Proper Glassware: A Beer-Lover’s Essential, Stripped-Down, No-Fuss Collection
There is a direct correlation between those who collect and/or have a tendency to hoard beer and those who are obsessed with collecting glassware. While the average beer drinker may have a little collection of event taster glasses, shaker pints stolen from breweries and bars, and perhaps a couple of miscellaneous things like your first Oktoberfest mug from your college days, those bitten with the hoarder bug have gone big with “proper glassware” for all their favorite breweries, beer styles, and the like.
I must admit, that I accidentally fell down this rabbit hole. It started out innocently, really. Glassware at events, glassware sent to me in a beer trade as an extra, glasses you mysteriously find in your purse after a night out. I never sought this out though, it just happened to add up. And now, while I have six shelves in my sardine-can one-bedroom apartment dedicated to glassware, I’ve accepted that it’s time for a downsize.
So what stays and what goes? Everyone has their favorites they’ll keep forever. But a few readers have recently asked about what glass they should be using for which beers – so here’s a quick rundown of a couple of essentials we like to keep at home.
The Shaker Pint We Love to Hate
One of the most ubiquitous vessels used for serving beer is none other than the Shaker Pint. While this is the standard-issue glassware for many drinking establishments, it is also one of the most polarizing. You see, the popularity of the Shaker Pint is largely attributed to the fact that it is 1) Cheap 2) easily stackable. The glass itself was always meant to be used for you know…shaking up a non-beery drink. But over the years it’s become the norm and while it won’t be going away any time soon, you should probably know that it’s NOT the ideal glass in which to enjoy a good brew (that’s a perspective I share with many).
Why do many call for the death of the shaker pint? In a nutshell, its lack of a stem and straight down the sides shape makes it easier for those holding said glass to warm their otherwise cold beer up with their hands. Warm beer can lead to flat beer and generally sad pandas. But then you could also make the argument that you’re probably not drinking your beer fast enough. The Imperial Pint glass or nonic shaped glass popular in British pubs offers a curved bump or notch at the top which many claim not only helps with holding the glass (and preventing beer to go warm too quickly), but a more narrow mouth is also attributed to better head retention. My personal pint glass choice? Willi Bechers. Same functionality pretty much but a little more narrow at the base and all-around sexier shape.
Goblet or Chalice
The goblet, or chalice if you’re feeling extra Game of Thrones-y is another popular glass shape and is often used for Belgian styles such as Quads and Strong Ales. Its wide mouth works well for those wanting to dive on into the aroma and a traditionally-made glass features unique scoring at the bottom to aid with co2 nucleation (see: pretty head retention and bubble action). The verdict: Nice to have, but not a must-have. They’re clunky, too.
I myself, don’t care much for the traditional Pilsner glass. However, if you’re a stickler for tradition, this glass shape is tall, tapered, and has a similar effect to that of a champagne flute; promoting carbonation and maintaining a stiff white head. To be honest though, I’m more likely to pour my pils into a pint glass and call it a day – AKA: many of these glasses are delicate and I have a tendency to break stuff.
A couple people have asked what the difference between a goblet and a snifter is. At the end of the day, if you swirl your beer around in your goblet, you’re very likely to splash all over the place. However, the snifter, originally created for the likes of brandy and cognac, offers a more tapered mouth while still having a wide bowl hence allowing you to sniff out complex aromas. This glass, along with the tulip glass (which we’ll talk about next), rank high on my list of glassware a beer-lover needs in their home. Find a snifter that can hold a reasonable amount of volume and you’ll find yourself reaching for it more often than you think.
The Almighty Tulip. This is my glassware of choice for most of my beer-drinking on my couch endeavors. Some folks will tell you that this curvy piece of stemmed beauty is meant only for higher-gravity beers, but to be honest, it’s an all-around favorite for capturing aromas and enhancing volatiles. I use this glass for everything from a Double IPA to a Flanders Red and everything in between. Not only does it have a unique flared lip to promote nice head retention and release aromas, but it’s body is designed to hold on to those aromas; enhancing your every sip. Feeling fancy? The ever-popular Teku glasses you see around are cut from the same proverbial glass – almost as if a goblet, tulip, and wine glass had a love child together.
So as you decide which old glasses you’ll keep or toss, we hope you’ll keep these five in mind. Because really…how often will you be needing those giant steins and 22-ounce Weizen glasses, anyway?
Have a favorite glass? Tell us in the comments below! And keep in mind, we’re not saying that having a proper glass for every style of beer is necessarily a bad thing…we’re just out of room and know many others are too.