Beer deserves better than the shaker pint glass. A bar and taproom staple, 16-ounce shaker glasses are best for mixing drinks. They became the go-to for beer because they’re inexpensive, durable and can be stacked to save space.
“The proportions are terrible,” says Matthew Cummings, owner and founder of Pretentious Glass Co. in Knoxville, Tennessee. “It doesn’t let a beer retain its head. It probably even makes Coca-Cola taste worse.”
Cummings, who also owns a small brewery, Pretentious Beer Co., is an artisanal glass maker. He says he creates thoughtful, ergonomic designs that increase the positive attributes of different beer styles.
“You want a glass that will enhance, not dull, a beer,” he says.
Glasses with the proper circumference at the top allow aromas to escape and help stouts taste more roasty, IPAs more hoppy and Hefeweizens more wheaty. Glasses that are too thick can retain heat and stunt the beer’s flavors. Poor-quality glassware can hold stains and make a beer appear discolored.
A thin yet durable goblet with a stem to prevent heat transfer is a solid, everyday option for nearly every style of beer. Fusion Air Short Stem Taste Glasses are used for all blind tastings at Wine Enthusiast, including those for beer.
Glassware should always be clean. A cold water rinse inside the glass to remove any dust or residue should be a common practice. If carbonation sticks to the inside of a glass, anything from soap or hard water spots to food residue may cling to the surface. A non-petroleum-based soap helps prevent buildup.
Over the centuries, different glassware emerged alongside the creation, popularity or development of particular beer styles. In some cases, it helps presentation. In others, it benefits aromas.
“You want a glass that will enhance, not dull, a beer.” —Matthew Cummings, Pretentious Glass Co.
Regardless of the glassware, it’s important to keep some space between the beer and the top of the glass. This helps build and deliver all-important aromatics.
Beer drinking is a personal experience. Cummings says that whether it’s the fanciest crystal or an old jelly jar, if it feels good, does its job and evokes a happy feeling in the hand, then it’s the right glass for the job.
Here are some to consider for your next pour.
The official glass of Kölsch, this long, thin cylinder helps concentrate carbonation like a Champagne flute. Often delicate, they’re immediately recognizable on a bar full of clunkier glassware.
A pint glass with a Ph.D, this glass has a traditional look and solid feel, with some chic curves and a tapered design that helps beers retain their head. Sleek and appealing, breweries that use these glasses pay attention to the important details.
Proper pours of Pilsner or lager, especially European versions, benefit from a heavy-bottomed, thick-handled, dimpled mug like a Praha. Often designed to hold upward of 20 ounces, this wide-mouth behemoth brings heft to often light-tasting beers. It makes a satisfying clink when tapped with another at the bottom, and a resounding thud when placed back on the bar.
Immediately recognizable, wheat glasses have a small base that opens up into a bulb with a moderately narrow mouth. A staple of Bavarian wheat beers like hefeweizen and weizenbock, these concentrate carbonation at the bottom, push aromas into the bulb and allow a proper head to build. The rims of these glasses are often adorned with a citrus wedge.
A relatively new glass shape, this elegant, stemmed affair has an angular bowl and curved lip. Its engaging design brings an air of sophistication to beer, which makes it ideal for saisons, oenobiers and everyday drinking.
Another relatively new option, this resembles a stemless red wine glass. The wide bottom and tapered top help concentrate aromas. It’s popular for stouts, porters, barleywines and other rich, robust beers where a little warming can release additional flavors.