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Glassware for Beer

14/07/2018

The glassware you choose to pour your beer has a big influence on the taste and aroma of beer. Know more about the shapes and sizes of beer glassware here.

The choice of proper glassware for your beer can make a big difference in how much you enjoy the taste and aroma of that beer. The important point to keep in mind is that it is not so much the price of the glassware that matters – it is the shape and size of the glass. Thus, even if you are serving a German Weizenbier (“wheat beer”) in the most expensive glassware you can find online, you will never get the same type of flavour and aroma as if you were serving it in the exact glass – the Weizen glass – designed specifically for wheat beer.

In fact, in some parts of Europe, each brand of beer will have a specific glass that is designed to accompany that beer. In Belgium, for example, if you order a beer in a bar, you will get the beer served only in that type of glass. That should give you a good idea of how important glass shape and size is to the enjoyment of your beer! With that in mind, here’s a brief look at some of the most popular styles of glassware for beer.

Mug (Stein)

The classic beer mug is one of the iconic shapes for beer glassware. Mugs are heavy, sturdy, and usually come with a handle that makes them perfect for “clinking” together with others in a group. If you’ve seen beer commercials on TV, then you’ve probably seen beers being poured into mugs and people using them to toast each other. Mugs are designed to hold a lot of volumes. A variant of the mug is the stein, which is a German beer mug with a lid. (Fun fact: the addition of the lid was a German innovation during the time of the Black Plague to prevent pestilent flies from dropping into beers)

Pint glass

The traditional British pint glass is cylindrical with a slight taper and a wide mouth. There are two basic variants of the pint glass – the 16 oz. pint glass (also known as a tumbler) and the 20 oz. pint glass (also known as an Imperial pint glass). The best part about pint glasses is that they are easy to make, store and clean. It is actually possible to stack them, freeing up more room in a bar.

Weizen glass

The best glassware for Weizenbier (wheat beer) is known as the Weizen glass. This glass has thin walls and has an elongated shape. The shape of the glass allows for plenty of headspaces and is designed specifically with wheat beers (including Hefeweizen) in mind.

Goblet (Chalice)

A goblet glass is designed to maintain the head of the beer. At the same time, it has a wide mouth, which enables you to take deep sips. In general, if this style of glass has a long stem, it is known as a goblet. If it is heavier, with thicker walls, then it is known as a chalice. The classic beer for this type of glassware is a Belgian IPA.

Pilsner glass

The typical Pilsner glass is a tall, slender 12 oz. glass. This shape is especially good for capturing the fizzy effervescence of a beer. The classic type of beer to serve in this glass is a German Pilsener.

Flute glass

A flute glass very much resembles the type of glass you might use to serve champagne. And that’s not a mistake – the long, narrow shape is specifically designed to retain carbonation (i.e. fizzy bubbles). And it can be used to showcase the sparkling colours of a beer. One of the best beers to serve in a flute glass is a Czech Pilsener.

Oversized wine glass

Is it possible to use a wine glass to serve beer? In some cases, the answer is “yes.” For example, a 22 oz. an oversized wine glass is often used to serve some beers, such as Belgian ales.

Snifter

Yes, you can use the same glass that you use for brandy or cognac for some styles of beer. You will only want to use the snifter with certain very aromatic styles of beer, such as American or English barleywine. The snifter glass is designed to be swirling since the act of swirling helps to unlock and release some of the volatile aromatic compounds that contribute to intense aromas.

General rules for beer glassware

When using and maintaining beer glassware, there are a handful of rules to keep in mind if you want to maximize your beer experience. One of the most overlooked rules is that you should never chill your glassware, such as by putting it in a refrigerated space. Many bars do this in the summertime, assuming that it is something that their patrons desire.

However, there are two good reasons why you should not do this – chilling a glass will reduce the temperature of your beer, and this will mask some of the flavours and aromas of the beer. And secondly, chilling a glass will lead to condensation on the walls of the glass as soon as the beer is poured into the glass. This condensation will act to dilute your beer, giving you a slightly different taste and aroma profile.

And another general rule is that you should always hand-wash and air dry your beer glassware. Dishwashing detergents can leave behind tiny residue on the glass that could impact taste, as well as the ability of the head to form. The same goes with a dishwashing towel – it may leave behind tiny residue that may not be observable to the human eye, but will nonetheless alter the taste of a beer. Moreover, if your beer glassware has fancy logos on it from a brewery or beer brand, you won’t want to put into a dishwasher.

Final thoughts

Putting it all together, the two most versatile styles of beer glassware are the beer mug and the pint glass. If you are looking to build up your own collection of glassware at home, this should be the main starting point for your collection. Then, depending on your taste in beer, you can branch out to acquire glassware specifically designed for a certain style of beer. If you enjoy a nice Czech Pilsener, for example, you will want to invest in a long, narrow flute glass.

The shape and style of beer glassware really do matter. It can help to showcase attributes such as colour, clarity and carbonation. And it can help to maintain the head of a beer and concentrate some of its taste and aroma. So don’t settle for just any glassware – choose the one that fits your style of beer.

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