Glassware Conundrum?

Being a “bit” of a glass pedant, I often get asked questions by folk like “what glass do you think best suits this beer?” and such things.

Now I know there are no hard and fast rules, and to some folks, a glass is purely a method of shifting liquid from table to gob with no thoughts of what benefits using a suitable designed receptacle could bring to the party. Some don’t bother with glasses at all, but we won’t mention those…. 😉

Seriously though, if you are interested, there are loads of books out there on beers and beer styles that offer advice with the associated perceived enhancements to expect, or maybe purely just the historical reasons behind why a specific beer glass is the way it is.

You could also do worse than keeping theses two “info-graphics” to hand. Both of the attached articles were published by Jay Brooks over at Brookston Beer Bulletin (a great source of information on this sort of thing and well worth subscribing to), and whilst both, as Jay states, are only guides, they should give you at least a reasonable idea on what to look for.

Hope they are of some use and that Jay doesn’t mind my sharing again.

Cheers

1 “Today’s info graphic is Which Beer Glass Should I Choose?, created for the Central Blog, the blog for Central Restaurant Products’ Foodservice Equipment & Restaurant Supply.”

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2 “Today’s info graphic is a poster of the most common glassware for beer, with a list of styles below each glass that whoever created the poster believes would work best with each one. I’m not sure I agree with every choice, but at least some styles are listed with multiple glassware. That suggests that none of this is written in stone, which we all know, of course’

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Click here to see the poster full size.

Grumpy about glassware…

Yes its true, I am. “My name is Phil and I’m a pedantic glassoholic”, there I’ve said it, I’ve come out, now the world can see me for the miserable sod I truly can be, where beer and beer glasses are concerned. (Some of you will not be surprised, I don’t hide it well)

IMG_8372notobsessiveI’m not ashamed, I’m proud of it. I love my beer and I firmly believe it should be treated with a degree of respect and reverence if brewed to the same exacting standards.

There’s no snobbery in that either, you wouldn’t dream of buying a decent bottle of wine and swilling it from the bottle (unless of course its wrapped in brown paper and you are covered in flies), nor would you grab a bottle of 15-year-old single malt whisky from ‘the special shelf’ and take a slug, leaving your stale saliva dripping down the inside of the bottle..

How many times have you seen the shell suited faithful, wander down the high street swigging from a can of Tennents Super or Special Brew and thought, bloody piss-head? Why does it make it any different because your bottle is an imported super hoppy IPA, or an expensive barrel aged Imperial Stout?

When my good friend Nate, author of Booze, Beats and Bites wrote his “Drinkin’ From The Bottle” post a few days ago, we had a bit of light-hearted banter about it across Twitter and the like. I still think the bottle part is utter bollocks (sorry Nate), but I understand the sentiment was more about just enjoying beer because you want it, and want to drink it without any distractions of mentally pulling it apart, but really, was the glassware cupboard THAT far away?

IMG_8369Don’t get me wrong we’ve all done it when needs must. The inevitable Becks or Stella at a Christmas party, an ice-cold bottle of Bud dripping with condensation whilst enjoying a BBQ, or perhaps a bomber of Punk IPA at a mates because all he has is a chipped tea mug. Then of course, for the infamous “train beer”, sometimes it just has to be done. There will always be exceptions.

You equally may think I too am talking utter bollocks and after all you could well be right, who am I to tell you how to drink YOUR beer, it’s your decision at the end of the day.

What annoys me most though, is the thought that this is all trying to make necking from the bottle a bit “trendy”, the next big thing, for fresher beer bottle is better and all that, it’s just not.

Apart from inevitable the CO2 bloat and accompanying belch-fest, bottles are often dirty unhygienic things on the outside. You have no idea where they have been stored since they left the brewery, stale beer spillage, dust, bacteria, fly shit, rat piss could all lie hidden on that shiny looking bottle in the hidden world of the microbe, how many hands have mauled it too in it’s life in transit. That aside, drinking from the bottle adds nothing apart from the convenience a few seconds saved from grabbing and washing a glass.

IMG_6475For the doubters I say this, go to Belgium and order a bottled beer from the menu in any half decent bar (pretty much most of them).

Watch the bar person grab your bottle and open it…

Watch as they carefully select usually the matching breweries glassware, wipe and or refresh it…

Watch some more as the beer is poured with precision leaving just the last few centimetres in the bottom of the bottle and the glass is carefully set down with the branding set towards you on one of the two beer mats set down in front of you in readiness.

Finally, watch as the bottle is set down on the other empty mat, the label again turned towards your place at the table or bar, it’s your beer, you chose it and the server wants you to enjoy it to the full and as the brewer intended.

Watch all this and tell me that you are not impressed..

For years we’ve lagged behind here in the UK on that front but things are changing and definitely for the better, best use it or lose it and end up with little choice than to keep on chugging..

Mea Culpa

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.

What ever the reason is, it’s a real shame as for me, it makes a massive difference for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, it just says something about passion for the product.

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.

carlos said:

this is very handsome but very expensive

Tam�s said:
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.

A slight hint to the phallic perhaps?

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?

Cheers