By Frank Hamilton
What are the different types of beer glasses?
Looking back on my first days buying beer at the local tap I remember the bartender handing me a beer in a bottle, can, or pint glass. Oh, how times have changed! The next evolution in beer service was when beer arrived in a special glass emblazoned with the logo of the beer contained within. While most branded glasses were pint glasses, the occasional curvier glass, like the Stella beer Chalice, came our way.
These days a variety of glassware can be found, especially flying the colors of a craft beer company. Initially, my question was, do we need a beer glass to match the beer, or is this all marketing?
Beer Glasses: Marketing Or Purpose?
Special beer glasses serve both functions. While you can spot a Stella or Stiegel glass across a bar and instantly know what people are drinking, the unique shape of many beer glasses is designed to showcase the special flavor or aroma of a beer.
While glasses can enhance its visual presentation, it also affects what happens when the beer is poured into the glass, specifically how the head forms on the beer. The beer foam can affect how the beer smells to the drinker. And how the beer smells can affect the taste. So not only does the glass choice add to the aesthetics, but it can also affect the aroma, flavor, and drinking experience.
Types of Beer Glasses
The American pint, also known as a shaker glass, holds 16 ounces with a narrow bottom and wider top. This is the most common beer glass. The design allows a generous amount of aroma release and the thick glass makes it sturdy and helps keep the beer colder. This beer glass works for many beers, including:
- American ales
Boot Beer Glass
At first blush, I assumed the boot beer glass (also known as beer boots) would have its origins in the American West, in the touristy cowboy bars. But I was wrong. The beer boot originates from Bavarian culture. The boot beer glass has a few origin stories, the two most popular originating on the battlefield. Both stories begin with a German general attempting to rally or inspire his troops by stating he would drink beer from his boot if they won the upcoming battle. Whether it was the promise of watching a general drink from his nasty old boot or other fortunes smiling down on the troops, the General’s army won the battle. The story takes two tacts at this point. One story says the general indeed quaffed an ale from his smelly boot and then, later, a glass beer boot was created to memorialize the event. The other story says the general, faced with the prospect of drinking out of his boot, had a glass boot made from which to drink as a symbolic gesture. Either way, the boot beer glass originated in Germany and made its way to America with GIs returning from WWII. This type of glass is often seen at Oktoberfest celebrations and is ideal for an assortment of German beers, including:
- Oktoberfest beer
Chalices & Goblets
Goblets and chalices are wide, bulbous glasses sitting on top of a thick stem attached to a flat, wider base. The difference between a goblet and a chalice comes down to size. Goblets hold a specific amount of beer (approximately 13 oz), while chalices can be found in many sizes. Chalices also tend to be made of thicker glass. The wide opening allows the drinker to better understand a beer’s flavor profile by presenting more of the aroma. Chalices and Goblets tend to work well with malty, heavy beers like:
- Belgian Ales
- German Bocks
The English Pint glass is similar in shape to the American Pint glass with a narrow bottom and a wider top. The English pint glass differs in that it holds 20 oz of beer, has a lip around the rim of the glass, and sometimes has a slight bulge near the top of the glass. This glass might be found holding:
The flute style of glass is most often associated with Champagne. The Flute design, long and narrow, encourages carbonation in the liquid to linger, facilitating a stronger aroma. In addition to being good for Champagne bubbles, the shape also lends itself well to certain beers, including:
- Fruit beers
- Belgian Lambics
- Bier de Champagne
If you’ve spent time wandering the beer aisle you may have noticed India Pale Ales (IPA) dominate the landscape these days. Whether you love them or hate them, they are the most popular craft beer in American according to craftbeer.com. So it makes sense they have a glass. IPA glasses combine the tall slender bowl of a flute to release aromatics, with a ridged, wider hollow stem to promote aeration, and an etched bottom to increase carbonation release causing rising bubbles. IPA glasses are great for holding, you guessed it:
While most of the beer glasses discussed have a unique shape designed to highlight flavors and noses, the only unifying feature found on beer mugs is the handle. Mugs are found in all shapes and sizes. Often made from thick glass, sometimes dimpled, the handle is what sets mugs apart. The handle itself serves a dual purpose, providing a handy way to hold the beer and to help regulate the temperature. The handle keeps a user’s warm hand from affecting the beer temperature. Thicker walled mugs also help insulate the beer. Mugs are commonly found in Pubs holding:
- American Beers
- English Beers
- German Beers
- Irish Beers
photo by isforinsects
Pilsner glasses are also designed to accentuate the best qualities of a very popular beer. They tend to be tall and slender, widening at the mouth a bit. This design helps maintain the head, keeping the aroma localized under the user’s nose. Usually found in 12 or 14-ounce sizes, these glasses hold less than a pint glass but visually accentuate the Pilsner’s bubbles and color. It shouldn’t be shocking these glasses are usually used with:
This is a two-part article. The next installment will cover glasses of the Tulip, Thistle, Stout, Weizen, Stange, Teku Stemmed, Stein, and snifter varieties. Until then, open some cold beers with your GrabOpener and experiment with how glass shape affects beer presentation.