We’re all familiar with the standard “shaker” pint glass, which derives it’s name from it’s original use as a cocktail shaker when paired with a slightly larger metal cup. They’re cheap, durable, and easy to stack, making it a popular choice for many American bar owners. But despite being the common choice for many beer drinkers, it’s not the best fit for craft beer.
You’ve probably seen other glasses of all shapes and sizes… but do they really affect how the beer tastes? Turns out, they do! Not only that, the geometry of the glass can affect how the beer looks, smells, and even how the beer feels in your mouth.
So how do you know which glass to use? When determining appropriate glassware, an educated drinker will note the beer style, and consider things like alcohol content, and whether the beer is bottle conditioned. Here are a few quick tips to help you choose the right glass for the right beer…
The weissbier vase has a tall, slender shape that beautifully displays the bright colors and swirling haze typical of wheat beers. The glass is tapered at the bottom and wider at the the top to provide ample space for the thick, frothy head, representative of the style. A quick rinse with cold water can help break surface tension and reduce excessive foaming, though a great head is a desirable characteristic of any wheat beer, helping to lock in the aromas of the beer being served.
This is the preferred glass for hefeweizens, weissbiers and other wheat beers.
The tulip glass, named for it resemblance to the Spring flower, is my favorite glass for craft beer, and will work in most cases if you’re struggling to find the right glass. The flared rim helps support the head and fits well to your lips, while the inward taper helps hold aromas inside, a treat to the senses with every sip. You can also hold this glass by the stem to prevent heat transfer from your hands to the beer, or conversely, cup the glass in your hand if the beer is served too cold.
This is the preferred glass for serving Scottish ales, American double/imperial IPAs, barleywines, Belgian ales and other aromatic beers.
Tapered Pilsner Glass
Pilsner glasses are tall, slender and tapered to reveal the color, and carbonation of the beer, with a broad top to help maintain head. They are similar in appearance to the Weissbier vase, but a true Pilsner glass has an even taper without any amount of curvature.
This is the preferred glass for Pilsners, Amber Lagers, Maibocks/Helles Bocks, and other American and imported lagers.
Typically used for serving brandy and cognac, the snifter is perfect for capturing the complex aromatics of Belgian ales, IPAs, and stouts. The shape of the glass allows swirling to agitate volatiles, producing an intense aroma. At the same time, the snifters smaller size make it a great choice for beers that are high in alcohol, such as barleywines and Russian imperial stouts. Like the tulip, the round shape allows for the beer to be warmed by the hand, as these styles are generally meant to be enjoyed at 55-60º F or “cellar temperature”.
This is the preferred glass for Belgian Strong Ales, Gueuze, Flanders Red, Russian Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, Wheatwines, and other aromatic or high alcohol content beers.