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Raise A Glass!

Posted September 13, 2011 | 1:01 am, by nadine

When entertaining at home, choosing the right beer glass may seem like a daunting task. There are a wide variety of beer glasses on the market. They seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them, like the Pilsner glass, are closely linked with a distinct style. Others, for example the Nonic and Tulip pints, seem to be variations on a theme. The fact is that each of these different shapes is designed to enhance a specific beer’s overall appearance and to accents its particular carbonation level, flavour, aroma, and colour. Serving beer in the right glass can very much affect how its flavour is perceived.

Most beer companies have a branded glass in which they recommend that their brews be served. Some companies have even designed a different glass for each of their brands. Although there are beer drinkers who enjoy collecting glassware, others might find the idea of purchasing an individual glass for each beer to be an unrealistic proposition. A closer look at the selection of beer glasses on the Canadian market will reveal that most of them can be categorized into three basic shapes: narrow, wide and stemmed. Within each of these categories, there is a range of different glasses, some of which were designed with a specific style in mind. In a pinch, however, they are interchangeable. A good starting point in any beer glassware collection, therefore, is to have one glass from each of these three categories. This will allow for a better enjoyment of most brands on the market, without draining the bank account or crowding the cupboards.

The Narrow beer glass

The width of these glasses is designed to show off the golden colour of a pale beer by allowing the light shine through. This can also draw attention to the clarity of a lagered beer or the bubbles in a more effervescent beer. The slender shape concentrates aromas and the narrower rim helps with foam stability to protect delicate beer from oxidizing too quickly. The length and height of these glasses also encourages big sips, as it throws the beer to the back of the throat when tipped.

Ideal for lower alcohol, delicate, well carbonated, refreshing beers

Can be used for:

Amber & Dark Lagers

Blonde ales


Cream Ales

German Wheat Beers

Golden Lagers


The Wide Beer Glass

The wide shape of these glasses is designed to enhance the appreciation of complex flavours and aromas. The wide lip allows the beer’s aromas to reach the nose, when sipping, and distributes the beer across the tongue to maximize the perception of a range of flavours. A larger surface area at the bottom of the glass also helps release carbonation; this is sometimes assisted by an etching at the bottom of the glass that precipitates the formation of bubbles. These will help to carry the beer’s aroma up to the nose.

Ideal for aromatic, less carbonated, session ales

Can be used for:

Amber & Brown Ales

Blonde Ales

Cream Ales

India Pale Ales

Pale Ales / Bitters



Wheat Beers

The Stemmed Beer Glass

Stemmed glasses are commonly used for higher alcohol beers. They typically have a rounded shape, which concentrates the complex aromas in the beer. Again, the wide lip allows the aromas to reach the nose. This rounded shape also provides a wide surface area so that the beer can be warmed up, by cupping the glass. When complex beers are brought up to room temperature, they display a fuller range of flavours and aromas.

Ideal for higher alcohol, full-bodied, sipping beers

Can be used for:

Barley Wines

Belgian Strong Ales



Russian Imperial Stouts

Scotch Ales

Pour it out!

No matter which glass you choose, it is always preferable to pour your beer out of the bottle. This releases the carbonation and helps to avoid ingesting excess carbon dioxide. The bubbles that are formed will then carry the aroma up to the nose; allowing the drinker to better appreciate the full flavour of the beer. As the carbonation is released, it will also form foam over the beer to stop it from oxidizing too quickly. In order to help with foam stability make sure glassware is free from dirt or residual soap. Rinse with water, if necessary.

Publication: TAPS Magazine

Date Published: Fall 2009

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

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