Posted on February 7, 2012 by Marina

We all love a pint of a refreshing brew.

But how important is glassware? We ran a poll on our Facebook page and it seems that most find it pretty important in completing the experience.

And we would have to agree. Glassware does more than just hold beverages, so it’s important to have the right glass for your beer.

Some beer novices disregard beer glassware as marketing but wouldn’t you agree that you deserve the full while enjoying a beer?  The shape and size of the glass enhance the aromas and flavours in the brew, also enhancing the overall experience.

As soon as the beer hits the glass – the colour, aroma and taste is altered. Your eyes also become drawn to the liquid in the clear glass and your excitement is peeked. This simply results in a more complete experience.

Proper glassware also enhances the beer head. Scientific studies have shown that proper glassware will  impact head development and retention due to the foam created when pouring a beer. Foam preserves the flavour of beer by keeping oxygen away. It also acts as a filter for volatiles for the brew in your glass as compounds evaporate from beer to create its aroma.

Different levels of head retention are desired with different styles of beers which is why ideally different styles of glassware should be used. Here are some examples (thanks to Prud’homme Beer Certification program).

Amber chalice
This is perfect for an ale, whether it’s dark, amber, brown or stout, and showcases the attributes of the beer.

This tall, sloping glass is a traditional German favorite for weissbiers or wheat beers. They have a wide mouth to contain a generous head of foam. When the glass is tipped back, the additional of air increases the amount of pleasant clove or banana aromas that characterize wheat beers. It’s designed to accentuate the aromas and flavours and requires a gentle pour at the beginning and when the beer is 3/4 full, a more direct pour to create thick creamy foam.

Strong beers are well presented in the tulip. The open mouth brings the nose of the beer to life while the round body allows you to warm it up, intensifying  flavours. Tulip glasses trap aromas and maintain a frothy head due to their undulating, tulip-like design. This shape aids in drinkability and elevates the overall tasting experience.

Stemmed Lager
This stemmed glass offers benefits to the drinker – tall and narrow to focus the great aromas at the top and step to keep your hand away from the beer. It’s often used to serve German bockstyle lager beers. These beers are traditionally very malty and the glass presents bock’s sweet aromas while maintaining a nice head of foam.

The snifter glass is most commonly used for brandy. However, it can be a great beer glass for certain types of ale. The short stem invites the drinker to envelop the glass, bringing up the temperature in the beer and creating a  fuller taste.  A sloped top of the glass keeps the foam intact and focuses the aromas.  Very strong beers—over 8 percent alcohol—are best-suited for this type of glassware.

Pub Glass
Great for variety of ales. Ales, like red wines, need glasses with wide open mouths. The abundance of aromas can rise to the top to greet the drinker while the narrow bottom allows the glass to warm up slightly. Also, excellent for a stout.

Dimpled Mug
Full bodied ales are a good choice for this glass. The handle is large enough to get your hand around the glass if you want to warm it up, or you can use the handle if you like it colder. A wide mouth will bring great flavours easily and promote  easy drinking.

While it is tall and narrow, it also has a mouth that presents variety of flavours and aromatics. You could choose to put an amber lager or amber ale as a honey brown and truly savour the great beer.

Footed Glass
Great glass for a typical Canadian ale. Ales have fruity, floral aromas but are refreshing and smooth like lgaer. The aromas are not overly abundant and this glass narrows the focus.

Custom Pilsner Glass
Steam Whistle uses a custom made Pilsner glass, designed for Steam Whistle. There are few types of variations for a Pilsner glass but they all have these characteristics in common:  tall, slender and tapered. The slender glass reveals the colour, the carbonation of the beer, and the broad top helps maintain  beer head. The bottom of the glass also includes ogive (pronounced oh-jeev) which helps to keep the beer cold longer and assists in creating foam while the brew is being poured in.

If you’re interested in browsing through some craft beers to fill up your glassware, Ontario Craft Brewers has a great directory of fantastic brews.