Now Beer This
Different vessels enhance the taste perception and flavor profiles of our favorite frothy brews.
A wine glass doesn’t change the way a wine tastes but rather alters how you perceive it. That same theory applies to beer.
Charles Bamforth, professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at the University of California, Davis, explains that there are two reasons beer should be served out of a glass: First, for the aroma. Our sense of taste is mostly detected through our sense of smell, so it’s important to get a good whiff in the headspace above the beverage. You can’t do that when drinking straight out of a bottle or can. And second, for the visual appeal. As soon as the beer hits the glass, its color begins to change. Admiring the transformation, as well as the foam, commonly known as the head, is part of the ritual of fully experiencing all that these hoppy beverages have to offer.
And while Bramforth declares that there are only two legitimate reasons why the glass matters, BeerAdvocate.com claims that the shape also impacts head development and retention. The head acts like a net, catching volatiles like hop oils, spices, and other additions, so the ideal head is dependent on the style of beer.
Here, we put together a guide of sorts to common glass shapes, along with the best beers to pour in them. Prepare to go suds crazy.
Design: Tall, thin, lacking any curves, and slightly wider at the mouth. Sizes may vary, but generally it holds a little less than sixteen ounces.
Perfect For: Pilsners and American lagers.
Effect: The slender shape prevents carbonation bubbles from escaping, while the slightly wider mouth retains the head and accentuates taste and smell.
Design: A 19-ounce glass with a ribbed base and a curved bowl, created by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and German glassmaker Spiegelau for maximum IPA enjoyment.
Perfect For: Hoppy IPAs.
Effect: The base boosts surface area and bubbles, and the bulbous design directs hops’ aroma directly to your nostrils. More aroma plus more beer landing on the middle of your tongue means bigger flavor.
GOBLET AND CHALICE
Design: Goblets are designed as a bowl with a wide opening sitting on top of a thick stem. Chalices follow the same concept, but are usually heavier with thicker walls.
Perfect For: Heavy, malty beers like Belgian ales and German bocks.
Effect: Coolness is key—by keeping your grip low on the stem you help maintain a chilly beer. The wide mouth gets rid of carbonation fast, allowing strong abbey brew flavors to shine through, and makes it easy to detect the overall flavor and aroma.
Design: Similar to the pilsner glass, the German weizen vase is long and lean. The design difference is the curvature at the top.
Perfect For: Wheat beers to enhance their low-hop bitterness, high carbonation, and malty sweetness.
Effect: The shape traps the top foam, creating a thick head that complements the aroma and flavor.
Design: A glass whose name describes the shape: a short stem with a bulb-style bowl that curves in toward the top and flares out at the lip.
Perfect For: Hoppy and malty brews, ales, and dry stout varieties.
Effect: The design captures and magnifies volatiles, while also maintaining ample head.
Design: A big, heavy glass—often dimpled—with a handle and a wide mouth that is larger than the base.
Perfect For: Classic pale beers, helles, pilsners, and Oktoberfests.
Effect: The open design frees the aroma and holds lots of volume, the thick glass walls keep the beer cool, the handle keeps your hands from warming it up, and the etched or molded detail creates a dazzling effect when the light shines through it.
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