Just like with wine, different styles of beer are best suited to specific types of glassware. The shape and size of a glass will allow specific styles of beer to best showcase their aromas, flavours, carbonation, colour and head, allowing you to enjoy the beer at its very best. Let's learn about the most popular styles of glassware and what beers you should drink out of each.
The most common style of glass that you'll see is a pint glass - either 16 oz or 20 oz in size (American & European respectively). These are medium, cylindrical glasses that have a moderately narrow body which open up toward the top. The wider top allows the beer to release the aromatics as well as give room for the head, or "foam" that appears at the top of a beer. These can be used for a wide variety of beer, which is why it's most likely what you'll drink out of at a standard bar or pub. These glasses are cheap to make and easy to drink from, but aren’t ideal for aromatic beers because the aroma will escape from the wide mouth too quickly.
The Pilsner glass actually pre-dates the pint glass! They’re perfect for light, lager-style beers because they show off the colour and carbonation, and also help hold a thick head. The glass is also taller than most, helping to support the carbonation as well, while the wider top allows the aromas to release while maintaining the head.
If you're a craft beer drinker and only going to have one style of glass, the tulip glass is actually your best bet, as they serve all styles quite well. Tulip glasses have a tight opening to help concentrate the head, and their taller lip helps support a decent head. Tulip glasses are an ideal match for double IPAs, saisons, wild and sour ales, and many Belgian-style ales.
Snifters are ideal for big boozy beers like barrel-aged stouts and barleywines as the round, spheric shape helps to concentrate the delicious aromas, while the tighter opening, much like a tulip glass, helps concentrate the head. Additionally, they’re smaller in size which helps moderate the amount per serving, since these styles of beers are usually higher in alcohol content.
Stemmed beer glass
Beer snobs everywhere have fallen in love with this beer glass that resembles a wine glass. The angular, modern design is crafted to best serve aromatic and flavourful beers, and much like a wine glass, aromas are contained and funneled toward the nose, while the stem keeps warm hands off the liquid. Aromatic craft beers will present well in a stemmed beer glass, also known as a Teku.
But what about mugs?
While mugs are a quintessential vessel for drinking beer, making for popular souvenir items when visiting beer-producing countries like Belgium or Germany, and often seen at Oktoberfest celebrations around the world, their shape is not actually ideal for serving beer! But we won’t disagree that they add a certain amount of traditional fun to the beer drinking experience.
Other factors to consider
The cleanliness of a beer glass is just as important, if not more so, than the shape. Residual fat, grease or detergent can kill the foam of a beer, ruining the aromas and the appearance.
How you pour the beer is important too! Pour the beer with vigour, directing the pour to the bottom of the glass. You will get a glass full of foam at first, but that’s ok - don’t rush at it. What happens with this is the liquid will start to drain out of that foam, but the foam will become more stable, so the material in the beer will stick together. Eventually and gradually you will top up the beer with the remaining liquid from the bottom of the bottle or the can, and when you're finished, you’ll end up with a glass of delicious looking liquid with a stable foam on top.
The best glass to drink beer out of, ultimately, is your favourite one. No matter its shape or size, it's the one you like to hold, look at, maybe it even stirs up some good memories for you. And we think beer should always be associated with happiness!