A different glass for every beer style?
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Beer glasses come in all shapes and sizes. Does the type of glass you pick affect your taste experience? You bet it does… but you don’t need a different glass for every style of beer!
The geometry of the glass will make a difference, no matter what the brew. That, in fact, explains why beer competitions keep it consistent: every entry is served to each judge in the same type of glass. So which one should you choose?
If you want to keep your beer cold, go with something thicker, like a beer mug. If you’re in “tasting mode,” however, something thin – like a teku glass – gives you closer mouth contact, so you can better experience the flavours.
Looking for the thirst-quenching effect of carbonation? We recommend a long-bodied glass that’ll keep a steady stream of bubbles going. The glass itself is straight, so the beer slides right onto the tongue and you can have a big swig. The same goes for the weizen, stange and pilsner glass.
If you like the bubbles, but prefer them compacted in the head of your beer, you need a tapered rim. A tulip glass or snifter will retain both the head and aromas of your beer.
What about pint glasses? They’re easy to use, but there’s one flaw that’s common to all stemless glasses: your hands transfer warmth to the beer faster. So if you want to savour it slowly, choose a glass with a stem or handle.
Want to enjoy the aromas before each mouthful? You need a rounded glass. Swirling the beer to bring out the aromas is much easier with a tulip or snifter, for example. If you ordered a strong beer that’s served too cold, you can even cup the bowl by wrapping your hand around it, if needed.
Speaking of strong beers, what do they like best? Something like a chalice works well, especially for Belgian-type beers. The wide rim encourages you to sip the liquid as the alcohol aromas are dispersed.
One last category that should not be overlooked is stoneware or porcelain glasses. Steins, for example, are ideal for enjoying a brew outdoors in the summer. They’re made of a material that keeps the beer fresh longer and protects it from sunlight.
Generally speaking, English and American Ales are better in a pint glass, while easy-drinking lagers are great in a mug; a beer to be savoured tastes better in a tulip glass and strong beers in a snifter.
Careful, though! Manufacturers are trying to develop a different glass for every style. This may be interesting, but it has more to do with marketing than actual utility. The Belgians have, in fact, taken it to the limit, with a different glass for each beer in a given brand.
If one glass is all you want, I recommend the tulip, which is likely the most versatile. It handles nicely and gives you an excellent taste experience, whatever the beer style. The same goes for wine glasses, which work quite well for beer.
In the end, however, the ideal glass is still the one you like best… and no matter what container you choose, there’s one all-important rule: rinse your glass thoroughly before you pour. It helps get rid of unwanted residue, like dust and rinse agents, while cooling the glass – a small gesture with a huge impact.
Written by Yan Lortie, Beer Sommelier