Glass Up Your Drink: Choose The Right Glassware for Your Beer
We preach it only because it’s the truth: a poured beer is a better beer. Good beer is complex in flavor, aroma and appearance and if you want to fully experience all the intricate characteristics that your favorite brew has to offer, be sure you pour it into the right glassware whenever you have the chance.
Mugs, Steins & Bavarian Seidels
We’re all familiar with mugs and their thick walls and convenient handles. Steins are a type of mug, though are often larger, are made from materials other than glass (ceramic, stone, wood), and feature a lid to deter the spread of bubonic plague (seriously). Seidel glasses, often recognized in scenes of Oktoberfest events, are large glass mugs that have circles carved throughout the vessel’s body. These indented circles showcase the color and appearance of the beer, creating a cut-diamond effect. Synonymous with German beers for many drinkers, mugs, steins and seidels pair well with lagers and low-alcohol, sessional brews.
This glass is also known as an English tulip pint. With a 20-ounce standard size traditionally used for Irish Stouts, the imperial pint showcases most beers well, especially those with robust heads. Features a traditional, familiar style that’s slightly larger in the top half of the glass than the bottom.
This is probably the most popular and most common glassware for serving beer in America, partly due to their relative low cost and stackable nature. While it doesn’t have some of the more specialized features of other beer glasses, the shaker pint goes well with amber and pale ales.
Features a bulge in the upper third of the glass that helps ventilate the beer as it heads toward your taste buds. This bubble also prevents the glass from slipping from your hand and protects the rim of the glass from being nicked, hence the name “No-nick.” Another good one for most beer styles, especially mid-range ABV beers, and would be the recommended replacement for the shaker pint.
More commonly associated with brandy or bourbon, snifter glasses have a large base with a slightly narrower top sitting atop a stem. Flavor and fragrance collects in the base and is then funneled toward the nose, with the inward taper enhancing aroma. Generally smaller in volume than typical beer glasses, snifters shine when tasting strong, robust or high-alcohol brews. One can hold the glass by the stem if they wish to keep their beer as cold as possible. Conversely, the glass can also easily be “palmed” if you do want to warm your beverage.
Pilsner glasses are tall and slim, widening a bit from the base toward the top. Helpful for enhancing carbonation and featuring an outward taper that promotes head retention, this style lends itself well to pilsners, wheat beers and lagers.
Similar to a pilsner glass, a weizen glass features more of a curved profile, especially toward the top. Their unique design is specifically tailored for wheat beers. Weizenbiers have high carbonation and dense, abundant foam heads due to the extra proteins from the wheat. These glasses are specifically shaped to promote head retention and are somewhat oversized to allow room for a larger head than you would likely prefer in other styles of beer.
Stemmed Tulip Glasses
Some beer lovers consider the tulip glass ideal. Like the snifter, the relatively large bowl captures a beer’s unique flavor while the inward taper captures the “nose.” The outward flair toward the top promotes head retention and provides easy drinking. And like the snifter, the glass can be held by the stem to stay chilled or palmed for warming. This style of glassware excels at preserving full, foamy heads and does best showing off strongly flavored beers such as Belgian styles, saisons or other full-bodied ales.
While rarely sophisticated or pretty, plastic cups are a fine alternative when nothing else is available. Pouring into the cup releases the important aromatics and carbonation while the open top allows your nose to take in the key notes you might otherwise miss when drinking directly from the bottle or can. The released carbonation also helps carry the aroma and makes the beer less filling for the consumer. The biggest downside to plastic is opaqueness that doesn’t allow you to enjoy the color and clarity of a beautiful beer.
Hop Valley Beers and Appropriate Glasses
Bubble Stash IPA – Nonic or Tulip
Bullé Bullé – Tulip or Snifter
Divine Shine Hybrid Ale – Nonic, Seidel, Stein, Weizen or Pilsner
Citrus Mistress – Nonic Pint or Tulip Glass
Alphadelic – Nonic Pint or Tulip Glass
Alpha Centauri – Tulip Glass or Snifter
Blonde – Imperial Pint, Nonic Pint, Seidel or Stein
Light Me Up Lager – Pilsner Glass, Mug or Stein
Neon Prince – Nonic Pint, Siedel or Stein
Macho Libre – Tulip Glass or Snifter
VIP – Nonic or Pint
Hefe – Weizen or Pilsner Glass