Fine beers should not be drunk straight from the bottle. They should always be enjoyed only after being poured into a glass. Glassware choice, as well as appropriate use and care, are important to the overall enjoyment of a fine beer, so here are a few tips:
Cleaning – First of all, make sure your glass is “beer clean”. If it isn’t, you may find that the carbonation dissipates quickly which will cause the beer lose its head prematurely, or even go flat. Worse yet, a glass that has not been appropriately cleaned can alter the taste of your fine brew. Contaminates that can ruin your beer drinking experience are fat or grease based residues such as lipstick residue, fingerprints, and soap or milk residue. At home, the best way to insure your glassware is “beer clean” is to only use them for serving beer, and to wash and dry them in the dishwasher.
Dishwasher detergents tend to leave little to no residue. (Be sure you buy a brand designed to leave dishes free of residue, and doesn’t have any added scents, such as lemon. Also, do not over fill the soap container.) Plus, the heated dry setting sterilizes your glasses. If you do choose to hand wash your glassware, use a mild detergent, and allow the glasses to air dry. Never dry or wipe off your beer glasses with a dishtowel because that can leave behind lint, residue, or odors that are held in the towel fibers.
Glass Styles – There are several different glassware choices for enjoying your beer. They each have advantages and disadvantages that make them more suitable for certain types of beers than others. However, ultimately your choice of glassware comes down to personal preference. Here are the most popular glass choices for beer:
Pilsner Glass – A 12 ounce tapered glass that is tall and slender. Pilsner glasses are good for showing a beer’s color, carbonation level, and for head retention. Pilsner glasses are typically used for lighter beers (such as a Pilsner).
Pint – Probably the most popular of beer glasses because they are cheap to make, easy to store, and easy to drink out of. As the name indicates, most are 16oz. glasses, but there are 20-ounce versions available. This is a great all around beer glass that works well for almost any beer. If you’re only going to use one type of glass, a pint should be the one.
Mug or Stein – Mugs come in many sizes and shapes. Steins are just mugs (often fancier mugs) with lids. Mugs are sturdy pieces of glassware with handles. Their benefits are they hold a lot of beer, and they’re easy to drink out of.
Weizen Glass – Like a Pilsner glass, a Weizen glass describes what it was intended to be used for. A Weizen glass is for Weizenbier, or wheat beer. A Weizen glass is similar in look to a Pilsner glass without a stem. They come in many sizes, but the half-liter is most common.
Tulip – A tulip glass is a tulip shaped, stemmed piece of glassware. The tulip shape creates big, foamy heads and brings out the aromas of your beer. This glass is a good choice for heavier ales and IPAs.
Goblet – A long stemmed round, bowl-like piece of glassware, which at times can be quite ornate. A goblet with a shorted stem and thicker walls is a chalice. Both offer the ability to take big drinks.
Other Glasssware – There are some choices that aren’t typically considered beer glasses, but are useful nonetheless. Champagne flutes and Tom Collins glasses both work well for lighter brews, and a large wine glass or a brandy snifter can be a great choice for a heavier beer. Many connoisseurs believe is you are doing a beer tasting, the brandy snifter is the best choice.
Pouring Your Beer – Now that you have chosen a clean beer glass of the appropriate style, you need to insure a proper pour. Never serve beer in chilled, or worse yet, frosted glassware. Beer glasses should always be at room temperature prior to use. Start pouring with your glass held at a 45° angle and target the pour to the middle of the glass. As the glass fills, allow the glass to gradually become upright. You want to allow for a nice head of one to one and a half inches, so don’t worry about pouring too fast, or allowing for some space between the bottle and the glass. This will help release the beer’s aromatic qualities, as well as add to visual presentation.