Believe it or not, beer should be served from a glass, the popularity of Red Solo cups notwithstanding. Fortunately, modern manufacturers are making a variety of glasses designed for specific beer styles. One of the pioneers in promoting dedicated glassware for beer is none other than Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch.
For years, he has understood that to enjoy a beer to its fullest, you need to savor it.
The following types of glassware are typically used to serve craft beer (including the optimal temperature range):
Flute – Best with wild beers or highly carbonated brews. As Champagne has proven, this style of glass enhances effervescence. (46–48°F )
Goblet – Good for higher ABV beers and brews with strong aromas; great at head retention for Tripels and Quads. (50–55°F)
IPA – The first Spiegelau beer glass. After initially refusing to meet with Jim Koch to design the perfect lager vessel, famed glass maker Spiegelau saw the error of its ways and began to seek out some of the nation’s best beer makers to design perfect glasses for their beer. The first in their effort was this IPA glass, which was a collaboration with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. The glass has a narrow, rippled base and a tulip-style top that maximizes head retention and accentuates hops aroma. (45–50°F)
Lager – A thin-walled glass designed to enhance clarity of the beer. The glass tends to be tall, with minimal curvature as it goes up. Best for non-pilsner lager brews.(35–48°F)
Mug (Stein) – The quintessential beer garden vessel; best for large quantities of easy-drinking, low-ABV lager beer. (35–48°F )
Pilsner – A tall, slender, tapered glass ideally suited for clear, effervescent lager beer. (46–48°F)
Pint (Conical) – Common more because it’s cheap and easy to produce rather than because it does much for beer flavor. This is the ubiquitous conical tumbler in which bars across America serve draft beer (as well as many other beverages). A true pint glass holds 16 ounces, but many bars sell “pints” in tumblers that actually hold 12 ounces. (Next time you order a standard 12-ounce bottle, ask for a pint glass and pour in the beer. Unless you’re at a bar that takes its beer very seriously, the “pint” glass will be full.) As Americans become increasingly sophisticated about beer, more and more bars are getting away from this style. (40–55° F)
Pint (Imperial) – A 20-ounce version of the conical pint typically used in Britain. Great with Extra Special Bitters brews. (40–55°F )
Pint (Nonic) – A pint designed for ease of storage and to reduce breakage. The slight bulge at the rim of the glass reduces chips and adds a grip, leading to fewer dropped glasses. Available in both American (16 ounce) and British (imperial) versions. (40–55°F )
Pokal -Slightly more elegant than a pilsner glass and more refined than a pint. This glass is often called the “European Pilsner” glass and is notable for its small stem and large foot. Like the pilsner, it’s designed for light, bubbly lagers. (46–48°F)
Snifter – More familiar as a vessel for cognac or brandy, but often used for high-ABV, aromatic beers that improve as they warm (e.g., Russian Imperial Stout, Barleywine). (50–70°F)
Stange(Slender Cylinder) – Another glass type typically found in Germany. This tall, straight-sided glass is perfect for malt-forward beers, along with some fruit beers. (40–50°F)
Stout – Another collaboration beer glass made by Spiegelau and the brewers at Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales. Its appearance is very similar to the IPA glass, with a narrow, cylindrical base that rises to a smooth, tulip-shaped bulb. (55°F, British Cellar Temperature)
Tulip – A great glass for beers with abundant head retention; often used for double IPAs and Strong Ales. It has a bulbous base with a short stem, similar to a “shortened” wine glass. (50–70°F)
Weizen – Another proprietary glass, this time from the Bavaria region of Germany, where the beer originates. With thin walls and a long flute, the glass showcases the beer’s color and maximizes the good head retention associated with weizen beers. The shape of this glass also perfectly targets the banana-phenol aromas common in this style. (48–54°F)
Wheat – Another Spiegelau entry made with Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewing. The glass has a short, stout stem beneath a voluminous bowl that aims to retain the nuanced aromas of wheat beer. (40–50°F)
Wine – The familiar “red wine” shape. Many retailers are replacing pint glasses with wine glasses, both for presentation and for economy; wine glasses can easily replace goblets, tulips, and even snifters for beer pours. (varies dependingon the more traditional glass it is replacing)
When it comes to pouring beer, you want to consider how much head there should be on a beer. Believe it or not, there are beer-pouring competitions that bring bartenders from around the world together to “pour off” before a panel of judges.
Here are the steps to pouring a perfect beer:
1.) Rinse the glass. Any soap or other residue on the inside of your glass—even if it’s clean—can affect head retention.
2.) Pour at an angle to start. You want the beer to pour smoothly, so limit the distance between the source of your beer and the base of your glass by allowing the beer to flow down the side of the glass; try to do this without touching the edge of the glass with the can, bottle, or tap line.
3.) As you pour, level the glass and move the stream away from the side, keeping in mind how much head you want to retain. Pouring closer to the glass will create less foam than will pouring farther away; always pour to the center of the glass once it is level.
4.) If pouring from a bottle or can, leave about. inch of beer in its bottom. Most beer has sediment; your homebrew certainly will. You don’t want to create cloudy beer from that last bit of brew. This is another reason why pouring into a glass is better than drinking from the bottle or can: Any sediment will remain at the bottom of the container rather than being jostled into the beer from multiple sips.
Read More from DIY Beer
Excerpt from DIY Beer Brewing: Creating Your First Homebrew, by Astrid Cook, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2015 by Callisto Media. All rights reserved.