Monday, January 16, 2012

Proper Glassware: An Introduction

Happy Birthday Lindsey!

In recognition of Lindsey's birthday, I will be doing a post on something she finds very important, using proper glassware.

Beer and puppies: That's what Lindsey loves.

Let me start with a scenario: You are in Brussels. You decide that you want to drink a Tripel. The bar, however, is completely out of the proper glassware for Tripels. They will not serve you. Germans will do the same thing. If the proper glassware is not available, they will not serve you the drink. This might seem like a stupid thing to do to some people, but there is a reason for the proper glassware. The glassware is always made with the beer in mind. By using a different glass, you may be repressing the nose of the beer, which will in turn affect how it tastes. By not allowing you to drink the beer without the correct glass, the bartender is ensuring that your experience will be how the beer is supposed to be tasted. 

This one is supposed to be delicious.  It is.

The degree to which this is enforced is variable. Some places may be fine with serving you, as long as the glass is somewhat similar, while others won't serve you if they don't have that particular brand's glass (ie. Hofbrau in a Hofbrau mug). If this ever happens to you, don't be a jerk and get mad, just be happy that you are in a place that respects beer. (Would you get upset if a restaurant wouldn't serve you wine in a pint glass?)

I don't want you to think that this means that each style of beer has its own glass style (although many do). Some styles can be used in a variety of glasses. Below, I will lay out several styles of beer and explain which glasses are proper and why. 

German/Czech Pilsner: Pilsner glass, Stein, Flute. (Most German lagers follow the same guidelines)
The pilsner glass and the flute are meant to maintain the carbonation properly. They are also helpful in emphasizing the nose, which is subtle in these reasonably hopped beers.
The stein, on the other hand is meant for mass consumption. The heavy glass or ceramic keeps the beer nice and cold as you quench your thirst.
Lots of thirst.

Belgian Strong/Trappist Ales: Goblet, Snifter, Tulip, or a wine glass in a pinch.
These are all fairly similar glasses, but they all have their own purposes. The goblet has a wide mouth and helps to maintain a head (known as Belgian Lace). A snifter is meant to focus the nose of the beer in one location. A tulip glass is somewhere in between, attempting to achieve both head retention as well as capturing the nose. 


Most American/English Styles: Pint Glass, Mug
Realistically, a pint glass doesn't do a whole lot in terms of enhancing a beer drinking experience. The pint glass is meant as an cheap and easy receptacle for bars and homes. It is versatile and durable. It is meant more for drinking that enjoyment. These styles can be put into other glasses. A variation on the tulip is generally what I go with. 

 Personally,  I think this reflects the different beer cultures. The Belgians and Germans respect beer more than most other cultures and therefore do the utmost to make the beer drinking experience as enjoyable as possible.

I could talk about his forever, so I have to call it quits for now. I will leave you with a general idea of how to choose the proper glass.

1. Does the style have a glass named after it (wheat, saison, pilsner, koelsch)? -Go with that one.
2. Look on the back of the bottle. There may be a suggested glass.
3. Belgian? -Does the brand have a specific glass? Otherwise safe with a goblet or tulip.
4. Google it. 

Oh I almost forgot a style.

American Style Light Lager: Plastic Solo Cup (Preferably Red)
   The bright colors distract from the taste.

Maybe more on this later, I haven't decided.

If you want me to look at a particular beer or have anything to say to me, email me at

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