When it comes to the size and shape of the glass you use when drinking a beverage, does it really make all that much difference? As it happens, it certainly does, especially when it comes to beer.
There’s no use beating around the bush about it—you need to have the right pint glass for the perfect experience of drinking a pint.
It’s not just a matter of beer glasses coming in many different shapes and sizes. It’s actually true that each style of beer is intended to be consumed from a specific type of glass. Moreover, each individual brewery usually creates its own beer glass designed to their own exacting standards for their specific brews.
And if you’re lucky, they’ll come with a nifty logo and the brewer’s name embossed or etched on the glass.
THE IMPERIAL TULIP GLASS
To begin, we’re going to skip right over the most common type of glassware that most Americans will be familiar with, the conical pint glass or “shaker” glass, because it was never intended to be used as a beer-drinking vessel but instead was the second half of a traditional cocktail shaker, hence the name. Instead, we will start with not only the best-known Irish beer—Guinness Stout, of course—but also the most iconic piece of glassware from across the pond: the classic imperial tulip glass.
This 20oz design is intended to allow heavier beers like ales, porters, and stouts, including Guinness, to do its very special thing—slowly allow a silky, creamy foam to rise up from bubbles to form a thin head on top. The wide mouth also gives the Guinness Stout plenty of space to release its wonderful trademark aroma—dark and roasted malts, almost bordering on coffee and chocolate.
It goes without saying that the most classic way to drink your Guinness Stout is in a classic Irish pint glass. But the question then becomes, with how much style do you want to add to the process?
At ShamrockGift.com, you can find sets of pint glasses with the Guinness logo of the Irish harp, and etchings in the glass with a silhouette of the tulip glass.
BELGIAN TULIPS, GOBLETS, & FLUTES
The tulip glass is one of the most widely used styles of beer glass, so its no surprise that different countries have unique versions of the shape. Many beers brewed in Belgium (home to the most different types of beer of any nation on Earth) are meant to be drunk from a smaller style tulip glass, often with a stem. The tulip is meant to trap the aroma of the head within its glass confines and to trap bubbles so as to create a monstrous head on top. The tulip is mostly known for its use in Belgian ales but is also suitable for thick and syrupy Scottish ales.
Two other similar, yet slightly different beer glassware styles prevalent in Belgium are the goblet and the chalice. These are typically filled to the brim with the highly alcoholic, sugary ales that Belgians and their brewing monks are known for. When quaffing a St. Bernardus, Chimay or Trappist Rochefort ale from a chalice or a goblet, you might have the sinking suspicion that you’ve traveled back in time to the medieval days and are about to watch knights in armor clash on horseback.
In the final look at Belgian beer glassware, there’s the flute glass. Yes, this looks much like a champagne flute. But, no, you don’t drink a French champagne out of it (although, technically, you could). Instead, it’s best used for one of Belgian’s many fruit beers, also known as lambics. Since these fruit beers have a very delicate, bubbly and fruity flavor, the flute glass is well-suited to convey their style characteristics. Some of your best known Belgian lambics include Lindemans, Cantillon and Gueuzerie Tilquin.
Germany is known for its love of beer and German tankard is the perfect vessel for a bitter German pils. Think of the honeycomb or dimple-designed giant tankards you might find at a Bavarian beer hall, such as the famous Hofbrauhaus or lesser-known, but equally worthy, Schneider & Sohn and Augustiner Bräustuben beer gardens. All located in Munich, of course.
You can also use a tankard for Guinness Stout and ShamrockGift.com offers a dimple-designed glass tankard, which originated in England, with the Guinness harp logo. They also have a smooth-glassed designed tankard with a pewter Guinness logo. Or even a ceramic tankard with the famous Guinness toucan on it? A set of either would be a fantastic way to share some Guinness with friends.
GERMAN WEIZEN & STANGEN GLASSES
The Bavaria region of Germany is also known for its wheat beers, or weizenbier—sparkling, yet cloudy beers that have tastes of bananas and cloves. Some of the most famous brands of this style, usually called hefe-weizen, include Paulaner, Ayinger and Weihenstephaner. Bavarian wheat beers create huge heads when poured correctly. To achieve the correct pour, it’s highly advisable to use a tall wheat beer glass, which is shaped somewhat like an elongated tulip glass.
A pilsner glass is also widespread in use in Germany, with its slender and tapered conical shape and with a wide base. Pilsner glasses can really be used for any type of beer, although they’re best know for their carriage of the classic German pils brands like Warsteiner, Bitburger, Schultheiss and König Pils. The Czech pils brands (after all, the Czechs invented pilsner) include Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budweiser Budvar (no need to get into a discussion about which Budweiser was the first, the U.S. or the Czech version; the two brewers have been arguing about it for decades and still haven’t reached a verdict.)
In our last trip around Germany, the city of Cologne is known for its own specific beer style, the kölsch. With a dry, biscuit flavor, and very little bitterness, it’s easy to put away several glasses of kölsch before you even realize you’ve had several. The kölsch is traditionally served in beer glassware known as a stangen, a high, narrow and cylindrical glass. This style of beer glassware allows for a truly insane stack of head, sometimes reaching half of the glass, and with a kölsch, that’s necessary. The narrow and cylindrical shape of the stangen glass has its design for a reason. The traditional way to serve a party a round of kölsch is by placing several glasses in a round tray called a kranz. When placed on the table, it can be wheeled around to allow everyone to grab their kölsch.
JUST FOR KICKS: THE BOOT & THE YARD
Resembling something you might find in a glass blower’s artist studio, the yard glass is a very, very tall and very, very narrow sliver of a glass container. It almost certainly requires the use of both hands to consumer the beer contained within, and it’s probably also advisable to find a wooden stand to place it in, otherwise you’ll be holding the thing all night; it doesn’t stand up on its own. The yard glass has its roots in 17th Century England and is typically known to be used for English ales, although its design properties convey no known benefits that are specific to the English ale style. If anything, a yard glass is used at parties and by show-offs who like to consume a glass of beer as quickly as possible to demonstrate their skills.
The other novelty glass to be aware of is the boot, or bierstiefel, which is shaped exactly like what it sounds like. These can come in a range of sizes (though usually one, two, and three liters) and are commonly used for drinking challenges in Germany and Austria.
Boot-shaped vessels have been around for millennia, but the origin of the glass beer boot supposedly begins and ends with a German general who promised to drink beer from his boot if his troops won. They did and he had a glass blower make a replica of his boot to make things a bit cleaner. Ever since the unnamed place and undated time that this occurred, the boot has prevailed in festive competition and hazing rituals. Note: if anyone ever hands you a boot with the toe pointed away from you, they’re trying to trick you—once air gets into the toe, the remainder of the beer will uncontrollably pour out of the boot, drenching the poor drinker. Always drink a boot with the toe pointed towards you.
HOW TO POUR BEER
There are two schools of thought on this somewhat touchy subject. There are those who believe the proper way to pour is slowly and carefully, allowing the liquid to hit the side of the glass and then trickle down to the bottom, all the while pouring as slowly as possible. This prevents the beer from all coming out as a head, or fizz, allowing the consumer to drink the beer as quickly as possible and without waiting for the head to dissipate.
Then there is the school of thought whose members believe that it makes the most sense to pour out the beer with great vigor. The hard-pour school says there are two benefits. One, it releases the very fine aroma that comes with having a large head atop the glass; not to mention the fact that a tall head looks really cool. In addition, an aggressive pour allows much of the carbonation to be released from the bottle and not go straight to your stomach, causing heartburn later. After all, when a carbonated beer sits in a bottle for weeks or months, the carbonation builds up. You don’t want to transfer that gas straight to your gut, do you?
Either way you choose to roll, there’s no bad way to pour or drink a beer. And you can certainly try both techniques to decide which you prefer.
A BEER & A SHOT
Finally, a discussion of beer and beverage glassware wouldn’t be complete without a brief look at the shot glass. Here, it’s the case that size and shape probably don’t matter all that much. But it’s certainly the case that you want to drink your liquor shots in style.
Thus, the Bushmills shot glass is the perfect conveyer of Bushmills Irish whiskey. ShamrockGift.com offers a 3-pack collection with each embossed with a different member of the Bushmills family—Black Bush, the Original and 10-year Single Malt. Shamrockgift.com also has a Bushmills Hi-Ball glass set, and a Bushmills barrel mug. You won’t want to drink your next round of Irish coffee without these mugs!