By Paul Barry | Assistant Buyer: Beer & Spirits
As many of us take to enjoying our occasional beers more at home it is worth taking a look at the glass we are drinking from. Each glass style has unique characteristics that can alter, and enhance, the aromas and flavours of beer.
As I looked in my cupboard recently I realised my collection of beer glass must have doubled in the last year alone with glasses of all shapes and sizes now fighting for space on the shelf. Do I have too many? Perhaps, but then each glass has unique characteristics that can alter the aroma and taste of a beer. The shape of the glass will alter the creation of the head on a beer and also the release of aromas. The visual aspect should not be overlooked either, presenting a good beer in a good glass adds a visual pleasure before you drink. However, with so many different types it can be hard to choose which to use. With that here is a rundown of some of the more popular type and the styles best suited to them.
The most common of glasses now comes in a myriad varieties. In general, the tick walls help keep the beer cool and the wide rim allows aromas to be released easily so, in general, a good all-rounder for ales and lagers.
As the name implies these are great for pilsners or light lagers. These tall thin glasses are designed to showcase the colour and clarity of the beer and the narrow shape helps to maintain the head.
Just as with sparkling wine the long and narrow shape of the glass helps maintain the carbonation while releasing the more volatile aromas. This makes it a great choice for Belgian lambics and darker lagers.
Traditionally used for brandy, snifter glasses are becoming increasing popular for craft beers. The bowl like shape helps trap the volatile aromas of the beer making them great for bigger, bolder Belgian beers along with heavy dark beers like imperial stouts and strong ales. They can also work really well with big hoppy beers like double or triple IPAs.
The curved top of these glasses helps promote good head retention while also trapping aroma in the bowl and focusing then toward the nose. These qualities make it great for big Belgian beers like Quadrupels or strong ales but also great for big bodied hoppy beers like IPA.
These are quickly becoming the go to for the craft beer aficionado. Designed to be a ‘catch all’ glass that can enhance all the flavours and aromas in any style of beer. They certainly enhance the look of your beer and do a great job of enhancing the flavour of bigger bolder beers but perhaps not for lighter ales or lagers.
When it comes down to it the best glass is somewhat subjective and perhaps it’s the one you are holding in your hand. Whatever you drink your beer in this weekend I hope you enjoy it.