August 5, 2009

Beer Glassware

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Boston. My 4 days there included a bar crawl, sight seeing, shopping, celebrating my birthday and - to top it all off - seeing Coldplay in concert. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

I stayed at friends of a friend's place the first two nights (then it was hotels). These two were as passionate about beer as I am, which led to some great conversation about beers, brewing and proper glassware. I'd never given much thought to the type of glass I used to drink a beer out of (and, until recently, would even just drink right out of the bottle).

Turns out it's not just a marketing ploy (as so much is these days. And I'm saying that as someone who makes a living from marketing!). There are real reasons that different glasses should be used for different beers. It doesn't just make the beer look prettier, it really can have an effect on the taste.

There are 6 main types of glasses that a beer enthusiast will want to own (I just ordered mine online).

Pint glass
(for some fun, go to Type in "pint glass" and click on images. What??)
If you've ever had a beer on tap at a bar, you've likely had it in a pint glass. These are good, basic glasses and popular in bars because of their durability. The British-style pint glass, which is bulged near the top, is good for pale ales, bitter, stouts.

Pilsner glass
The pilsner glass is tall, slender and cylindrical. The shape of the glass helps focus the hop aroma, while helping the beer maintain its head. This is a great glass for lagers, including pilsners (obviously, given the name), maibocks, and dopplebocks.

Weizen glass
This is the perfect glass or enjoying weizen (wheat) beers. It's tall, with a slightly bowed-out shape and narrower top. These attributes help concentrate the aromas of this type of beer, while also allowing for enough room to accomodate the big heads associated with these types of beer.

Goblets (or Chalice)
There is a technical difference between a goblet and chalice; a goblet is thinner and long-stemmed, while a chalice is heavier and thick-walled. However, they're in the same family and both are great for heavier, malty beers (dubbel, tripel, quadrupel, Belgian IPAs) where the hop aroma doesn't play as important a role in the taste of the beer. The bowl on these glasses should be big enough to hold the entire beer, and are designed to hold the head.

The design of this glass - tulip-shaped, with the top of the glass pushing out to form a "lip" and a bulbous body - is perfect for more aromatic beers such as strong ales, imperial IPAs, and imperial stouts.

Clink with confidence with a mug! Mugs are sturdy, heavy, and come with a handle. They typically hold a lot of beer. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The large, open mouth allows for the release of the floral herbal bouquet, while also maximizing the malty aroma of the beer.

Now, I realize that not everyone is going to run out and buy a set of these different types of glasses. But the next time you're out at your favorite watering hole, pay attention to the type of glass your drink is served in. It really does make a difference!


  1. Love this! I thought it was a marketing ploy too - us marketers are so cynical. (Though I will still get excited if I am handed a pretty chalice or tulip with my brew)

  2. Thanks! I love getting served my beer in a nice glass, too.

  3. Randy Mosher's book Tasting Beer has a good section on glassware. He's not a fan of the plain ol' pint glass. A friend brought me one of those fancy Sam Adams tasting glasses and I'm considering picking up a few more. They seem to be a good combo of a pint glass and a tulip. The latter seems kind of hard to locate.