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Brewing Glassware – What and Why

As a homebrewer, there are always elements of the process that can be improved. A lot of us spend a great deal of time on recipe development, water treatment, oxygenating of wort (and reduction of oxygen exposure for the rest of the process), fermentation, temperature control, sanitation and every other element, constantly improving and trying to get as close to perfection as possible.
Why then, when we’ve gone to all this effort to create the best beer we can and have waited for weeks to taste it, would we not want to serve it in the best way possible? And enjoy it at its best?
The importance of proper glassware is a ‘last piece of the puzzle’ element to your brewing. Although the type of glass you use won’t by any means, ruin your beer, getting it right really can improve your enjoyment. In this week’s Weekly Mash we walk you through some of the glassware that’s available and what it is designed for.
‘For many beer drinkers a pint glass or large tumbler will do the job, assuming the beer isn’t being drunk straight from the bottle (best saved for macro lagers). This is a shame as there are a multitude of glasses out there that have been designed to enhance and improve beers of all different kinds.
These glasses include;
The Tulip
The tulip is a stem glass with a bowl shape at the bottom, tapered in the middle and then a wide lip. The glass is shaped to capture aromatics in the top of the glass, driving aroma to your nose as you drink. The stem means that you don’t need to place your hand on the part of the glass which contains the beer so your beer doesn’t warm too quickly. All of this makes it ideal for drinkable, high aroma ales such as IPA’s, Pale Ales, Saisons and lighter sours.
Tulip glass
Tulip glass
The Weizen Glass
Tall and slender with a bulb towards the lip this glass is designed for effervescent beers with good head retention, such as German wheat beers. The tall, thin shape emphasises the visual effect of wheat beers, showcasing the pale straw to gold colour and hazy yeast character as well as encouraging a large and persistent fluffy, white head. Visually there is very little that can beat a German wheat beer served in a proper Weizen glass.
Weizen glass
Weizen glass
The Snifter
Previously reserved for dark spirits, a large snifter glass is ideal for darker, maltier beers. Hold the bowl in your hands to slowly warm the beer, allowing the aromatics to develop and gradually showcase the full complexity of the beer. The large bowl also allows you to swirl the beer in the glass, releasing volatile aromas. Use for big beers with complex malt bills such as Baltic porters, Russian Imperial Stouts or anything aged in a spirits barrel!
The Dimpled Mug
A sadly declining site throughout authentic British pubs, the dimpled mug is handled like a stein or tankard making it easy to drink from. Their decline seems to have some correlation to the decline of milds and bitters. Let’s hope the craft beer wave picks up these styles and puts some life back into them so we can drink from dimpled mugs again.
Dimpled mug
Classic dimpled mug
The Pint Glass
Though we pointed out that this is somewhat generic the pint glass is not without use. They are sturdy and hold a good amount of beer – easy to grip and a good glass for all styles if you don’t have anything more specific.
The TeKu Rastal
One of the ultimate glasses for beer drinkers, the glass was developed by Italian sensory analysts and manufactured by leading German glassware manufacturers, Rastal. Similar in concept to the tulip glass but the angles are much more dramatic to better capture and drive volatiles towards the drinker. A glass for the serious beer nerd!
The Spiegelau IPA glass
Developed in collaboration with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, this is the hopheads dream glass. A thick, ridged stem with a tapered bulb and laser etching on the inside of the base will help your IPA’s pour with a big, dense head – help them look lively and inviting and drive those juicy hop aromas towards your nose as you drink.
So there you have it, a brief summary of what glassware is available and what it can do for your beers. There are still many people who don’t feel that glassware is all that important but if you are putting in the effort to make great beer, why not serve it at its best too?’
Are you a glass collector? Do you think that glassware plays a part in the beer drinking experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]

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