Which Glass Shows You’ve Got Class?
A Definitive Guide to Which Type Of Glass Goes With Each Beer Style
Kicking back in your umbrella chair on Magazine Street during the Irish Channel Parade or dancing at the Fais Do-Do stage during Jazz Fest while Terrance Simien is wailing on the squeezebox, it’s expected you will enjoy your cold one out of a can, a Solo Cup, or whatever container adds to the convenience of the environment. Cue the Mardi Gras cup you just caught from the Krewe of Thoth on Super Sunday. But when home or at an establishment that prides itself as being a “Beer Venue”, you can step up your game and enjoy your beer to the fullest extent. A large part of maximizing the experience of enjoying a good beer comes from the type of glass it is served in.
Just as wine and scotch are best served in wide bodied glasses to properly aerate and allow the full flavors and aromas come out, so beer should be served in a vessel designed to bring out the best of a particular style. That’s not to say pouring that Belgian Quad you have been saving into your favorite Bulldog pint glass will ruin it. Far from it, as the experience of drinking a beer goes well beyond the pallet. But to fully appreciate what the Brew Masters intended, from enhancing the color to preserving the head, this guide will get you started. All that said, should the need arise, there is nothing wrong with pouring a nice Irish Stout into a handful of Dixie cups to share among friends in front of Tracey’s on St. Patrick’s Day. Happy Drinking!
Ideal for: Ales & Lagers, but used for pretty much anything
A standard in restaurants and bars around the world, the pint glass is the most commonly found glass draft beer will be served in. While it won’t necessarily hurt any beer, it won’t do much to enhance them either. U.S. pint glasses generally hold 16 oz., while the English pint glass, or the Imperial or Nonic glass, holds 20 oz. and flares out at the top. While any and all types of beer will be presented in pint glasses, they are best used with Lagers and Ales.
Ideal for: American, English, German, & Irish beers
Beer Mugs, long considered the quintessential pub glass, are one of the few glasses that are solid enough to make it through even the most vigorous toast without cracking. This makes them a close second behind the pint glass for use in Europe and the United States. The large cylindrical base means you can pour an ample amount into it, while the oft found side wall dimples can enhance the in-glass appearance of the beer. A stout handle and thick walls help to keep your hands from warming up the beer, meaning it will remain at the ideal temperature longer.
Ideal for: German Beers at Oktoberfest & Decorations
Mistaken for a beer mug by novices, Beer Steins have the added feature of a hinged lid that you open and close with your thumb. Fun fact, these lids were added as a deterrent to diseases and unsanitary conditions, which garnered them popularity in 16th century Europe during the bubonic plague. Being one of the more traditional vessels for serving beer, they come in a wide range of materials, ranging from stoneware to pewter, and from horn to wood. Because of this, they are most often thought of as impractical to use on a regular basis, and many consider them souvenirs and decorations. That said, there is nothing quite like being served a beer during Oktoberfest out of a pottery Stein where you open the lid, blow off the foam, and enjoy the traditional experience.
And speaking of Oktoberfest…
Glass Beer Boots
Ideal for: German Beers, Witbiers, Oktoberfest, & Drinking Games
Popular at beer festivals and parties in the United States and Germany, Beer Boots originally came from Bavaria. The legend goes that, in an effort to rally his troops, a Prussian General told them he would use his own boot to drink from if they won an upcoming battle. After winning, in attempt to avoid the nastiness of drinking from a battlefield boot, he commissioned a glass boot to be made. After being employed in Oktoberfest traditions, the boot made its way across the Pond, being brought back by World War II soldiers stationed in Europe.
On the Lighter Side
Ideal for: Blonde Ales, Bocks, Lagers, Pilsners, and Witbiers
As the name suggests, the tall and thin Pilsner glass is designed for drinking lighter beers, specifically Pilsners and blonds. The features of the pilsner glass include high, thin, straight walls which let the drinker appreciate the beers colors and carbonation. The top is slightly wider than the base, which retains head and enhances the aroma.
Ideal for: Delicate beers, such as Altbier, Bocks, Czech Pilsners, Gose, Kölsch, Lambics, and Rauchbier
The stange , or stangen glass, has a similar appearance to a “Tom Collins” glass, but comes in a variety of sizes. Typically reserved for low malt and delicate beers, such as German Kölsch, the stange is designed to help intensify the flavors and aromas.
Ideal for: Dunkelweizen, Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Weizenbock, and Wheat Ales
Similar to the Pilsner glass, Weizen glasses are tall and narrow, but they have a rounding at the center and flair at the top. They are also usually larger than the pilsner glass, and will often hold upwards of ½ a liter. Specifically designed for wheat beers, the curvature at the top traps foam and builds head, which is a vital part of savoring the full flavor and nose that wheat beers are known for.
Goblets & Chalices
Ideal for: Heavy and Dark Beers, like Belgian IPAs, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Dubbel, Tripel, Quad
Coming in a variety of sizes, Goblets are basically a bowl sitting on top of a thick stem. Chalices are similar in shape to goblets, but are generally heavier, with thicker side walls. Both are ideal vessels for serving Belgian ales and German Bocks. The wide lip gives the beer an opportunity to show off its maltiness and helps increase the overall aroma and flavor.
Ideal for: IPA’s & Full Flavor Ambers
A visually distinctive style, the main feature in the design of the IPA glass is to aerate hoppy beer with the base ridges as it concentrates and directs those hoppy aromatics to your nose with the tall, tapered bowl. Many of the higher end IPA glasses are etched on the inside base to help release carbonation and bubbling. This is one of the only style of glass that was designed with a specific beer in mind.
Ideal for: Barleywines, Fruit Beers, Gruits, Lambics, Smoked Porters, Sours, Strong IPAs, & any nose heavy beer
Designed to serve brandy and other nose heavy spirits, the Snifter is the perfect glass to serve beers that are not only known for their full flavor, but for their rich, deep, complex aromas. Similar to a goblet or chalice but with much thinner walls and stem, snifters are ideal for fruit beers, strong IPAs, Barleywines, and Smoked Porters. No bar, public or home, is complete without a set of snifters. They are the best way to get full aromatic impressions, and will assist in gaining the full aroma of your beer as you stick your nose below the rim and take 3 or 4 deep, long sniffs. Because of this, snifters should only be filled ½ to 2/3 of the way up.
Ideal for: Stouts & Porters
The angles of both the base and bowl emphasize the defining characteristics of stouts, namely roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate flavors. The design also helps preserving the head, which allows the drinker to conduct the “bottle cap” test, in which the drinker tests the beer head by floating a bottle cap on it. If it remains suspended on top, it is a sign of a true stout.
Tulip & Thistle Glasses
Ideal for: Barleywine, Belgian IPAs, Belgian Strong Ales, Bière De Garde, Double/Imperial IPA, Flanders, Fruit Lambic, Gueuze, Red Ales, Saison, & Scotch Ales, & Wee Heavy’s
Designed to keep a foam head, the tulip glass helps enhance the hop and malt heavy beers. It does this with its unique, tulip-like bowl, with a rim that flairs out. Similarly, the thistle glass has the same features, but is generally taller with less lip flair. With its name taken from the National Flower of Scotland, thistle glasses are usually saved for Scottish Ales, while the tulip glass is great for strong, aromatic beers. Similar to the snifter, the tulips bulb-like bowl allows you to swirl your beer, aerating it and releasing the