Beyond the Bottle: Glassware for Beer
Sometimes the perfect ending to a hot summer night is a cold one. But while it’s tempting to simply pop it open and tilt it back, pouring your brew into a glass may make it even more spectacular.
That’s because, according to Pat Fahey, who in 2013 became the seventh (and youngest ever!) person to achieve the prestigious beer-expertise title of Master Cicerone, drinking your beer from a glass allows you to engage as many senses as possible. “Having your beer in a bottle deprives you of the ability to see or smell your beer before you take a sip,” he explains. “And, for me, aroma and appearance are key to fully appreciating all a beer has to offer.”
And while most bars consider the trusty pint glass (also known as an American shaker pint) a mainstay when it comes to serving up suds, Fahey says there’s more to explore. “Several beer styles have a type of glassware in which they’re typically served,” he says. “Sometimes it has to do with the characteristics of the beer itself, and sometimes it has to do with tradition. Either way, it’s nice to drink from a glass that does something for the beer.”
So the next time you serve up your favorite summer brew, consider opting for one of these glasses recommended by Fahey.
The tulip glass
Tulip glasses are best described as having a stemmed bowl that flares out slightly at the top. They’re Fahey’s all-time favorite. “Belgian strong ales are typically served in this glass, but at home I drink everything out of one,” Fahey says. “It makes for a good presentation, and since it has a bit of taper to it — like a wine glass — it serves to channel and concentrate the aroma of the beer.”
The hefeweizen glass
Another glass lauded by Fahey is the hefeweizen glass, which is most often shaped like a tall vase. “Traditionally they’re sized a bit larger than you actually need for your beer,” Fahey explains. “The extra room in the top of the glass allows for a giant head to form when you serve German hefeweizens or weissbiers.”
What’s so great about having a head — that is, foam — on your beer? According to Fahey, tiny carbon-dioxide bubbles that come out of solution when the beer is poured make up the head. These bubbles carry aroma compounds, which means a nice frothy head — Fahey recommends an inch to an inch-and-a-half of head depending on the style of the beer — helps to enhance the beer’s aroma. “Plus, it looks more appealing, too,” he adds.
The nonic-style pint glass
Fahey describes the nonic-style pint glass— also known as an English-style pint glass — as “looking much like a regular pint glass, except for a slight bulge at the top of the glass.” He enjoys breaking it out for dry stouts or English bitter-style ales. “It doesn’t do much to enhance the beer — kind of like a regular shaker pint — but it’s very traditional,” he explains.
More novelty than everyday
Fahey mentions two other types of glasses you might consider adding to your cupboard: the chalice and the pilsner glass. The chalice is usually the branded glassware of choice for breweries (or monasteries) that make Belgian-style ales. “It’s a fun way to serve this type of beer,” Fahey notes. “And the big open glass lets you really get your nose in there.” As for the tall, cone-shaped pilsner glass? He says it’s simply an attractive way to serve pilsner-style beers.
Your beer, your home — your choice!
Regardless of the beer you choose, Fahey says the beauty of enjoying it at home is that you get to decide how it’s served. “Just make sure your glass is clean,” he says. “Things like dairy, fat, and lipstick residue can kill your beer’s head.” Fahey also advises against serving it frosty-style. “In general, beer is best enjoyed between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” he says. “A frosted glass can chill your beer down even further, muting its flavors.”
And that, we say, is never a good thing for a tasty summer brew. Cheers!