A German wheat beer usually sits in a tall glass that curves from wide mouth to narrow base. A Stella Artois arrives in a stretched funnel with a small foot. And that’s just the beginning. How many different beer glass shapes are there? And what is the right glass to use? If a beer lover says the glass doesn’t matter and it’s OK to drink out of the bottle, there is a thing or two he should know.
Beer glasses became a sure fire staple hit when commercial glass-making met lagers in the late 1800s – the clear brews sparkled in the see-through containers. It didn’t take long after that for breweries to realize that they could put their names on the glasses and give them to bars that served their beers. The bar got glasses for free; the brewers got advertising.
In Belgium, arguably the country with most beer brands in the world, took it to heart – each of the country’s 450 beers has its own glass.
But as in the wine world, some enthusiasts argue that you need the right glass the glass as a way to controlling beer carbonation. Beer glass shape is a function of the carbonation in the beer, the surface area on the bottom of the glass, and the surface finish of the glass itself.
Surface imperfections in the glass supply nucleation sites, a kind of incubator for bubble formation. Next, surface area combined with the height work together to provide the correct combination of geometry for each beer. Carbonation carries the beer’s aromas through the liquid and into the air as bubbles burst at the top.
A Pilsner, with its high carbonation, requires a wide top and thin bottom of a tall funnel shape: Bubbles will dissipate quickly at the top, releasing aroma. For a less-carbonated beer you would want a glass with a fairly large surface area on the bottom to encourage the release of carbon dioxide, and then a large surface area at the top to also allow the consumer to enjoy the aroma.
An interesting study on bear glasses found that the thicker the glass, they discovered, the worse the beer keeps its temperature; a thick, room-temperature glass has more thermal mass pushing heat into the cold beer. Laser etchings at the base of the glass kick up bubbles that carry flavor to the drinker. A large bulge near the top captures aroma.
Modern beer glasses don’t fare well for flavor when funneled through recent beer glass research. The wide mouths of shaker pints, the lack of aroma-capturing curves in Pilsner glasses, and the thick glass of beer steins all hurt the beer more than help.
A surprising suggestion for the beer drinker is to try using a wine glass. Wineglasses are designed to help you get the best out of your wine and will do the same for beer.
Wash your glasses thoroughly and never chill your glass, which changes the temperature of the beer.
By HeyouRelax from Pixabay