Drinking from the bottle may look cool for some, but if you want to enjoy the taste without filling yourself with gas, get used to using glass.
Surely it has happened to you that after having a beer you feel that your stomach is going to explode and it is hard for you to contain the belching. What happens is that to prevent the beer gas from inflating your belly, it is best to serve it in a glass.
That happens because having a more extensive space than the bottle allows for the gas comes out more natural. It also helps the aromas volatilize better, making you perceive them more quickly and know what type of beer you are about to drink.
Through the glass, we can appreciate the different qualities:
- Its appearance: color, turbidity, carbonation and foam are factors that we perceive through the glass. Therefore, opaque glasses or ceramic jugs will not allow us to appreciate these nuances.
- Foam: it is one of the most critical aspects in which glassware participates. The glass, cup or jug must guarantee the correct generation and conservation of the foam since it will retain the olfactory qualities and will cause the alcohol not to evaporate.
- Aroma: the opening of the glass, cup or jug will cause either the aromas of hops or malt to evaporate, or to be retained for longer.
The History of Beer Glassware
Just like there are different types of beers, there are also different types of glasses. Until the end of the Victorian era, most people used to drink beers using pewter tankards, which helped to eliminate the bits of sediment that used to float in the liquid.
Then two different things happened: People began to be better at preparing beers, and modern filtration methods appeared and helped to produce a clearer beer. As more drinking people started noticing the clarity of their pint – they created the contemporary beer glass to be able to see it.
The first beer glass appeared with the establishment of the brewing industry in the 1920s decade. It was a sloping-sided, handle-less pint mug. By 1928, a 10-sided handled pint mug became popular when the Brewers' Society started using it in its “beer is best” advertisement in the 1930s decade.
Then, it was the turn for the “dimple” pint, which appeared around 1938. After the world war, the dimpled beer mug, made of patterned thick glass with some modifications, similar to a hand grenade, replaced the pint mug.
This design changed the way of drinking. The dark, bitter beer now had a different image as an old working-class man's type of drink. In turn, its substitute, amber mild, looked cool in the refracted light of a dimpled drinking glass.
After some time, in the 1940s decade, drinkers wanted a lighter, straighter type of glass. That caused the inevitable decline of the dimpled mug. Then, they created a new kind of beer glass. Its main feature was that it had a bulk about an inch from the top of it.
This feature solved the eternal problem of the straight type of glasses, which would always chip (or nick) near the top rim when people washed them. They named it the Nonik (no nick) glass at that time.
Then we must mention the variation of the Nonik: the “waisted” pint glass. It is basically a Nonik, but with a slightly pulled rim. This one is the classic Guinness/Irish pint glass.
The brewing industry has generally pushed the innovations in different types of beer glasses in general. In the 1960s decade, brewers such as Worthington E and Watneys Red Barrel used different moulds to create a personal, national brand image, giving birth to weirdly shaped glasses as well.
Nowadays, the Nonik glass seems to be disappearing. The tall, narrow, solely slightly tapered thin-walled pint glass is becoming its replacement. However, some beer glass forms are conservative: the “tulip” shrimp lager glass, for example, has been around for over sixty years now.
Types of Beer Glasses
1. Pint (Nonic glass)
The Imperial Pint was adopted as an official measure by the British Parliament in 1824 and incorporated by the English bars around 1960. Nowadays, it is one of the most used glasses to serve any British Ale, Porter or Stout.
Its large mouth provides a good layer of foam and facilitates drinking. Due to its capacity and shape, it is ideal for beers that do not drink very cold or carbonated.
Its inverted cone shape with a widening near the edge allows the formation of creamy foam but has opposite effects on other types. They also enable the glasses to be stacked inside each other without being trapped.
There are two measures: 16 and 20 ounces. This last variety is indicated for beers with abundant foam. It's excellent for drinking Double/imperial IPA, double/imperial stout, India pale ale, brown ale, or porter.
2. Glass jars or mugs
These are sturdy, made of thick glass, smooth or dimpled, for large capacity, and with a handle that prevents the heat of the hand from cooling the beer. They are designed to be able to collide at the time of toasting without breaking.
Depending on the place where we are, they may have different denominations: The “Mass or Maß” jug, which comes from the Bavarian language word that means a measure of 1,069 liters, although it is currently used to name a one-liter beer mug. It is the usual jug in the great beer festivals, like the well-known Oktoberfest in Munich.
The other denomination for glass beer mug in German is Seidel.
In English, we speak of a “Mug” of beer and in England when we ask for a pint we mean a jug of about half a liter (about 568 ml). We can find them in the form of an inverted conical glass or the shape of a smooth jar or with dimples. They are used to drink an English ale (Mild, Bitter) or also a Stout or Scottish Ale.
3. Pilsner glass
They are tall, slender and conical glasses of 12 ounces, smaller than a pint, sometimes in the shape of a trumpet. Their function is to capture the effervescent and golden colors of a Pils beer.
Its slender and conical shape favors crystalline beers and allows foam retention to maintain the flavor and aroma of hops. Highly used for light ones such as American lager, bock, pilsner, or blonde ale.
4. Tube (Stange)
It is a cylindrical, long and narrow German glass that preserves well the adhesion and persistence of the foam. The stange is the ideal glass to serve more delicate beers, as it amplifies the nuances of malt and hops. It is suitable for drinking rye beer, lambic, gueuze, bock, or gose.
Its curved tulip-shaped design favors the capture of the aromatic qualities of beer, while its tight mouth allows the formation of a thick layer of foam. You can use it for drinks with intense, hoppy flavors or with high degrees of alcohol such as Saisons, Scotch ale, Belgian pale ale, Belgian strong ale, double/imperial stout or any drink with intense flavors and high degrees of alcohol.
This type of glass, originally from Germany, is fantastic to serve wheat beers. The glass is narrow at the bottom and slightly wider at the top, which allows us to control the copious foam of the Weizen.
Due to its elongated shape, it quickly catches the aroma and is visually very pleasant. It usually has a capacity of 500ml although in some countries like Belgium it can be 250 ml or 330 ml.
You can use it for drinking wheat beers such as Weizenbock, wheat ale, kristalweizen or dunkelweizen.
Its full rounded bottom surface is designed to increase the heat transfer of the hand, therefore, heats the beer. The upper part narrows inward to enhance and capture volatile elements (aromas). The glass highlights the foam of beers with a substantial body, with more than 8% alcohol.
It is recommended for Belgian beers, imperial stout, barleywines, double Indian pale ale, wheat or fruit beers, or even a bière de Garde.
Often confused with a glass of champagne, this type of glass is designed to retain some of the same properties found in champagne. These include active carbonation, an intense aroma and a visually attractive presentation. It is generally tall, with a long, thin stem, made with thin glass walls.
The long stem allows you to enjoy the beverage without the hands coming into contact with the container and heating of the drinkoccurs. The narrow bowl creates excellent foam retention. It is used to serve fruity and carbonated beers, bière brut, bière de champagne, Vienna lager, lambic, Flanders red ale, la gueuze, Saison, or even for the pilsner.
It is a large, thick and robust base basin cup. This type of glassware creates a dense, thick and attractive foam that retains the intense and robust aromas on the surface; while allowing proper oxygenation.
Its shape allows the formation of foam up to 2 cm above the edge and allows it to slowly lower. Some of these glasses have nuclei at their bottom that retain CO2 and contribute to the formation of foam; its wide mouth allows the drinker to take deep sips.
Perfect for serving Trappist, Abbey, Belgian ales, Belgian IPA, Dubbel, Tripel and Berliner Weisse beers.
10. Oversized Wine Glass
You may find it strange to use a large wine glass for drinking it. However, according to expert brewers, a 22-ounce oversized wine glass is ideal for serving most Belgian Ales, or any beer with complex aromas and flavors.
Much like a cup or chalice, its enlarged structure concentrates the aromas and allows release thereof. It is a good substitute for a tulip glass or a goblet cup. They are usually used in elegant places rather than in bars. They are ideal for Trappist or abbey ones such as Belgian dark ale, Belgian IPA, Saison, Belgian pale ale or American black ale.
11. Hoegaarden glass
It is a bulky and rock-solid glass, with the upper part wider and rounded than the lower part, usually hexagonal.
The walls of the glass are usually thick and together give a feeling of robustness, offering an open glass mouth narrowing down to form a small base with large jewelled facets around.
This glass was initially used to store fruit and honey jellies in the provinces of France and Belgium. When they were not used for these purposes, the farmers used them to drink beer.
It is unique for wheat or white beers. The story states that this glass was designed in a way that allows the container to be discarded with a spanner from the hands of the drinkers at the end of the night.
Typical of the Hoegaarden, which is the one who has popularized this type of glass, and habitual by extension of the Belgian Witbier, it is also usually called Belgian Pint because of its smooth straight slope and small size.
This glass is commonly used to serve styles like Witbier, Lambic and seasonal beers.
It is the glass that should be used to enjoy a Scotch Ale style beer. The crystal is shaped like a thistle flower, which is the national flower of Scotland.
13. Stoneware or Ceramic Jug
It is perfect for hot days to prevent the beer from getting hot. There is a variety of ceramic jug with a metal lid whose origins are from the fourteenth century in central Europe.
They were used to prevent the entry of flies since at that time they could contaminate the beer by existing pests (black plague). Today, it is more decorative and is called Stein (stone in German) although it is not used in Germany (they call it Krug, which is a jug in this language).
This jug is mainly used to serve Vienna, Munich or Bock style lagers.
The Importance of Beer Glasses
Beer, wine and champagne all work the same way: You can't drink it in any glass or cup if you really want to enjoy it. You need unique glassware. And although we may have taken some time to realize it, it seems that things are changing.
Now, we understand beer as a drink full of nuances and textures. Likewise, we also assume that to appreciate it, it is necessary to serve it in a container that enhances its flavor, aroma and body. A glass or jug that allows us to observe it before tasting it, and that makes it possible for the foam to exceed a few centimeters and delight us with its aroma.
The irruption of the Irish Pubs has had a lot to do with this change in mentality. Also, the appearance of master artisans who, in their search for new flavors, have opted for unusual ingredients and processes.
It is also committed to the design of glassware according to the characteristics of each of his creations. And, of course, the appearance of specialized stores in this type of drinks. In them, we can enjoy beers of different intensity, aroma and nationality and, also, do it in the indicated glass or jar.
It is almost a rule not to drink beer directly from the bottle. Why? Because the neck is small and does not release the aromas properly. Additionally, while consumed, the bottle heats up quickly, preventing the foam head, texture, brilliance and color can be appreciated.
The glass in which the beer comes is as important as the drink itself, as it is made to exploit the unique qualities, flavors and properties of each of them. We can say that each style has its glass or even each brand of beer has its own glass design, but why so many different styles? For the following reasons:
- According to its shape, dimensions, and capacity, it will allow us to maximize the organoleptic qualities of beer (smell, taste, color), as well as highlight the foam generated by the beverage when serving it.
- They can reflect national traditions. They are also related to practical aspects of stacking, washing, avoid breakage (like Nonik glasses).
- Serve to prevent heat from the body of the drinker's hand from heating.
- For commercial purposes and to differentiate from the competition.
In general, we could say that high fermentation beers are served in wide-glass glasses to appreciate the aromas (for example, tulips, chalices). While for those with low fermentation, they use thinner and longer glasses that favor effervescence, and the rise of the bubbles (for example, Pilsner glass)
What's your favorite type of glass to drink your homebrew beer from?