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A Beer Glassware Primer

Those who aren’t true connoisseurs of beer think that beer should be served one of two ways – in the can or in the bottle. If you’re a bit more sophisticated about this favorite alcoholic beverage, you may have graduated to the beer stein or mug or the classic Pilsner glass.

Real beer aficionados know, however, that there is indeed a code of conduct when it comes  to serving beer in its proper container. There is a host of different kinds of beer glassware available and each is designed to accommodate a variety of types of the beverage.

The Beer Advocate, a popular website for beer fans, claims that this vast variety of beerglassware is more than just a marketing ploy for home décor and barware companies. The site points out that scientific studies show that the shape of the glass will greatly impact “head” development and retention, important because the “head” or foam serves as a net for compounds that evaporate from the beer to create its aroma. Because various heads are desired for different types of beer, the difference in glassware makes sense.

Some beers work well when served in a few different kinds of glasses, so the science can get a bit confusing and expensive, but if you center in upon one kind of glass for each of your favorites, you’ll keep the cost down.

Selecting the Proper Glassware

As you peruse the list of beer glassware, you may find that you already have some of these types of glasses as part of your home bar. Many of them are used for other alcoholic beverages, including wine.

Mug or Stein – This might be the glassware you most often associate with beer, but experts say it’s only right for some varieties. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and some even have lids. They hold lots of volume and are usually quite sturdy, so you’ll have them for a long time. Use them for American red, blonde, or brown ale; cream ale; English porter and stout; German pilsener;Irish dry stout; Scottish ale; and Bock.

Pilsner Glass – Also a popular piece of glassware for serving beer, this tall, slender glass is tapered and usually holds about 12 oz. of your favorite brew. Experts say it promotes head retention and showcases the color and clarity of the beer. Use it for American malt liquor;Imperial Pilsner; German pilsener; light lager; low alcohol beers; Vienna lager; or Japanese Rice Lager.

Champagne Flute – Traditional beer drinkers will probably chuckle at the thought of using a champagne glass for their next guzzle of beer. However, this glass showcases the carbonation of the beer and creates an intense upfront aroma. Use it to serve American wild ale; Czech pilsner; Flanders Red Ale; Lambic (fruit); Faro; Schwarzbier; or Weizenbock.

Goblet – You may already have goblets like this, which are often used as water glasses on a formal table. Use it for beer in order to maintain plenty of head. Its large size also accommodates lots of volume and hearty sips.  The ideal types of beer for the goblet include Belgian IPA or Strong Dark Ale; Berliner Weissbier; Dubbel; Quad; or Tripel.

Pint Glass – Another classic, this one comes in 16 or 20 oz. sizes. It accommodates a large head and can be used for dozens of different beer varieties including most ales, porters and stouts; low alcohol beer; and American malt liquor.

Tulip – This delicately-shaped glass is popular in Scotland, where a similar variety is used to serve most Scotch Ales. You can also use it for Belgian pale and dark ales; American wild ale;Flanders red ale; and Belgian IPA.

Weizen Glass – This one is made expressly for wheat beers and is designed to accommodate lots of head, which is common with this variety of beer. It also showcases the beer’s color and enhances the aromas.


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