Finding the right beer is usually the easy part, especially today. Craft beer selections are expanding just about everywhere you turn, but are you pouring that beer into the right glass? Did you know beer has a right glass?
There are as many glasses to serve beer in as there are beers. There are stories from travelers to Belgium of bars refusing to serve a specific beer if the proper glass isn’t available. I don’t think we need to take it to that extreme, especially when drinking at home, but given the thought we put into drinking beer (and the enjoyment we get out of it), finding a glass that can enhance your beer only seems appropriate.
Over the years I’ve collected my fair share of glasses, not knowing anything about the purpose of the glass beyond holding a volume of beer. As I’ve learned more about beer, I’ve also learned more about the glasses, and actually made an attempt to broaden my selection of glassware.
So what’s the difference? It’s fairly complicated, and if I were to go into long descriptions, I am sure I would lose many readers and to be honest, I really don’t know. What I do do know are the basics. Light, subtle beers typically go in a tall slender glass. Big, burly beers, go best is a wide rimmed glass.
My three go-to-glasses are in the middle row, starting on the left. I actually have four go-to glasses, but for some reason I didn’t take a picture of my lager glass. Basically, as the beer gets darker, stronger, I move to the right. The lager glass is great for lighter lagers while the Chimay goblet is better suited for barleywines and Belgians.
My favorite glass is my Arrogant Bastard glass. Not sure what you would call it, but it’s a combination of a classic pint and a pilsner flute with a short stem. Appropriately, it can hold 22 ounces, and really suits big malty Double IPA, strong ales, and anything else loaded with hops and alcohol that might come in a 22 oz bomber.
Still looking to add to my collection. For those barleywines, I would like to get a nice beer drinking snifter. I find brandy snifters, but they are so thin and delicate. A beer glass should have a little more girth. I’m also looking for a tulip glass for drinking Belgians. Unfortunately, nobody knows what this is, and I have yet to find one in a store. Right now my options are buying one online for $5 a pop plus shipping, or stealing one from Russian River (don’t worry Vinnie, I won’t do that). I also need a better pint glass, but that’s something that can wait.
I realize none of this helps you, the reader, so I have included some other resources. Ratebeer will list the glassware for whichever beer you’re drinking if you search for the brew. They also have a general glassware article that address each style of glass. Not a fan of Ratebeer and prefer Beer Advocate? Don’t worry, they have you covered as well. Beer Advocate’s glassware resource is a little more technical and includes recommended styles for each style of glass. Realbeer has a quick rundown for the entry level beer glass collector.
If all you have is a pint glass, so be it, but with the right glass, you really can show off some of the features of a beer. Whether it’s a crystal clear pilsner showing off it’s trademark appearance in a skinny flute, or a wide mouth goblet letting the complex aromas and flavors open up in the wide bowl, each glass and beer has a strength. See if you can notice the difference.
Update: New Additions