Delicious in any vessel

During a recent trip to Falling Rock Tap House I looked around the table and saw several different types of glasses, wisely chosen by the bartender. It made me think of a post I wrote a while back on a different blog, Starting a Brewery.  So here goes…(slightly altered)

I think everyone has the right to enjoy their beer how they see fit; there is no right or wrong way. Others might say you have to drink a beer out of the proper glass in order to enjoy it properly. Well, I think there are some notable exceptions. For instance, how about drinking delicious beer out of the greatest trophy in all of sports (IMHO), the Stanley Cup. Or maybe, in a time honored tradition of “shooting the boot”, a rugby boot is the only option. Sipped from a timeless treasure while celebrating a victory or chugged from a sweaty rugby boot, salty aftertaste and all, these drinkers are enjoying their beer, regardless of the lack of a “proper” drinking apparatus. If you have any creative examples of beer drinking methods let us know. I’m kind of partial to “Gelande Quaffing,” but am open to most methods of consumption.

The snobs connoisseurs, however, certainly do know how to bring out the characteristics of a beer with the proper glass. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong in my analysis of the glasses below.

We start with one of today’s standards: The Pint Glass. Usually served as a 20-ounce glass (an imperial pint) in the UK and 16-ounces in the US, the pint is a versatile glass that is cheap, easy to make, and easy to store.  “Conical” pint glasses are just that, an inverted cone that tapers out at the top, and ”nonic” pint glasses (pictured) have a bulge near the top, some say for better grip and they won’t stick together when stacked.  In either form, just a few of the many beers that are commonly enjoyed out of these glasses include:

  • English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • American Pale Ale (APA)
  • Scottish Ale
  • Irish combinations (Black & Tan, Half & Half, etc.)
  • American Porter
  • American Stout
  • English Porter
  • English Stout
  • Barley wine

Another vessel one commonly thinks of is a mug or stein. Definitions vary as to what can be considered a stein, and what is simply a mug. They both have handles, are generally sturdy, and can withstand more abuse during celebration or anguish. They are easy to drink out of and some hold a larger volume of liquid. They can be made from numerous materials but the most common are glass and stainless steel, while pewter and ceramic were more often the material of choice in the past. In the late 1400′s large swarms of insects commonly attacked Northern Europe, prompting the Germans to cover their steins with a lid.  Many of the same beers that are commonly served in a pint glass are also served in mugs or steins.  Some additional beers include:

  • Oatmeal Stout
  • Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
  • Milk/Sweet Stout
  • Smoked Beer
  • Vienna Lager
  • English Strong Ale
  • Doppelbock
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Bock

Pilsner glasses are a more delicate tapered glass with a short neck at the bottom, they are typically found in sizes slightly smaller than pint glasses. They are designed to enhance the colors of a Pilsner while retaining a head.  Pilsner glasses also show clarity and carbonation, and enhance volatiles. Obviously, pilsners are ideally suited to this class of glass, but many other lighter beers are commonly served in pilsner glasses for similar reasons.  Some include:

  • American Malt Lager
  • American Pale Lager
  • German Pilsener
  • Euro Pale Lager
  • Japanese Rice Lager
  • Munich Helles Lager
  • American Adjunct Lager

Tulip glass is designed to enhance the characteristics of beers with large foamy heads. The top is pinched in to retain the head longer and enhance volatiles and strong aromas that often accompany these types of beers. Scotch Ales are commonly served in a variation of the tulip glass that resembles a thistle, the national flower of Scotland. Beers served in tulip glasses include:

  • American Double/Imperial IPA
  • Belgian Dark Ale
  • Belgian IPA
  • Belgian Dark Strong Ale
  • Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
  • Quadrupel
  • Farmhouse Ale

Another round bottomed glass, the Snifter, is also commonly associated with brandy and cognac.  It’s wide bowl tapers to the mouth, locking in aromas of stronger ales, and providing a perfect venue for swirling to release additional aromas.  These glasses usually have a short neck and can vary in height and volume.  Stronger beers that are commonly served in a snifter include:

  • IPA
  • Belgian Strong Ale
  • Barley wine (of several varieties)
  • Flanders Red Ale
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • American Double/Imperial IPA
  • Wheat wine
  • Scotch Ale
  • Tripel

The Weizen/Wheat beer glass is self explanatory, but if you missed it, wheat style beers are served in them. Their thin walls and tall stature showcase the colors, clarity (or lack there of), and carbonation of wheat beers. It is also designed to retain the head and aromas of these beers. They are wide at the top and have a slimming hourglass figure with a sturdy base to offset the height.  Expert servers will take care and slowly pour the beer to produce a large head and release the aromas of the beer. Some more common wheat beers that are served in these glasses are:

  • Dunkelweizen
  • Hefeweizen
  • Gose
  • American Wheat Ale
  • Weizenbock
  • Kristalweizen

In contrast to the rather elongated and shapely weizen glasses, there is the elegant and often ornate Goblet (or Chalice).  Delicate and thin goblets are often adorned with a gold or silver rim, while the heavier thick walled goblets often have a sculpture like stem.  Scoring the inside of the bowl of a goblet can create channels where streams of carbonation are released to keep a perfectly maintained head.  The wide mouth is perfect for taking robust sips that are a perfect balance between liquid and head.  Traditionally, some of the following beers are served in goblets:

  • Belgian IPA
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Dubbel
  • Tripel
  • Quadrupel

One of the most recognizable glasses for beer is the Yard, which conveniently measures roughly 3 feet.  Since its introduction, in 17th century England, it has been a favorite of those brave few with the will to challenge each other and the beer.  The goal is to take down the entire yard without a single pause or break for a breath.   A yard’s average of 60-ounces (US) can strain even the most seasoned imbiber.  There are a few tips out there to help take down this beast.  1) Pace yourself, there is no point in rushing, unless you are trying to break the world record of 5 seconds.  2) Slowly spin the glass as you drink to improve flow. 3) Watch out for the bulb, once air enters the bulb at the bottom of the glass a wave of beer heads towards the drinker, but don’t over correct, or the beer will stop flowing and you fail.  But, not addressing the bulb is equally as dangerous, leaving the drinker with a soaked shirt and a disappointed audience.  As the yard has gained popularity it is common to see many types of beers served in a yard or half yard (you can figure that one out on your own).  Traditionally English beers are served in yards, but Irish and Scottish beers are commonly served in yards here in the US.  Some include:

  • English Ale
  • English Dark Ale
  • English Strong Ale
  • English Porter
  • English Stout
  • Scottish Dark Ale
  • Scotch Ale
  • Irish Stout
  • Irish Porter

I have saved the best for last, and that would be the rugged taster from the Great American Beer Festival.  The miniature Weizen glass, made out of Lexan is the perfect solution for sampling the 1800 beers from over 450 breweries during the annual celebration in Denver, CO.  With a 1-ounce sample it would be 150 12-ounce beers to try each one!  This little guy makes the perfect vessel for any beer, delivering everything your heart desires.  GABF is just 26 days away, so if you didn’t buy your tickets yet, you better check craigslist or find a friend with an extra, yep, they are already completely sold out. Or, plan to buy your tickets earlier next year.

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2 Responses to Delicious in any vessel

  1. Pete says:

    I’ve never seen one of those yard glasses before — that sounds awesome! I could see myself doing that with something like a Boddingtons, though I would definitely need to lie down for an hour afterward.

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