Life beyond the pint: the importance of proper glassware to the beer drinker!

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July 22, 2012 by probuswines

Going into a pub in Ireland and asking for “a beer” will inevitably result in you being handed a full-to-the-brim 568ml pint glass. The majority of the time the beer will have a minuscule or non-existent head and the glass will often be chipped, scarmy, and, frankly, badly thought out.

A “badly thought out” glass I hear you say? No, I’m not mad or an uber-perfectionist – it’s the truth! Good beer deserves to be drank out of good glassware – would you ever consider, for example, buying a sixty quid bottle of champagne and glugging it out of that “World’s Best Dad” mug that hides at the back of the kitchen cupboards of most households across the land? No you bloody wouldn’t.

This is by no means solely an aesthetic thing; sure, you can’t beat the good-looks of a shimmering glass of Weissbier in a tall, elegant Weizen glass, but, believe it or not, glassware can add a hell of a lot more than aesthetics to the beer drinking experience.

We’ve put together a list of four different glasses which really are must-haves for the discerning beer drinker; and don’t worry about breaking the bank to buy them – you’d be surprised at how many household goods stores and supermarkets stock glasses in similar shapes & sizes.

CHALICE/GOBLET

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Well-crafted Belgian ales such as Strong Ales and Abbey Dubbels, Tripels, & Quadrupels just cry out for an equally well-crafted glass. The Chalice/Goblet (the terms are often interchangeable but, technically, a chalice is shorter, squatter, and has thicker walls) is perfect for keeping the thick head of Belgian ales intact for the duration; indeed, sometimes the bottom of the chalice will have scores in it to provide a constant stream of bubbles from the naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the beer which helps to maintain a tight head.

Beers to drink out of a chalice/goblet:

Dubbels, Tripels, Quadrupels, Belgian Strong Ales, Stronger Belgian Golden Ales.

SNIFTER

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Any brandy drinkers out there will be familiar with these little guys – they’re pretty widely available. Snifters excel in the beer world for the same reasons as they do in the brandy/cognac world: their wide bowls and tapered mouths are perfect for capturing the complex aromas of strong ales. Plus, the wide bowl is perfect for swirling & agitating the beer to get a good look at its appearance and to really get the aromas to come out to play.

Beers to drink out of a snifter:  

Double/Imperial India Pale Ales, Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, Belgian Strong Ales, rich & full-bodied Dark Ales Lambics,Gueuzes, Fruit Beers.

TULIP

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A great all-rounder; the body of the glass is bulbous to allow for swirling & agitation (it also makes the beer look great when held up to a light source) while the lip at the top of the glass helps to retain the head of the beer (it also helps to funnel the aromas when you stick your nose in there).

Beers to drink out of a tulip glass: 

India Pale Ales, Pale Ales (anything with significant hop character), Saison, Biere de Garde, Scotch Ales, Lambic, Fruit Beer, Belgian Strong Ales…basically, this glass can help to improve almost any beer that’s out there!)

WEIZEN

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With the growing number of bars offering draught Weissbier such as Erdinger & Paulaner, people are becoming more and more accustomed to these slender, stylish Weizen glasses. The benefits of the glass to wheat beers are numerous, not only does the beer in the glass look great, but the contours help to maintain a stable fluffy head, but they lock in some of that gorgeous fruity banana/clove aroma.

Beers to drink out of a Weizen glass:

Any wheat beer: Hefe, Dunkelweizen, Weizenbock, Kristalweizen.

So, although we’re not telling you to chuck out your pint glasses & mugs (they’re perfect more many English bitters, Red Ales, and Brown Ales) these are four fantastic glasses that you should really try and add to your collection – they’ll all certainly add a lot to your drinking experience (and they’ll make you look pretty fancy in the process!).

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