Get Your Glass in Order
The Craft Beer Drinker’s Guide to Glassware
You wouldn’t serve dry-aged steak on a paper plate, or park a Ferrari on the street. The same principles apply to beer and glassware — perhaps even more so. The argument in favor of a tulip or a snifter is that certain styles of beer are better suited to different glass shapes, which stabilize foam and entrap beer aroma in varying ways. According to Zach Mack, co-owner of Alphabet City Beer Company in New York City, glassware is an integral part of the experience, one that helps the drinker fully experience each beer’s flavor. That said, even Mack is casual in his approach. “You probably won’t own every type of beer glass,” he says. “Just figure out what works for you.” In that light, these are the shapes to consider at home.
Contribution by Andrew Connor and Jack Seemer.
Best for: India pale ale, brown ale, porter, cider
The pint comes in three forms, the most popular of which is the 20-ounce nonic pint born from Britain, with a notched wall and slightly tapered mouth. Because of its relatively large volume, it’s best paired with drinkable, low-alcohol beers. Though it does a poor job of highlighting aromatic nuances in different beers, pint glasses are cheap, replaceable and easy to hold.
Best for: Stout, barleywine, porter
The snifter is best paired with aromatic beers, such as strong ales, with a high ABV. Its short, deep bowl retains the potent flavor and aroma of these beers, while its short stem means the glass will most likely be held in the palm of one’s hand. This helps to warm the beer and bring out those natural aromas.
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Best for: Belgian ales, wild ales
Like the snifter, the tulip has a wide, portly body, but with a flared opening rather than a closed one. This shape is ideal for promoting a healthy head as well as trapping the volatiles of beer. Many aficionados maintain that if you’re going to have just one glass for beer drinking, this is the one, though it shines best with heady beers.
Best for: Lager, pilsner, bock
Pilsner glasses aren’t just for pilsners; they work with any pale lager. A true pilsner glass is long, thin and formed of straight lines, with a top that’s slightly tapered to retain the head of the beer. Its rail-thin physique is meant to showcase the color and carbonation of the beer.
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Best for: Hefeweizen, witbier
The weizen’s wide mouth and curvaceous body’s purposes are twofold: to properly release the aromas of the beer, and to maintain a thick, fluffy head. It originated in Germany and is the optimal glass for enjoying wheat beers, such as Hefeweizens and Belgian witbiers.
Best for: Double IPA, lambic, saison
A relatively new glass in the beer world, the 10-ounce Teku glass is basically a stemmed version of the tulip with sharper angles. It retains the aroma of beer and promotes a healthy head, but the stem prevents handling of the glass to alter the preferred beer temperature.