Using the right glass when drinking beer can have as much affect on its profile as the ingredients that go into brewing it. Since the first impressions we get from beer are its look and smell, how those two components are presented make all the difference. Let’s start with Aroma.
If you’re familiar with Wine, you’ll notice that a specific style of glass is always selected by tasting room staff, or your bartender. The round, bulbous body of the glass (with the exception of sparkling wines) helps to capture gasses inside the glass, allowing the wines’ aroma to build and be enjoyed. For beer, the same is true. Use of the Stemmed Tulip glass, and its derivatives serve a similar purpose for Craft Beer: They aid in trapping aroma’s just inside the lip of the glass, so that you as the drinker can enjoy them fully before taking a sip. In the case of the Tulip styles, a lip is often used to direct beer flow into the mouth, minimizing dripping and in gathering aroma’s for presentation to your nose during each sip.
Unlike its cousin, the Shaker pint, tulip-style glasses make use of a stem in order to minimize the drinkers hand contacting the body of the glass. As you might guess, this plays a roll in reducing the transfer of body heat into the beer, ensuring you get a proper temperature beverage. Also, in a more visual way, the full round body of the tulip-style glasses present the coloring of the beer to you, the drinker, showcasing what the brewmaster wanted you to experience when looking at it. All of these components are designed to captivate your senses, and drive your palette to a flavorful experience.
From you’ve probably guessed, I’m a big fan of Tulip glasses, but that is obviously just one of many classical styles. Here are a few traditional vessel’s used for serving beer across the world:
“Nonic” Pint – Always noticeable by the flare just below the rim of the glass, so called “Nonick” pint’s have been in use since the early 1960’s and are commonly used for English-style, lower ABV beers. The “Nonick” was created to help in stacking glasses, preventing a vacuum from forming, causing the glass to stick and possibly break when separating them. They’re also really good for holding when you just can’t find a seat at the bar.
Shaker Pint – An unfortunate side effect of American innovation, and limited bar space, the so-called Shaker Pint was originally designed to be a part of a common Bar tool: the Cocktail shaker. Early American bar owners realized that they could save space and maximize profits by using the same glass for beer serving, and viola! One of the worst ways to experience Beer was born. If you get a chance to drink a good Craft Beer from a Shaker Pint, pass on it.
Tapered Pilsner – Classic vessel for an iconic style: the Pilsner. Its tapered “V” shape promotes good head retention, which is all part of presenting Pilsner’s to the drinker.
Weissbier Glass – This curvy beauty shows off the pale, straw colors expected in any great Wheat beer. It also does a great job of supporting a thick, frothy head, which is part of the Wheat beer experience.
While these four glasses should be recognizable by most people, they are just a part of large history of drinking vessel’s. Keep an eye out here for most posts on classic glassware soon!