us? Let us know in the comments.