Types of Glassware
There are different types of glassware specifically designed for different styles of beer or even specific brands, both for reasons of tradition, and to enhance the flavours, aroma and drinking experience.
Firstly, any clean glass is better than no glass at all! As discussed above, pouring a beer with the right amount of head into a glass makes it look better, taste better (by letting you smell the aromas and by protecting the beer from oxygen), and can also help you feel less full or bloated. So even if you don’t have the perfect glass for the style or brand of beer, by picking any glass at all you’re halfway there! We’ve put some broad guidelines below to give some ideas about which glasses are best for which beers.
A couple of key principles about beer can help in choosing glassware. The first one is to do with the head of the beer, and the size of the rim on the glass. Lighter styles of beer like lagers or pilseners tend to be served in taller, thinner glasses (sometimes these are called pilsener glasses). Partly this is tradition, partly it is because the head formed by lagers or pilseners tends to be more delicate and lasts longer in a glass with a smaller rim (a bit like why champagne is served in very thin and narrow flutes to keep preserve it’s bubbles). Ales and dark beers on the other hand are often served in wider rimmed glasses like pints or mugs, and they tend to form stronger heads.
While it’s not realistic to have a large range of glassware at home or even in some bars or restaurants, having at least a tall, thin glass for lagers and pilseners, and a pint or mug style glass for ales and darker beers is a great start. Some other options to think about:
Some glasses are wider at the bottom with a narrower rim – eg some specialty beers are recommended to be served in snifter glasses like brandy, as being able to swirl the beer around helps release some of the lovely aromas. A similar effect comes from using a tulip glass.
Other glasses are narrower at the bottom and wider at the top – wheat beers are often served in this kind of glass, to promote the thick, creamy heads that wheat beers are known for.
Other glasses are shaped a certain way to do with the temperature the beer is served at or designed to be drunk at. Some have handles or stems to stop the heat from your hand warming the beer up.
For more info on glassware, check out the Beer Advocate website