One of the first things many of us learn when we start drinking craft beer is how important glassware is. “Make sure you’re drinking out of the proper glass!” we’re warned over and over again. As a result, many of us amass mighty collections of glasses (and sometimes earn the ire of partners and roommates in the process). So this week, we’ve asked the Fervent Few about their favorite pieces of glassware, and also raised the controversial question: does glassware even matter, now that so many people are drinking directly out of cans?
Mark Twig: “I had a Cantillon glass; it represented a special weekend in my life. It broke. I cried.”
Andrés Muñoz: “I had a Grand Pilsner glass with my fraternity crest on it. I used to drink everything from there until my ex ‘accidentally’ broke it. Now I drink everything from a 16oz tulip.
I drink beers I'm trying for the first time from a glass whenever possible. I'm starting to bring my own glass when I go to beer bars that pour into plastic cups. If I see them using shaker pints, I will ask for literally any other glass they have available.”
Matt Paonessa: “I drink almost exclusively out of glassware at home and according to my social media, I'm very partial to our Aeronaut Brewing Company bottle-club, etched, stemless Teku. But if I had to choose a second glass, it'd be the St. Feuillien snifter. The former is a bit delicate but the etched bottom makes beers look really pretty. The latter is slightly heavy for a snifter, with a rock-solid stem, so the added weight feels really nice in the hand.”
Chad McCroskey: “My favorite glass is a large (20oz, I think) Willi Becher from Burial, which they released at the beginning of their collaborative Lager series, Ambient Terrain, last year. The series really resonated with me, and taught me a lot about malt character.”
Lana Svitankova: “Glass is always my choice, because, well, aroma and looks in general are an integral part of the experience. My favorite glassware is an IPA glass by Pretentious Glass Co. I got a pair of glasses as a New Year’s gift for my husband. It took two months of work: sending the glasses to a friend in the U.S. and having him bring them to Kiev, but I'm totally happy. Heavy, asymmetric, handmade, snifter-style glasses—what could be better? If we share a 330ml bottle, tulip tasters from Cantillon’s Quintessence are my go-to.”
Tiffany Waldron: “I have so many shapes of beer glasses. My go-to is a standard Spiegelau tulip, one that [has a] logo etched into it. But I find myself more and more often grabbing a red wine glass—I so often prefer smaller pours (of more beers), and find that it’s more appropriate than a full beer glass!”
Dave Riddile: “For utility drinking (beer, water, etc.) I have to go with any of the ~13oz Willi Bechers I have. If I'm feeling fancy, having a short pour, or drinking wine or cider, the Rastal Harmony 35 glass we use for wine in our [The Collective Brewing Project] taproom is a beautiful glass to drink from—I have several at home. Green Bench Brewing Co. pours most of their beverages into these, which had me excited when I was there for Foeder for Thought.”
Wayne Pelletier: “I have all of the shapes, but most of the time I just grab an imperial pint glass for 16oz canned beers, or a basic American pint glass for 12-ouncers.”
Thad Parsons: “Perhaps out of habit from my time at the Crystal City Wine Shop, I reach for a pretty standard wine-tasting glass. Something similar to a Chef & Sommelier Grand Vin.”
Mike: “I have about 1,200 poco grande glasses that are branded with one of my festival’s logos—I use them all of the time.”
Arvo: “Honestly I don’t really give a damn about glassware. Worrying about proper glassware based on style seems a tad too pretentious. It’s really just situational for me. I’ve always been more of a can consumer than bottle drinker, but that developed out of necessity, ’cause my college mini fridge held more beers if they were in cans. Now that there are so many styles in cans available, they’re pretty much all I buy.
If it’s a new beer I haven’t had before, then I try to go with a glass so I can get a full experience before making a judgment call. If it’s a beer I have pretty regularly in my fridge then it’s a can-and-koozie kind of situation.
I could never see myself taking a glass with me anywhere. I’m fine with whatever is at that location of consumption. Worrying too much about the glass that my beer comes in completely takes away from the enjoyment of that beer to me.”
Rob Steuart: “I generally use glassware when at home. My most common glass is a short-stemmed brandy snifter. There are a few others I use, but the brandy snifter is a great little all-rounder, and I don't feel like it's going to break every time I pick it up like some of the Spiegelau beer glasses I have.”
C. Sean West: “I’m a fan of the Rastal Craft Master mostly because of how well it stacks. Pouring out of the bottle or can knocks the CO2 out of solution, which reduces bloating. That being said, I totally dig drinking straight from a tallboy, but I’ll swirl it after a few sips.”
Maia Kazaks: “While I certainly drink beers from the can, I also have lately been reaching for a recently acquired festival glass: a .3L Sahm Munique. It’s nice to hold, captures aromas, controls the head, and is printed in gold with one of my favorite city skylines. My Cantillon goblet is used for special occasions, and sometimes I use my .5L glass tankard for maltier Euro Lagers or classic English beers. Also, I must add that ignorance was bliss when it comes to clean glassware. Now I cringe when I get a beer served in a glass with the telltale signs of clinging carbonation.”
Nick Yoder: “Unfortunately my Olly Olly Willi Becher met its demise last week, joining my tulip glass. That was my favorite glass because it felt like an unpretentious beer-drinking glass that also did the things more pretentious glasses can do. I've got a couple snifters I'll use from time to time, but I'm almost always using stemless wine glasses.
If it's my first time with a beer, I'll pour it into a glass, but anything I've had before just ends up wherever I feel like at the moment.”
Pat Hayes: “I used to take glassware way more seriously. When I was tasting a ton of stuff for retail buying, I had an oversized brandy snifter that I used for everything. Looking back, that was total overkill and pretty pretentious, but I still get it out occasionally for stuff I really want to think deeply about.
Around the house it's usually one of the Willi Bechers or tulips I've managed not to break yet. I drink hazy IPA straight from the can, as nature intended.”
Shane Pearson: “My favorite glass is our [Daredevil Brewing Co.] logo Stange glass. Of course this glass was made for Kölsch, but I use it as a daily drinking glass for just about anything, except nitro beers. The shape of the glass helps with head retention, and makes for a great drinking glass.
We take our glassware pretty seriously at our brewery, and we currently use five different glasses based on style at our taprooms. Stanges for Kölsch, Willi Bechers as general-purpose Lager glasses, Sahm Sinuses for Pilsners, 13oz tulips for high-ABV beers and Belgian styles, and imperial pint glasses as general-purpose ale and nitro-beer glasses. We also have 5oz tulips for our taster pours.
We can all our beers and I get a fair number of other beers in cans or bottles. When I am at home I prefer to pour my beers into a glass to enjoy. If I am not then I have no problem enjoying a beer straight from the can or bottle.”
Alex Marsh: “I discovered this glass years ago at Birch and Barley in DC. I found an article about them on Beer Street Journal. I couldn’t find them online, but I seem to remember tracking down the email address or phone number of the Frenchman that made them. When I got him on the phone, he said he couldn’t sell them online anymore because his wife worked at the FBI—no idea why that mattered. He offered to sell and ship me six glasses for $36. I gave him my credit card over the phone and a week later they showed up.
I mainly use them when I have people over for a bottle share. The white star on the glass is a 4oz pour marker. It’s a nice feature.”
Matt Cummings: “I always prefer drinking out of a glass but as to which glass, it doesn't matter a whole lot to me. There are ones on my shelf I'll reach for first: generally a Rastal Craft Master for almost everything, but that's purely out of enjoyment of the feel and appearance of it. I don't really buy the whole concept of needing certain glassware for certain beer. Suppliers sell and describe glasses based on shape, geometry, surface area warmed by the hand, etc., and while those qualities may hold some merit, I suspect it’s negligible.
As to glass vs. can, always glass if I care about what I'm drinking. Why rob yourself of key sensory components that the brewer worked on crafting? Visual appearance is 100% gone and sense of aroma is going to suffer quite a bit if you drink straight from the can. I'm especially perplexed as to why people will give the can exception to hazy IPA: a beer with the highest magnitude of intended aroma being consumed with a barrier of aluminum between your nose and the liquid. And while a lot of brewers like to say that the haze is just a byproduct of the intended NE IPA profile, I'm pretty certain a lot of them go to great lengths to get that juice looking appealing. Invert or roll the can, decant from yeast, and pour it.”
Tyler W. Plourd: “When I moved into my current living situation this past fall, I realized my glassware game was a bit excessive. Nothing makes you feel more ridiculous than packing a shit ton of beer glasses. But if I hadn't, my roommates would all be drinking out of shaker pints or straight from the can. When I saw one of my roommates drinking a [Tree House Brewing Co.] Julius out of the can I was triggered. It took weeks of sounding like a snob before the tides slowly turned. Beer can be visually enjoyed just like wine and cocktails—you aren't a "snob" for elevating the beverage. While trying to convince shaker-pint and can drinkers that they’ll pull more aromatics and will pick up on different tasting notes using a tulip glass or snifter might get you some funny looks at first, with time, you can change them. Just an hour ago I split a beer with one of my roommates and he goes, "Damn, this looks sooo bitter." Just remember to pick your battles, y'all.”
Michael McAllister: “For mostly sentimental reasons my favorite glass is this 16oz Belgian tulip from the 2018 Denver Rare Beer Tasting. I’m new to working in the industry (after working in another field for nine years), and had the extreme good fortune to go and represent the brewery by pouring at this event. This was my first time really on the other side of the jockey box, and I got to pour my favorite beer to lots of people, including my dad (who went out of the way to attend the festival during his honeymoon). Not wanting to lose track of my glass that day, I stuck a sticker from the brewery on the base and haven’t taken it off since (despite washing the glass every time). It’s been a great glass even for my go-to fridge beers, and makes me smile when I think about working in beer.”
Mat: “I love glassware, and my Spiegelau IPA glasses are probably my favorite. Not only do I use them all the time, but they were given to me as a gift, so I didn't have to pay that hefty price tag. All that love of glassware aside, if I ever see another branded shaker-pint glass in my cabinet again it will be 80 years too soon.”
Do you have a favorite piece of glassware? Do you drink out of the can every time, or are you into the occasional pour? Join the Fervent Few and let us know! We’d love to hang with you on the internet.