8 December 2015

Does the Glass matter?

As I was opening the first Beer-Vent 2015 beer, my wife was fretting because I was taking too long and she thought it was getting warm. This led to a discussion about proper temperatures for serving beer and the inevitable glassware argument I seem to have with myself. Also, by discussion , I mean I talked until her eyes glazed over and she may have fallen asleep. I have to learn to shut up and drink my beer sometimes. While she was "resting her eyes", I got to thinking, does it really matter what glass I drink my beer from?

"Artistic" upside down beer glass.

As a guy who exclusively drank beer out of the bottle or can for pretty much all of his adult life, I should say no. And if the goal of drinking beer for you, as it was for me, is to get hammered, then you are not incorrect. Vented cans, shot-gunning and trying to crush a whole beer in a single go are all things designed to do one thing : Bypass your taste buds and get the alcohol into your bloodstream as fast as possible.

The truth is that if your goal is to get drunk, it doesn't matter what you do with your beer. When I was at the peak of my binge drinking, I would grab two or three Brava Lights out of the fridge at a time because I could down them so fast that they never got cold. And believe me, Macro beer warm is not something anyone but the worst drunks can stomach.

Classy Red Solo Cup
A strange thing happened the more I explored craft beer. I began to do some research and found everyone whom I respected suggested using the right style of glass for the best results in tasting, detecting aromas and helping to bring out the best in every beer. I was shocked (not really) to learn that novelty glasses and Red Solo Cups are not the best way to enjoy a tasty stout. I do still love the song though.

All of this has led me to be that guy. The guy who actively wants to drink his beer in a way that he gets all the brewer intended me to have when they made their wonderful brews.  The shape and depth of your beer glass helps to bring forth and focus the aromas and flavours. The proper one helps you to understand the often complex and varied notes barley and hops can accomplish. You can enjoy a beer out of any glass, but the right one can make the experience even more amazing.

Tulip Glass with a Saison
I am still in the process of making glass choice an automatic thing. But for now, my go to site for guidance is the wonderful Beer Advocate. This page in particular helps steer me towards what glass is the best for my particular style of beer.

Most of the time I try to find the right glass, sometimes I just go with what feels right.

Nonic Pint with a Marzen
I have a variety of glasses which covers most of my beer needs, although there are variations of style and in the cases of most breweries, their branded glasses usually reflect the style in the best way to consume. Doing a few dishes at the end of the night is not a bad trade off to being able to really get deep into what your beer is bringing to the table.

Snifter with a Stout
Two things that I will stress from personal experience and all the advice I have been given.

One, do not freeze your glasses. beer served from these has a tendency to kill the taste buds and removes the subtle  flavours you might otherwise experience. 
Two, rinse your glasses well after washing and again before you drink. Residue from the soap can interfere with everything about beer. Making it foam up, giving it an odd flavour and causing it to overcarbonate are just three things that could go wrong. Never dry your glasses with a towel, it could leave fibers in the glass that you can't see. Always air dry. Rinsing before drinking makes sure there is no dust or other crap leftover in the glass that could impede the pour.

So I think it is pretty clear that glassware does matter, but if all you have is a clean pint glass and some tasty beers, that will do. I would never pass up a beer because the glass is "wrong". That is not in keeping with the spirit of what beer is supposed to be. bringing us together under the united banner of damn good brews!
Pilsner Glass with a Steam Whistle

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