The world of beer harbours an unexpected but essential factor that can elevate the flavour experience to an even higher level – the beer glass. After all, think about it: your favourite beer, brewed with care and craftsmanship, naturally deserves a special podium to reveal its rich aromas and flavours. We will explain exactly which glass to use for which beer.
Why should each beer have its own glass?
Why should you serve your beer in a special glass and not just drink it straight from the bottle or can? Ultimately, it’s all about getting the best flavours and aromas on your palate! Just imagine, would serving a fancy gourmet dish on a paper plate have the same effect as presenting it on a fine china plate? Precisely! A beer glass should be the perfect stage for your favourite brew to unleash its full potential. A proper glass will take your beer experience to a higher level, from its presentation to literally enhancing its aromas and flavours.
What is the role of the design of a beer glass in enhancing the beer experience?
Designing a beer glass is not just some haphazard creativity by a bunch of glassblowers having a good day. Quite to the contrary, the design of the glass plays a crucial role in emphasising the unique characteristics of the different types of beer. A nicely shaped beer glass that has been well designed will bring the beer’s aromas straight to your nose, warm up your beer a little for you, which is especially useful for heavier beers, or provide a good head.
Science and beer glasses
So, okay, getting the beer in the right glass is important. And did you know that scientists have looked into this subject? In fact, it turns out that there’s really method in the “madness” of choosing the correct beer glass. Scientists have discovered that the shape and material of a glass can affect carbonation (the volume of bubbles or carbon dioxide in the beer), heat transfer, and even the way bubbles flow into the beer. In other words, the various beer glass shapes and sizes were not just randomly conjured out of a hat. No, they were really thought through. When you look at a glass and tip it towards the light, you now know that people in white coats worked out how to bring out the best in your beer.
How does the rim of a beer glass have an effect?
You can consider the rim of a glass as the beer world’s red carpet. It determines how your beer passes into your mouth and how it blends with your taste buds. While a delicate, thin rim ensures smooth access to the ensuing flavour explosion, a thicker rim will act a bit like a doorstopper, giving you less elegant access.
Let’s take a look at the ‘thick rim dilemma’. Imagine drinking a heavy, dark beer. A superbly complex beer packed with rich flavours and gorgeous aromas. You serve this beer in a glass with a thick rim and start drinking. When the beer meets your lips, it hits the thick rim and sloshes into your mouth. The thick rim will overwhelm your taste buds and may even mask some of the beer’s complexity. You won’t experience the beer fully, it’s too much at once. This is quite different from thin-rimmed glasses. That thin rim makes your body think: “Beware! You may cut your tongue or lips on that sharp glass!”. This puts all your senses on edge, including your taste buds, making your experience of the complex beer even more intense.
That’s why you best drink complex beers from thin-rimmed glasses. It allows you to better control how much beer enters your mouth. As for lighter beers, taking a big sip each time can be quite nice. In that case, a thick rim is not a problem but an advantage.
What are the benefits of choosing the right glass for different beer styles?
OK, say you have been invited to a glamorous gala event. Would you turn up in your swimwear? Of course not! The same is true with beers. All beers have their own personalities, and the right beer glass will give the final push to make them shine. Whereas lighter beers feel more at home in slimmer glasses, stronger and more complex beers prefer to swirl around in broader bowls. The right glass will allow your beer to flourish into the star that it is!
Each beer its own glass!
Now let’s discuss the specifics of which beer belongs in which glass.
Let’s start with the classic lager; we happen to brew the best lager in Utrecht. This refreshing, crisp beer with subtle hop aromas is most at home in a slim tapered glass, like a tulip glass or flute glass. Its slim shape helps to maintain the release of carbon dioxide and ensures the head lasts longer. Taking a sip, the beer glides smoothly over your tongue and prepares your taste buds for the refreshing flavours to come. In these types of glasses, the beer will reach the back of your mouth, bringing out the fresh, bitter flavour.
IPA, Tripel, Saison, Blonde
IPAs are best served in a tulip-shaped glass. These glasses tend to be a bit thicker at the bottom, often convex, and taper upwards, allowing the aromas to linger nicely at the top of the glass and prepare you for the beautiful flavours to come. This helps the aromas of the Mosaic hops in the Mosaic Magic, for example, come into their own. Tripels, Saison beers, and blonde beers also benefit from tulip glasses for the same reasons as the IPA.
Weizen beer contains a lot of carbon dioxide, and this needs to be given room. For this reason, it is best to use tall, slim glasses for Weizen beers. You’ll often see bubbles forming long strings from the bottom of the glass to the top immediately after pouring. The glass usually rests on a base and then runs from narrow at the bottom to a wide top. Thanks to this broader top, the head will have plenty of room to develop.
When you drink a wheat beer, it will usually be served in a thick ribbed glass. The thickness of the glass, together with the ribs, ensures the beer stays nice and cold. This is because the heat from your hand holding the glass is not directly transferred to the beer.
Kettle sour, lambic, gueuze, and Berliner Weisse. These are all sour beers and all best drunk from a narrow glass. The narrow design helps retain the characteristic aromas of these beers. Furthermore, as with lager, a narrow glass helps retain the carbonation bubbles and the head for longer.
Trappist beers tend to have plenty of aromas, and, of course, you want to be able to smell them! That’s why it is best to drink these beers from chalice glasses. The top of these glasses is open, giving the aromas all the space that they need to flow towards your nose. Plus, having such a large top makes you drink carefully and put your lips together a bit tighter. This causes the beer to get to the front of your mouth, making you taste the sweetness of these beers sooner.
Stouts and Porters
And on the other end of the spectrum, we have rich and complex beers such as stouts and porters. These beers have deep, smoky aromas and a distinct flavour profile that unfolds as you drink. Broad, bowl-shaped glasses are their perfect partners in crime. This glass gives the beer room to breathe and release its complex flavours. It is like revealing a well-kept secret, layer by layer.
Barrel-aged beers often have deep and layered flavour profiles that develop as they warm up and come into contact with oxygen. Tulip-shaped glasses with, preferably, a slender base offer sufficient space to allow this development to happen. Would you like to spend an evening sampling several barrel-aged beers? How about a sampling glass? Additional advantage: You can enjoy a can of barrel-aged beer with someone else, each with your own sampling glass. The sampling glasses in our sampling room and our food bar at Oudegracht are miniature tulip glasses with a slender base. If you want them for yourself, you can order them from our webshop.
When selecting the right glass for a particular type of beer, it is also important to discover your own preferences. Of course, if you have a glass in your cupboard that fits perfectly in your hand or looks really cool, this too can take your beer experience to a higher level. Feel free to experiment with different beers in different glasses and find out what you like best. Here’s a tip: organise a beer tasting with your friends and try not just swapping beers but also drinking the same beer from different glasses. See what it does to the aromas and flavours, and how you experience the beer. Cheers to science, glassware and, of course, beer!