As the craft beer scene continues to get more popular, so to do the variety of beer accessories including beer glasses. And little do most people realize that beer-style specific glasses are important; in fact I’d argue even more important than the wine-style specific glasses. Beer covers such a wide spectrum of flavor-profiles and textures that the chemistry of these beers lend themselves well to different shapes and sizes of glass. Below, we’ll look at some of the more popular styles of glasses and recommend which style of beer to suit. Trust me, you’ll be enjoying your favorite beers like never before.
Perhaps the most common of beer glassware, you’ll find pint glasses as the glass of choice in the majority of American and British pubs. One of the reasons for this is that often times these glasses will be designed to ‘stack’ which is ideal if you need to carry hundreds of them. A bar I once worked at for example had 1000 of these glasses available for use at one time. Imagine the space you’d need if you couldn’t stack them.
There are generally two standard sizes. The 16-ounce (pour man’s pint- often American) or the 20-ounce (often British) sized pint. They are near cylindrical with a slight taper and wide-mouth for easy drinkability.
It’s the most common glass and many pubs will use them for all their beers. Don’t fall in the same trap!
Traditionally used for brandy or cognac, snifter glasses are wide-bowled with a short stem. A tapered mouth, these glasses are perfect for capturing the aromas of full-bodied and often stronger ales. There is no specific size for these types of glasses as volume will vary but they are generally smaller glasses as the alcohol volume specific to these beers will be much higher than your traditional pint glass. The main benefit of these snifter glasses will be that they do a fine job of capturing and enhancing the volatiles.
The craft beer scene has exploded and IPA’s are perhaps the posterboy of the boom. Pub lists are full of IPA’s and having a glass to support the complex flavors of your favorite IPA’s is extremely important. The aroma is so important when considering the perfect glass for your IPA which is why we like the ‘IPA Glass’. The bottom is ribbed to mix the hop flavors of the beer whether poured from draft or bottle and you’ll notice the top half is shaped much more like a wine glass than a beer glass. This is designed to capture the aromas and volatilities of the most robust IPA’s.
The Weizen glass is designed with European class in mind. Typically a full-half liter in size, the walls are generally thin to showcase the beer’s color which are typically bright with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. The glass will also typically allow for headspace as wheat ales are generally served with extra head. Look for a Konig Ludwig at a pub near you for an example of a proper Wheat Ale Glass.
Perhaps one of the more popular beer glass style for Belgian beers, the chalice (or goblet) is a majestic piece of work and will range in style. Generally designed with the big strong Belgian beers in mind, the rims will in some cases be laced with silver or gold. In some cases, the glasses will be designed to maintain a 2-centimeter head which is achieved by scoring the inside of the glass, creating a CO2 nucleation point. This then creates a constant stream of bubbles creating perfect head retention.
The beer glass everyone recognizes from Cheers! Often referred to as a stein, this glass generally makes a more consistent appearance during Oktoberfest events throughout the world but are also a staple glass in many homes and pubs. Popular for their clinking ability, mugs are a fan favorite among many beer drinkers. The stein actually dates back to the Black Plague when beer drinkers would put a lid on their beers to prevent flies from dropping in.
A tall and slender glass, the pilsner glass is designed for... you guessed; Pilsners! Designed to maintain the head of a pilsner while capturing the sparkling effervesces and color, it’s a glass you see a variety of versions of. It has since been adapted to match the size of an American pint glass and is common in bars and kitchen cupboards throughout North America. If you come across a glass that’s as I’ve described but with a stem, it’s actually known as a Pokal glass. If you’ve ever drank a Mongozo Pilsner from a restaurant or bar, you’ve probably seen the Pokal glass.
A Pilser (or Pokal) glass is great for:
Perhaps one of my favorite beer glasses, it’s one of the best beer glasses in my personal opinion. If you’ve had the pleasure of drinking La Chouffe or other similar style Belgian ales, you might have had your beer served in a tulip beer glass. Stemmed, and obviously tulip-shaped, the body of the glass bulges and then tapers towards the top of the glass. A glass which is typically served with a lot of head, the glass is designed to maintain said head. It’s also great at capturing the volatiles of certain beers which is why it’s typically served with higher alcohol beers with lots of flavor and alcohol %.
For those extra special beers, the champagne world shares it’s flute glass to lend a certain degree of elegance to certain types of beer. Ideal for beers light in color, the long and narrow body of a flute glass ensure that the carbonation of a beer doesn’t dissipate too quickly. It’s also ideal for showcasing the lively carbonation or sparkling color that some styles of beer lend themselves too. With beer flutes, the stem will in some cases be a bit shorter than traditional champagne glasses but this isn’t always the case.
The flute beer glass is also ideal for particular style of fruit beers such as lambics or radlers.
When it comes to hosting guests at your home, it’s important to have the proper glassware to accompany whatever it is you’re offering to drink. For example, many people might think it outlandish to serve wine without wine glasses. What’s the different when it comes to beer glasses? Honor the quality experience beer style specific glasses can provide and have a set of each of the glasses you find yourself serving.
Many people think beer should be served in a ice cold glass, often times freezing the glasses before service. This is a mistake and something that never be done, given the lager man in your life might prefer it. Frozen glasses create additional condensation, essentially watering down the taste of the beer. Furthermore, many beers aren’t supposed to be served extremely cold. Crappy lagers like Budweiser and Miller advertise their beers to be cold to hide the flavor of the beer. In some cases, beers (particularly stouts) should be served closer to room temperature to maximize flavor.
With any of the styles above, you’ll recognize quality overtime. Cheap glasses will easily chip and or break. With American style pint glasses, the glass should be thick and relatively heavy. Light pint glasses are typically extremely breakable. Some beer glasses however are supposed to be light, for example Weizen glasses, and should be handled with care.