Being a bit of a self-confessed glass geek, visiting bars in Belgium bars is generally a feast to the senses. Every beer no matter how obscure normally has its own special receptacle designed to showcase the beer on the eye in correct style and proudly display to the world “I am drinking a (insert beer name here). The nose gets a little treat too, with hoppy aromatic beers given the best chance to focus those lovely smells in deep curvy tulips long before the beer ever passes the lips.
On the bar itself, the glasses are often given pride of place, every available space being used productively to hang glasses here and stack them there all in full view of the paying customer.
Basically saying we value your custom, we respect the beer and the wishes of the brewery and want you to enjoy your choice as the brewer (or Marketeer) intended. There are some exceptions to this last rule, where I think more thought has been put into the glass than what goes in it, but hey. The glass below is not one of those I must stress, De Garre being awesome, the sight of this brimming with white foam is one to behold I assure you.
As to why we rarely follow suit here in the UK, I’m guessing that cost plays a massive part, pilferage too I suspect as it seems hilariously funny to some folk to walk out with that “special beer glass” hidden under your jacket and therefore robbing the next person of the chance, before no doubt lobbing it over a wall or using it to store loose change in at home.
It was for such passionate reasons I was drawn to and really excited about visiting a little beer shop come beer café just a walk away from main city centre of Brussels, BEER MANIA.
Beer Mania is situated on Chaussée de Wavre 174 which is about a 2.5 kilometre walk from the Grande Place. It’s a fair old way especially in 30 degree heat, but you pass some grand architecture on the way including the palace and gardens and at the end of it you get to drink a beautiful beer in perhaps the most stunning glass ever made, that of Mea Culpa.
Both beer and glass were designed by the shops owner, (Tamos I believe, we met and spoke but never passed names) the glass design apparently coming to him in a dream. I’m not sure what came first the glass or the beer to put in it, but both stand up to the test of drinking.
We’d arrived after a long hot tramp in blazing sunshine and the cool shady interior of Beer Mania was like the stereotypical desert mirage, in truth we could have been served cold supermarket in a sweaty clog, but instead we got cool refreshing beer served in superb style..
The only down side of drinking out of Czechoslovakian hand blown crystal glasses is how much they are worth, at around 75 Euros a shot you drink VERY carefully when there are four of these on the table I can assure you. This quote from the website made me laugh.
this is very handsome but very expensive
Yes, Carlos my friend. This is the cruelty of life. You will not find a handsome Maserati at Wal-MartR
As we wandered around the many beer shops and bars Brussels and Bruges has to offer I noticed a few examples of glassware where seemingly looks overrode functionality. There were pointed glasses suspended on coiled springs, curved bottomed glasses sitting on wooden plinths, you name it, they were trying it. The other stand out effort for me though was this one from La Corne.
I loved this glass as it brought out my inner Viking. I could imagine a one-eyed Kirk Douglas swilling ale from something like this as he scoffed at Tony Curtis getting barnacles on his barnacles, the tide rising ever higher and higher (or was that the other way around). Sadly though the beer itself didn’t quite live up to its billing in my opinion, don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, it was fruity, refreshing and all that malarkey, but a beer served in a glass horn needs to be fantastic and it just wasn’t. I did look out for one of the glasses though in the beer stores but they were a little too pricey for my liking at 25 Euros, an expensive novelty.
I didn’t see this one anywhere though, which I’m presuming is the original or more specialised version, for this I may have been tempted, although I can’t imagine having it tucked away at my local for swilling pints from…
What’s you take on branded glasses, for, against, couldn’t give a monkeys?
Got a favourite?