For many drinkers, a glass is a mere vessel to hold the drink and transport it to the mouth safely. The truth is that the type of glass you use plays a significant role in the taste, temperature regulation and foam retention of the beer, affecting the entire ‘beer’ experience.
For those that are still familiarising themselves with the ins and outs of the various brews, considering which glasses are paired with which beers may be intimidating, but understanding and mastering this wisdom will benefit the experience of every beer that is sipped thereafter. Follow this basic guideline and you’ll pass the glass test with flying colours.
A few factors in the anatomy of a glass will determine how the beer is presented to the drinker. Some of these factors include temperature control, the way in which the foam is supported and the restriction or presentation of aroma to the drinker.
‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ is a common saying, and it does not apply here at all. The rim is the messenger, it delivers the beer to the palate. This is the starting point of the experience. The palate’s first impression should be smooth, therefore the rim should be even and free from cracks, bumps or nicks.
The size of the glass is directly proportional to the alcohol content in the beer. A larger glass holds a lower alcohol beer, a smaller glass holds a higher alcohol beer. Portion perfection!
A glass with a flare towards the top allows the beer to hit the front of the tongue. A common example of such a glass is a pilsner flute, which is the perfect vessel for dark lagers, hybrid beers, speciality beers, wheat beers and wild or sour beers.
This shape supports a large foamy head well, allows for the fullness of the beer’s aroma to come forth and provides a more comfortable drinking experience. The snifter, for example, has a bulb shape. It’s a marvellous choice for speciality beers, strong ales or sour and wild beers.
A concave glass will keep the foamy head concentrated at the top. An example of a concave glass is the pilsner flute, as mentioned previously.
Typically seen in a bowl-shaped glass, a convex curve will capture the aromas of the beer better. A vase has a convex curve, and it works wonders with dark lagers, speciality beers, wheat beers, pilsners and pale lagers.
The bowl can be held to raise the temperature of the beer to optimum levels if required. Paired with a tapered top half, this glass will also deliver the aromas of the beer effectively. Pair with speciality beers, wild/sour beers and strong ales.
The right glass not only affects the sensation, the taste and the temperature of your beer, but it can play an important visual role too. We’re not suggesting there is anything wrong with popping open a bottle and sipping it from the source, but we do suggest keeping in mind the time and place for it. Some beers have marvellous aromas which can be lost if they are consumed straight from the bottle.
At the end of the day, different folks will enjoy different elements of the beer. If the aromas don’t appeal to you, forego the glass that will enhance them. Personalise the experience, and cheers to great beers, whichever glass you choose to use!