Kick the Koozie!

Here is one of my pieces from DIG Magazine’s September 25th Beer Issue:

Kick the Koozie!

Despite what you may see on television commercials, beer is meant to be served in a glass and at a proper temperature. In this day and age of aluminum bottles, poptop cans and super cold indicator bars, the idea that beer is best consumed from a glass appears forgotten by many. Pouring your beer into a glass helps release the aroma and allows a head to form, which is carbon dioxide rising to the surface to create a frothy foam.

Experiment by serving the same beer out of multiple styles of glassware. Notice how the head, aroma and flavors change, simply by varying the glass into which it is poured. When out in a restaurant or bar, ask for appropriate glassware if available, and request a room temperature glass. Following these simple guidelines will only enhance your beer drinking experience.

Pint Glass (Tumbler or Nonic)
This is the beer glass everyone knows. It’s a cylindrical, wide-mouthed glass with a slight taper. The 16-ounce U.S. tumbler is what most people are familiar with, though the 20-ounce imperial, or Nonic, is also a standard. The imperial version typically features a bulge near the top, which is helpful for gripping the glass, and it accommodates beers with larger heads. This type of glass is appropriate for most American and English beer styles. The benefit of this glass is simple: they stack easily, thus are the most commonly used beer vessel.

Mug or Stein
Mugs are heavy and sturdy, featuring a handle, making it easy to clink together with confidence. Mugs are made of glass, while steins are ceramic and often feature a lid. Mugs are commonly used for German beers, though they are perfectly acceptable for their American and English counterparts.

Pilsner Glass
Tall and slender, the pilsner glass has a base and generally holds 12 ounces. Used for lagers and pilsners, this glass showcases the color and clarity of those styles, while also helping in head retention. European and American light lagers, German bocks, and even witbiers are typically served in pilsner glasses.

Goblet or Chalice
Goblets, which feature a long stem, and chalices, which are heavy and thick-walled, both feature wide mouths and are designed to allow the beer to maintain a thick head. They generally are etched on the inside bottom, which allows a steady stream of bubbles to flow up and keep the frothy head present from the first sip until the last. Strong Belgian ales, such as dubbels, tripels and quadrupels benefit from being served in a goblet or chalice.

Weizen glass
Bavarian weizen glasses are made to hold a hefty amount of wheat beer. They are tall and thin, often bulging near the top. They help to showcase the color and head of wheat beers, both pale and dark alike. They also help to maintain the banana-like aromas of the style. But forget the lemon or orange garnish, as the citric acid from them will kill the head.

With a bulbous body to capture aroma, the tulip glass is stemmed and flares at the top to support large, foamy heads. Tulips are used for a wide variety of aromatic styles, such as IPAs, saisons, Belgian pales, and even sour beers like lambics and gueuze. Tulips help enhance the aroma, which is one of the main characteristics of those styles.

Traditionally used for brandy, the snifter features a wide body and tapered mouth. The major benefit of a snifter is that it captures the aroma of big beers, and beer can be swirled in them without fear of spills. Used mainly for IPA’s, stouts and barleywines, snifters are also appropriate for strong Belgian ales and sours.

No matter which type of glassware you choose to drink from, it’s important to clean the glasses well, and thoroughly rinse them before pouring your beer. While many people store their beer glasses in a freezer, this is actually a big no-no. A glass that is too cold forms ice crystals that cause foaming problems and makes the beer too cold. Think of beer as you would wine. You’d never serve a fine merlot in a frosted wine glass and at a cold temperature. Similarly, beers should be served chilled or at cellar temperature in a room temperature glass. Contrary to popular belief, beer should never be served at 29 degrees. While most light American lagers are best served at 38 degrees, most other styles should be served no cooler than 45 degrees.



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