12 Glasses That Will Make Your Beer Taste Even Better
The standard pint glass is wrong for beer! Find the right beer glasses to help you enjoy this complex, historical drink even more.
You’d never consider drinking wine from a glass better suited for water or sipping a cocktail from a vessel that was designed for mixing drinks instead of serving them. But good beer gets subjected to these indignities all the time. That’s right, the classic pint glass is not doing your beer any favors! In fact, the American “shaker” pint was actually designed for mixing cocktails. It only became a standard for beer because it’s easy to wash and stack behind a bar. We found 12 beer glasses for you to try instead.
Still learning what kind of beer you like? Here’s how to drink (and order) a brew.
Nonic or Tulip Pint
Look, if you’re going to drink from a pint glass, at least buy a few that don’t look like clear, breakable versions of a red Solo cup. The Nonic pint (as in “no nick”—the bulge near the top prevents the rim from chipping) is the standard glassware in British pubs. It will work for most standard-strength beers, including most British and American ale styles. Closely related is the tulip pint, a classic for Irish stouts.
Named after a gentleman who designed the glass in Germany shortly after World War II, the Willi Becher is the standard glass for most German lager styles and will work for pretty much any lager or low-strength ale. (Learn the difference between lager and ale.) The slightly inward-curving rim traps aroma and helps with head retention, and the relatively narrow diameter of the glass shows off the brilliant clarity of a good lager.
The standard glass for many standard-strength Belgian beers, this tulip glass (named for the flower it resembles) is uniquely designed to accentuate the sensory characteristics of beer. The narrow neck funnels aroma to your nose, while trapping and maintaining the thick foam head of effervescent Belgian beers. While it’s linked with Belgium, this is a great glass for getting to know any aromatic beer style better (and it looks fancy, too).
Some Belgian beers are so big and strong they need a little more room to stretch out than the tulip glass provides. Goblets allow you to drink hearty Belgian ales like a medieval monk. In Belgium, these are often branded to specific breweries, and they come in a variety of sizes. They work for other strong styles, too, including German bocks. Pair your beer with one of these authentic recipes from around the world.
Speaking of bocks, this strong, malty family of German lagers has its own traditional beer glass: the pokal. This curious glass comes in several variations—classic, stemmed, “updated”—and you’ll likely want the latter, which features a slight in-curve at the top to funnel aroma. Historically, pokals were often quite ornate, though there’s no need to break the bank for a couple of these today.
The humble stange doesn’t look like much as first, but this straight-sided glass is part of a fascinating piece of drinking culture in Köln (Cologne), Germany, where it’s used to serve the city’s namesake style, Kölsch. In the city’s Kölsch bars, a drinker is given a small (approximately half pint) stange of Kölsch when she sits down. When it’s empty, a roaming server will deliver another full stange and make a mark on the drinker’s beer mat. This will continue until the drinker covers her final stange with the mat and the server tallies the marks!
While finding a willing server to recreate this ritual at home could be tricky, you can at least pour your Kölsch into the right glass and pair it with one of our old-world German recipes.
Footed Pilsner Flute
Pilsner isn’t always taken very seriously here in the U.S. That’s a shame, because well-made Pilsner is a beer of refined character. When the style was created in Pilsn (in what is now the Czech Republic) in 1841, locals were amazed by the beer’s pale clarity and crisp taste, both of which are showcased by the tall, slender Pilsner flute developed in Pilsner’s second home, Germany. These glasses are elegant and will help you see your pale lagers as the beautiful liquids they are.
Some strong beers need to be savored more like wine or spirits rather than being consumed in large quantities. Snifters, which are usually associated more with brandy or cognac, are the perfect glasses for strong beers like barleywine, Belgian quadrupel, imperial stout or barrel-aged beer. The bowl shape and narrow lip funnels aroma to the nose, and a smaller size allows these bigger beers to warm slightly, releasing more aroma and flavor compounds. These features also make these excellent all-purpose tasting glasses when you really want to get to know a particular beer or compare samples side by side.
By the way—we found the best craft beer from every state.
Stein or Seidel
Not all beers need to be fussed over, and the classic German stein or seidel is about the least fussy glassware out there. These large mugs hold a lot of beer, and are perfect for downing respectable quantities of lager during an Oktoberfest party. Of course, they work just as well holding your lager of choice any time of year. Bonus points if you and your friends slosh a little beer while clinking these glasses together and yelling “Prost!”
Have you ever seen a server at a restaurant deliver one of those tall, curvy glasses of sunny, hazy wheat beer to another table and felt a pang of envy? Weizen vases are some of the most attractive beer glasses around, and perfectly show off the hazy beauty and appealing foam of German wheat ale styles like Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizen and Weizenbock. These tall glasses are shaped to accommodate the thick layer of mousse-like head on top of these styles, and hold plenty of beer. Leave envy behind and grab some of these glasses for your own kitchen!
IPAs (India Pale Ales) are the most popular family of beers in craft brewing, and their popularity led glassware company Spiegalau to design a special glass just for this hoppy, aromatic style. Designed in collaboration with respected craft brewers, the IPA glass is designed to concentrate hop aroma to the nose, while the rippled bottom section aerates the beer while pouring and drinking. Earn beer geek cred with your IPA-loving friends by having a few of these on hand for your next hangout. (These are the 20 best IPAs you need to try.)
If you want to take beer seriously and appreciate the drink’s complex sensory characteristics, the Teku glass is probably the single best glass to own. The sharp inward taper of the neck focuses aroma, while the wider basin allows for swirling to release those aromas. The lip shows a slight outward curve for comfortable sipping. The bottom of these glasses is etched to provide a nucleation point for the release of carbon dioxide from the beer, which helps maintain the head and release more aroma.
Also? They look classy as all get-out. While these are excellent tasting glasses for any style, they excel with sour beers, Belgian ales, IPAs and other highly aromatic styles.
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