Beer + Perfect Glass = Perfect Beer
Get ready to experience beer like you never tasted with our guide to choosing the perfect beer glass for your favourite Craft Beer. If beer-tasting doesn’t seem quite as strict as tasting fine wine, then think again. Great beer can have all the complexity of fine wine, and to make sure you experience it fully, you need to choose the right glassware. Get it right and you’ll never look back.
It might sound crazy, but an important part of what you taste happens in the nose. And the same is true of beer. It’s important to be able to get your nose into the glass and have a really good sniff. So, it’s time to ditch your drinking horns and who knows what else. The right glassware leaves nothing to chance and can bring a whole new dimension to your tasting.
Extra fizzy beer
You lay have noticed that some glasses feature a series of bumps or engraving in the bottom. This is specially designed to generate head on top of the beer. It’s a process called nucleation, where the rough surface allows more carbon dioxide to come out of solution, creating more bubble. It’s the same thing a when you drop Mentos into a bottle of cola and then stand well back.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Before we start, a word on hygiene. It might seem obvious, but your glass needs to be spotlessly clean, as any detergent, grease or food residue can adversely affect your beer, suppressing the head, or giving you a pint of foam and destroying your beer’s natural fizz. You might also want to give your glass a quick rinse before you pour your beer, but don’t worry too much about drying it.
The ubiquitous pub glass, full-size pints come in two sizes: British Imperial at 568ml (20oz) and US at 473ml (16oz). The more common size in Europe is a 500ml pint – it’s the same shape but a wee bit smaller. Wide-rimmed with a small rounded bump near the top of the glass – to rest your thumb on – not only does it feel good in your hand, but it allows plenty of room for a large, creamy head. It’s also the perfect choice for IPA, Pale Ale, ESB, Brown Ales, Bitter and a whole range of styles. Half-pint glasses also make a great tasting glass for these styles as they’re the perfect size to share a 330ml bottle of beer and leave plenty of room for the head.
The tulip glass takes its name from its shape similar to the eponymous flower. With a bulbous bottom and a cinched-in waistline to conserve aromas and ensure plenty of head, it also has a slight flare at the top to facilitate contact with the lips and let you get your nose in there.
It also features a small foot to hold that prevents the glass from heating up and therefore your beer (although sometimes you want your beer a little warmer. In fact, as a general rule, the darker the beer, the nearer room temperature it should be served.
Tulip glasses are suitable for a range styles, in particular Belgian Ales, Saisons and Stouts.
Made in thick moulded glass, the beer-mug allows you to keep your beer at cooler for longer, thanks in particular to the handle, which helps stop you warming up your beer with your hands. It most commonly available 500ml or 1-pint sizes, although 1 litre steins are not uncommon at Germany’s legendary Oktoberfest. Less common are 250ml half-pint mugs.
It’s a great way to serve your German and Czech Lagers and Pilsners, as well as English and American ales. And you can even put it in the freezer for that extra bit of cool before you serve.
With its long, slender shape Flute glasses are similar to a champagne glasses. Thanks to the narrow rim, which reduces the surface area open to the outside air, it helps to keep the bubbles in your beer for as long as possible. It’s ideal for strongly carbonated beers like Déus Brut des Flandres – the Champagne of Beers, as well as delicate Lambics and Gueuzes.
Robust and week-rounded, the Chalice is a great way to pour your Trappist or Belgian beer. Mounted on a short foot, it looks like a slightly flared cup, which allows it to quickly release the bubbles from the beer creating a generous head and releasing a bunch of aromas in the process. The chalice is ideal for high ABV beers such as Tripels, Quadrupel, and Belgian Strong Ales and Imperial Brown Ales.
Borrowed from the world of wines and spirits, the balloon glass shape closes in on itself in order to capture maximum aroma. Some breweries like Founders have designed custom Balloon glasses without feet specially for their higher alcohol beers which, thanks to their amazing complexity are best served warmer. If your hands warm it up a little, meh! It’s the perfect shape for Barley Wine, Tripel, Quadrupel, Scotch Ale and Imperial Stout – really anything over 10% ABV is fine!
Weizen glasses are generally slender 500ml glasses with a long conical taper which gives similar results to the flute glass. In case the name isn’t a dead giveaway, it was originally designed for Weizens – German Wheat Beers – although it’s a great piece of kit for any kind of light Wheat Beer including American Dark Wheat Ale and American Pale Wheat Ale.
The Teku glass is reckoned by the Craft Beer cognoscenti as THE tasting glass for all beers. It’s a hybrid glass that takes the best features of many glasses, such as the long foot to avoid warming the beer, the tulip-shape for a better approach to the lips, and a wide base that gradually narrows to the top of the glass to concentrate the aromas and created the perfect head. Invented by Teo Musso, the master brewer at Italian brewery Baladin, and designer Kuaska – hence the name TeKu, get it? – this is a must-have for any self-respecting fan of Craft Beer. Plus it’ll let you clear out the other 99 random glasses from your kitchen cupboard.
Check out our full range of glasses here