Beer glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes with various glassware features intended to highlight particular characteristics of the beer. Some are long and thin to display effervescence and clarity, while others are bowl-shaped to highlight aroma and the beer’s foam head. Brew Masters have chosen a particular glass that will showcase the best features of their life’s work. When the beer is poured into the perfect glass, its color, aroma and taste are highlighted to showcase all these nuances. Take a moment to savor these characteristics of your beer: color, aroma and taste. Prost.
Mug: A classic in North America, the Mug and/or dimpled stein is a large mug, with dimples, and a handle. It is convex, with the mouth larger than the base. The glass is thick, so bar owners love it. While the dimples make appreciating the appearance of the beer more difficult, the wide mouth releases the aroma just nicely. The handle prevents the warmth of your hand to also warm the beer keeping it colder longer.
Stein: By far the most ornate beer vessels are the Bavarian steins. These are usually ceramic, earthenware or stoneware, and are intricately decorated with scenes of nature, castles, and villages. They come in a variety of sizes, usually ½ liter, 1liter, or 2 liter – the preferred portions of Bavarian drinkers. While steins do nothing for the appearance of the beer, there is little question that these beautiful pieces of folk art are visually appealing unto themselves.
Stange—Kölsch: A traditional German glass, stange means “stick” and these tall, slender cylinders are used to serve more delicate beers, amplifying malt and hop nuances.
Tulip: The most varied glass in the world of beer. This style of glass has been around a while but only recently has found in a home in the eyes of beer-lovers the world over. It is the ultimate beer-tasting utility glass. The bulbous bottom makes for great drinking, the flared mouth allows for wonderful head formation and aroma release, and while it is short enough to handle the biggest beer styles, it is tall enough to service IPAs and even other complex session beers.
Weizen: The classic German wheat beer glass is tall, narrow and flared at the top. This design accentuates both the hazy appearance of a classic Hefeweizen, but also allows for abundant head formation. They typically hold ½ liter of beer. The one drawback to these glasses is that with so much glass exposed to the atmosphere, the beer warms more quickly than one might like on a hot summer’s day.
Pint & Imperial Pint: These have a similar purpose to the shaker in that they are made for session ales, in this case bitters, milds, porters and stouts. There are a couple of key differences. First, they pour a proper pint and usually have a line indicating where that is on the glass. Second, they have a bit more flourish than the bland shaker. There are basically two variations. The first has a gentle curve covering the upper 2/3 of the glass. The second has a straight slope for the bottom two-thirds, and then a bump near the top, flattening out at the mouth of the glass as an Imperial Pint Glass.
Goblet – Trappist: Bowl glasses with feet and long stems, Trappist glasses work well with the complex abbey ales they are designed to hold. First, they have very wide mouths, which allows the copious foam to develop without getting too thick for proper drinking. These wide mouths allow the complex aromas of abbey ales to fully realize. The deep bowl shows off the liquid well and makes even the murkiest Rochefort look damn fine.
Pilsner: A small, almost straight-sided glass sits on an inch-long stem and foot. The basic footed pilsner has a slightly bulbous bottom and narrower mouth, which makes it better for drinking than for smelling, and places the most emphasis on the appearance. It has a bit more style than some other glasses, so it is best used for pilsners, and decent cream or golden ales.
Snifter: Whether a pure brandy snifter or a variant, these are used most commonly for barley wines, eisbocks and imperial stouts. They are stemmed and footed, bulbous at the bottom and narrowing all the way to the top. Because barley wines often have little head formation, the narrow mouth is fine as far as that goes, but still inhibits aroma a little bit, the tradeoff being the appearance of elegance. Many snifter variants made for beers have wider-than-average mouths for this reason.
Boot: The German custom of drinking from glass boots, Bierstiefel, dates back over 100 years. The German history books credit a Prussian General who made an oath to his troops to drink beer from his boot should they achieve success in storming a town. When the battle was won, the General had a local glassmaker create a boot from glass so as he would not “have to taste his own feet.” Since then, the custom of military soldiers celebrating victories by passing the boot is still celebrated today in many bier gardens in Bavaria and throughout Germany. Today, the custom has been adapted all over the world to celebrate any occasion as the boot is carefully passed around the table with each person taking a drink. The trick is to keep the toe of the boot either to the side or down to avoid the build-up of air which will cause a spray of beer in the drinker’s face who forgets.
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