Brewers take great pride in cleaning their equipment, preparing their brews and packaging them for consumption. Some of their most complex brews contain wild yeasts and fruits, or large amounts of barley or hops, which produce great beers with an abundance of aroma and flavor. Just as a brewer utilizes proper equipment to produce those brews, drinkers require proper glassware to sense the beer’s many properties.
While it may not be absolutely imperative for your everyday brew, the right glass can make drinking great beers feel like an otherworldly experience. The glass being used to enjoy a beer is important in the drinking process because it can accentuate or diminish the flavors or aromas that the brewer meant to be present. Based on the beer style or personal preference, there are a wide range of glasses that can each uniquely affect the beer.
Appearance & Feel
Pouring your brew into your glass should be like shaking someone’s hand. Based on the curvature and design of the glass, that handshake could be delicate or supremely awkward. It could also set the stage for the entire drinking experience, based on the amount of foam and head space left at the top of the glass. To start, the glass should appear attractive, fit in your hand comfortably and show off the beer’s unique color. From there, the design should be slightly curved to allow for flawless head retention throughout the course of the drink.
Proper glassware will also play a part in the vital step of aroma retention. Unlike pint glasses, which are shaped outward, tulips and snifters curve inwards to keep more aromas in the glass. This concentration allows for a wonderful introduction into tasting the beer, while glasses with some head space make it easy to take a big whiff and gather a bouquet of the beer’s central flavors.
A glass’s design also plays a role in the perception of flavor. Glasses shaped outward are made for larger, quicker sips, while glasses shaped inward promote smaller sips that fall directly on the tongue. Shaping the glass inward will enable the drinker to fully experience the aroma of the brew, as well as the nuances of each sip. Luigi Bormioli’s Birrateque set notably designates a different glass for commonly-enjoyed beer styles. Each glass is designed with that unique style in mind, and is crafted around different factors such as carbonation or warming the beer.
As beautiful glassware should elevate your drinking experience, it should be able to withstand around-the-house wear and tear. Some glasses are priced high and break with a small ding, but with breakthroughs in technology there are high quality and affordable options.
Top-notch glasses can provide the best atmosphere for drinking carefully-crafted brews, especially on special occasions. Aside from looking aesthetically pleasing, they are made for specific styles of beer, much like glasses meant for unique types of wine. That intention to accentuate the nuances of particular styles is something American brewers, and drinkers, are beginning to do more and more. Drink up, friends! Even if out of a boring old pint glass.
The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.
Photos: Alexandra Whitney