The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true! Or is the pellet with the poison in the chalice from the palace?
Court Jester jokes aside, this post is dedicated to the age-old question of choosing the perfect type of glass for your craft beer, and whether or not it does matter. Does the perfect craft beer glass make your brew taste better, or is it just a clever marketing technique?
When I began drinking beer many years ago, I have always wondered if the glass I was using really made that much of a difference, in the same way that we use different glasses for different wines. In short, the answer at the time was no.
I was young and didn’t really understand the complexities of beer, plus I was indulging in mass-produced beer with very little flavor or finesse. As a result, the glass had very little effect on the characteristics of the drink.
Fast forward several years, and things have changed dramatically. Commercial beers feature no longer feature regularly on my wish list, but have been replaced by smaller (although not always tiny) artisanal, craft, homebrews or basically any beer that has been made with some degree of thought for the drinker – at this point, the glass does start to make a difference.
So, what is the perfect glass for craft beer? Let’s have a look at the most popular types of glassware for beer, one by one!
Craft Beer Glasses and Styles
1) American Pints
Let’s start with a glass that will be familiar to almost if not everyone, the American Pint Glass.
This one is pretty basic and will be used in the vast majority of bars and pubs. The American Pint glass is slightly wider at the top and is good for pretty much any beer – it won’t really enhance any flavors but nor will it detract either.
It’s also known as ‘shaker pint’, as it’s he type of glass that fits into shakers.
Perfect for: serious beer connoisseurs would say craft beer should never be poured in these glasses. However, you can definitely use them to enjoy lagers, American ales, pilsners and even IPAs.
2) Imperial or English Pints
The Imperial or English Pint similar to the American Pint although slightly larger – American Pints are usually 473 ml (16 fl oz), whereas Imperial Pints are 568 ml (20 fl oz).
Another distinctive characteristic is the distinct lip at the top, making it easier to pour a perfect head and adding a secondary layer of aroma. This is the type of glass you’ll find in all British and Irish pubs – it’s perfect for most craft beer styles, with the exception perhaps of those with high alcohol content (due to the size of the pour rather than the glass type).
Perfect for: all beer styles.
3) Beer Mugs
This is another trusty beer glass well suited to anything. Beer mugs are a great all-purpose glass, usually made from thicker glass and with an added handle, both of which contribute greatly to keeping your beer colder and for longer.
Some beer mugs are made with dimpled glass – connoisseurs argue this makes it easier to appreciate the color of the beer, whereas others believe it’s yet another marketing ploy.
Another reason beer mugs are great is that they are usually larger than most regular glasses, thus giving you a few more milliliters of pleasure.
Perfect for: lagers, American ales, stouts
Have you ever been to Oktoberfest? If so, you’ve probably had beer in a Stein, a decorated jug made with a variety of materials. Stein is short for steinzeugkrug, a German word meaning stoneware jug – other materials often used to make steins are wood, ceramic, earthenware and sometimes glass.
What differentiates a stein from a regular beer mug? The fact it has a lid. Steins date back to the 15th century, but two centuries later, as the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe, hinged lids were added to prevent flies from getting into the beer.
Perfect for: lagers, American ales, stouts
5) Pilsner Glasses
Let’s move on to unique craft beer glasses, shall we? Let’s start with the Pilsner glass, a tall, slender glass which is slightly wider at the top and carries straight sides.
Pilsner glasses are designed to keep your beer lively, allowing you to admire its color and clarity while maintaining a good head of foam to keep the aromas and flavor locked in. These glasses are usually smaller than regular pints or mugs, usually between 10 and 14 oz in size.
Perfect for: Pilsner glasses are wonderful to enjoy lighter and delicate beers – such as the name suggests, good examples are pilsners, blondes and lagers.
6) Weizen Glass
The Weizen is another tall glass that allows you to admire the colors and clarity of your beer. Af first glance, Weizen glasses shares some characteristics with those for Pilsners, although Weizen glasses will often have some curvatures and are slightly larger.
They are designed to keep a good head of foam, therefore trapping all the wonderful banana and spice aromas that Weizen beers are famous for.
Perfect for: this glass works majestically with all styles of Weizen.
7) Stange Glass
There is nothing fancy looking about this small, thin glass. Stange means ‘rod’ in German, referring to the fact that they’re tall and straight, much like highball glasses.
Stange glasses are the beer equivalent of a champagne flute. The narrow design helps keep the carbonation and subtle aromas, and their small size (usually up to 6.5 oz) encourages drinking the beer just after it’s poured, before it gets cold.
This glass is widely used in Cologne – Kölsch beers, traditional from Cologne, are always enjoyed in tiny Stange glasses. A fun time to visit Cologne (and enjoy plenty of Kölsch) is during Cologne Carnival, taking place every year between February and March.
Perfect for: Kölsch, or delicate, flavored beers such as lambics and gose.
8) Goblets or Chalices
Looking like a large bowl sitting astride a thick stem, goblets and chalices are usually smaller in volume (but not always), due to them being designed for a heavier, stronger type of craft beer.
The wide mouth allows the brew’s full aromas to reach your nose every sip you take, and their wide opening makes it easier to pour the perfect head. You’ll often find these glasses to be highly decorated which also makes them wonderful gifts for your beer-loving friends.
Goblets and chalices are very similar to one another – the main difference is that chalices are usually heavier and thicker, and are sometimes made in materials other than glass.
Perfect for: heavy dark beers like Dubbel, Tripel and Belgian strong ales, to name a few.
9) Tulip Glass
In terms of appearance, the tulip glass is similar to the goblet, albeit with a narrow curved lip and tulip-shaped bowl, as the name suggests.
This type of glass is one of the best to enhance the flavors of craft beer, making it ideal for brews heavy on the malt and hops, such as IPA for example. The curved lip traps the head, the bowl is ideal to admire color and clarity and the stem is just perfect from preventing the beer from getting too warm too quickly!
Perfect for: IPAs, APAs, Belgian style beers, and lambics.
Let’s end this selection of perfect craft beer glasses with the snifter, a glass type normally associated with cognac and brandy.
Snifters kind of look like goblets and chalices, but they are usually shorter and made from thicker glass. The wide bowl traps the beer aromas, making snifters perfect for aromatic beers, including those with a higher alcohol content.
Perfect for: IPAs, Belgian style beers, barleywine ales.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of craft beer glass options, there are many others including specialized IPA, Stout and not forgetting novelty glasses to choose from. Hopefully this list will assist you in appreciating your choice of beer more by putting it in a more suitable container.
That being said, don’t get hung up on the glass and become snobbish about what your beer is served in, after all we still want to have a good time with friends!