Check out this week’s On Tap column for The Advocate that’s published here.
On Tap: What should you drink your beer out of? Anything but a frozen mug.
One of the most overlooked aspects of beer is how it’s served. Far too many people are content to pop a top and drink their suds straight from the bottle or can. In some cases, this is by necessity. However, if available, you should always pour your beer into a glass of some sort.
The first benefit of using glassware for beer is obvious: You can see what that beer looks like. Like it or not, we drink with our eyes. By viewing the beer in the glass, we can immediately tell some things about it. Is it dark or light? Can you see through it, or is it opaque? Is it a fizzy beer or does it have low carbonation?
The brewer of your beer intended you to drink it out of a glass. Drinking straight from the bottle or can robs you of experiencing the beer’s aroma. Aroma plays a huge part in how we perceive flavor. When drinking from a glass, you get the aroma from every sip, since your nose is on top of the beer as you drink it. That translates to even more flavor.
But in the name of all that is holy, don’t freeze your beer glasses. Pouring your beer in a frosty glass robs that brew of volatile aromatics that make it smell so good. Then, the flavor is muted, and the beer isn’t what the brewer intended. It may be tempting to pour your beer into a frosty mug, but a room temperature beer glass is best.
There are so many types of beer glasses that choosing the proper one may be confusing. Ultimately, I suggest any room temperature glass that you enjoy. That said, here are a few of my favorite beer glass types.
Nonic pint glass
Nonic pint glasses are traditional English-style glasses that generally hold 19.2 ounces, otherwise known as an imperial pint, although smaller versions are also available. These are a variation on the shaker pint glasses, although they have a bulge at the top, allowing for a good grip. These work well for any beer style, and they are stackable, allowing for easy cleanup.
Originally used for drinking brandy and cognac, snifter glasses are perfect for highly aromatic beers like IPAs, big beers like barleywines, or imperial stouts. The shape of the glass helps trap volatile aromatics and allows you to swirl the beer, which intensifies the aroma. These are also good for beers that are sippers.
These stemmed glasses get their name from (you guessed it) their tulip shape. They are somewhat similar in shape to snifters, although the tulip features a flared top which helps aid in head retention. Tulip glasses are perfect for saisons, IPAs and scotch ales.
Willi Becher glass
The Willi Becher glass is a traditional German-style glass, and its versatility is what makes it great. This glass flares out from the bottom, then it curves back inward toward the top. This shape helps trap aromatics, and you can serve any beer style in it from pilsners and bocks to witbiers and IPAs.
The Teku glass has become a recent favorite of many a beer geek, and I can definitely say I’m a fan. This stemmed glass features a tapered conical shape with a lip at the top to help retain a beer’s head. The glass is much thinner than traditional beer glasses, which helps keep your beer colder for longer. I probably use my Teku glasses more than any other, as they work well with any beer style.
If you don’t have a beer specific glass, feel free to pour your beer in an oversized wineglass, such as a merlot glass. The shape is similar to a snifter, but with a longer stem. I’ve recently found a wineglass that is shaped somewhat like a Teku glass, but it holds 16 ounces. It’s become a favorite of mine because it helps enhance the aroma. It also looks really cool.