Great Beer Deserves Great Glassware

10/November/2016
Karl Tessendorf

When it comes to enjoying a great beer there’s one rule that’s probably more important than most – pour it into a glass. I’ll be the first to admit that as a young man growing up on commercial beers, I blurted out the line, “it’s already in a glass” more than once. And yes, while it’s true that a bottle is glass, it’s actually nothing like drinking out of a well-designed beer glass. Now that I’m somewhat older and a little wiser, I’d like to chat about proper beer glassware, and why you, as a suave beer connoisseur, should own some.

Let’s start out with a quick comparison shall we? Do you drink good wine out of a bottle? No of course not. That would just be silly and a waste of good wine. Plus I’m sure you’d get more than a few dirty looks thrown your way in any type of restaurant.

So why do it with good quality beer? The reason you pour beer into a glass has to do with your senses and how you experience the beer. The moment the beer hits the glass your sensory journey begins.

Drink Beer out of a Glass

First you see the colour and head of the beer which gives a visual indication of what to expect. Next you smell the beer which is probably one of the most important factors when tasting anything, be it food or drink. Aroma is a massive factor in our sense of taste, which is why you struggle to taste anything when you have a blocked nose. As the beer pours the head forms and releases flavour compounds like hop oils and fermentation by-products. The carbonation then carries little pops of aroma up the glass and to your nose. A well-formed head also affects the mouthfeel of your beer. Mouthfeel can range from crisp and dry to full-bodied and creamy, depending on the style of beer. All of this adds to the beer drinking experience and who wouldn’t want the best experience every time?

So now that we know why you need to pour beer into a glass let’s chat about glasses. As with many things in life there is a huge range of glasses on offer these days. They vary in shape and size but for the most part they all serve the same function of getting beer into your mouth. From there things get a little deeper as you move into style specific glasses. Tall thin glasses like the pilsner variety showcase clarity, carbonation and aid in head retention. The narrow curved stem and bulbous top of a weiss glass is perfect for channeling aromas up the glass and cradling the fluffy head. India Pale Ale glasses follow a similar design only they’re shorter and made to ramp big hop aromas up the curves and into your snout. One of my favourite glasses to drink out of is a Palm Stem or tulip because of its every beer versatility.

Glassware often ends up being about personal preference but the one universal rule is make sure that it’s clean. Not semi-clean. Clean like your mother would clean it. Or clean enough to confidently hand it over to a girl or guy on a first date without any fear of judgement.

The problem with a dirty glass, besides the fact that it’s dirty, is that it can compromise the beer drinking experience. Bubbles clinging to the side of your glass is surefire sign that your glass was not clean. Grime or oil residue also affects head retention which in turn will affect the mouthfeel of your beer. In short, don’t be lazy. Wash and rinse your glasses thoroughly.

That’s it for this introduction to beer glassware but be sure to look out for the next article as we dive deeper into style specific glasses. We’re going to be looking at Germany’s Rastal beer glass collection, available from Vitria Glass, and learn how this premium glass maker is using award-winning design to change the face of beer glassware.

vitria.co.za | Facebook | Instagramrastal.de