Imagine a beer that has been meticulously brewed, stored, and handled its whole life. From field to shelf, this beer has had a perfect existence, and now it belongs to you. You lucky son of a gun! What are you going to do now? I think you know…
But don’t just drink it. Take in the aroma. Observe the color and hues. Delight in the story of flavor. Ponder the aftertaste. But before all of that, for Ninkasi’s sake, pour it in a glass!!!
Drinking straight from the bottle is on the same level as leaving the front door open when I was a kid. My Mom would scold me, “Do you think we live in a barn?” And so I ask you, “Do you really think you’ll be able to appreciate your beer without proper glassware?” I don’t want to hear your smart ass answer. Go to your room.
All seriousness aside, there’s a whole world out there that exists for the sole purpose of harboring your beer while you move it to and from your lips. I’m talking about glassware! There’s a wide assortment of shapes and sizes uniquely fashioned to give you the best experience from a particular beer or style. Beer bars worth their malt take note of this, and stock their shelves not only with beer, but with appropriate glassware to pour it into.
I have taken it upon myself to gather up misfits of glassware from thrift stores and breweries across the globe. What began as a glass or two has grown into an entire display of glorious shapes and brandings. Yes, I am a proud hoarder of beer glasses.
And now you not only ponder my mental condition, but also why I would need anything other than a standard pint glass.
My dear, let me count the ways…
Use For: Cocktails…. not beer.
There’s no glass like the shaker pint that brings out the beer snob in me. This god-awful, poor excuse for a beer vessel should only ever be used for its original purpose: shaking up cocktails. Shaker pints are constructed of thick glass, with straight sides, and an outward taper to the top. This leaves a wide mouth, allowing most of the aroma to escape before your sniffer has a chance. And have you ever tried to swirl your beer in one of these? I hope you like beer on your hand and floor.
If this glass was made for cocktails, then why is it being used to hold my precious beer? Having already had a home on the bar shelf, this unflattering glass was soon being used for beer because of its ability to hold a large volume (16oz). Soon, breweries were branding them, and now it’s the standard. Gross.
Use For: Belgian Ales, Saisons, IPAs, Strong Ales
If I could only choose one glass to use for the rest of my life, it would be the tulip glass. A base and short stem connect to a bulb, which tapers inward and then flares outward slightly at the top. The stem allows you to hold the glass without the warmth from your hand warming the beer. But the stem is also short enough to hold the glass by the bulb and not look like a dumdum. The large bowl is perfect for swirling beer without wearing it, so you can smell the beer and not smell like it. The inward taper concentrates aroma, while the outward taper fits your mouth like a glove.
Of all the glassware I’ve seen, tulips feature the most variety. How many varieties have I seen of the shaker pint? Zilch. Nada. As my grandfather used to say about parades, “You seen one, you seen ‘em all.” Tulips, however, have the variety game down pat.
Use For: Pilsner!
Some styles of glassware are meant for multiple styles of beer, while others are meant for just one. The pilsner glass was created to make pilsner look super sexy. Now that it’s the most copied beer in the world, I’d say it worked!
At the time of pilsners invention, most beers were dark in color due to the common kilning process of malt. Josef Groll, the Father of Pilsner, utilized a kilning process that resulted in a light-colored malt. This gave the resulting beer a light golden color. What better way to show off this new, golden beer than in a tall, slender glass? The footed base provides stability, while the slight taper supports the head. Watching bubbles rise all the way to the top of the glass is mesmerizing. It’s like a lava lamp you can drink!
English Tulip Pint
Use For: Irish Stouts, Irish Ales, English Ales, Porters, Red Ales
Most commonly branded with the word “Guinness”, English tulip pints hold about 20oz, which considers them to be imperial pints. If you gave a shaker pint curves, practicality, and four more ounces, you would get the English tulip pint. The slight bulb ⅔ up the glass supports the head and makes the glass easy to hold. The gentle taper at the top concentrates aroma, and helps prevent spills. With all that volume and good looks, it’s the perfect session glass.
Join me for Part II in two weeks to hear my pretentious opinion on other beer glassware like the weissbier vase and bolleke goblet!