Welcome to the next entry in our “The Fervent Few Introduces” series. Following up on our introduction to Saisons, this week we asked members to tell us about glassware. Which glasses should beer drinkers use—and why? Why are shaker pints so universally derided, and what are better go-to glassware options? Read on for The Fervent Few’s breakdown (and keep scrolling for members’ top glassware picks).
Patrick Guo: “A proper glass is super important when enjoying a beer. If you drink directly from the can or bottle, you can’t smell the beer. The brewer’s intention of crafting a highly aromatic beer is thus destroyed.
Although I have too many glasses at home, I don’t think you need one specific glass for one specific beer. My general approach is to drink everything Ale from a tulip or Teku glass, and everything Lager from a Willi Becher or a Nonic pint glass. In my opinion, those are the only glasses you need to have to enjoy all beer styles.”
Tiffany Waldron: “One thing I always reference is the (rather fun) YouTube video that highlights how important it is to release the CO2 in beer into the head (the old napkin trick). But I believe that serving beer in a wine glass is the easiest way to introduce new flavors to people who ‘don’t drink beer’—it’s familiar, it’s classic, and opens the sensory possibilities in beer to people who are skeptical.”
Bob Preece: “There are several ways I look at glassware, but for me it’s often an association trigger. Just this week I ordered a new release from a favorite brewery. I got an email overnight saying that the beer had been dispatched, and to thank me for the ongoing support, they had popped a glass in with my order. And here I am—the beer is everything I hoped for and more (I have just ordered more), and every time I fill the glass, it brings fond thoughts of Burning Sky Brewery!”
Mary Mackenzie: “If you’re dealing with someone who's never had beer outside of a bottle/can/shaker pint, it's easy to start with the concept that they'll experience more flavor and aroma from a better/proper glass. My parents were NOT beer drinkers until I got into beer a few years ago. I bought them one nice tulip glass from Allagash—which has just become my beer glass when I'm home—but most of the time they end up using their wine glasses. It works!”
Ian Graham: “In my experience, saying things like, ‘This glass enhances aroma’ can be a hit-or-miss strategy, depending on the crowd. Some people will just smile and nod to not be the odd one out. I think when talking about glassware, particularly with new beer drinkers, it is important to start with examples where the science is clear and easy to explain. To that end I typically start by talking about Stange glasses.
My understanding of the Stange glass is that—because of its narrow, cylindrical shape—the surface area through which CO2 can escape the beer is much smaller relative to the volume that the glass holds. This helps maintain carbonation over a longer period of time. This is particularly important when you consider how Kölsch is traditionally served in Cologne: servers distribute beers from large trays rather than pouring one-by-one at the bar. Stange glasses help the beer stay carbonated while on the move.
Once you have a reasonable, science-based explanation that most people can get behind, getting new drinkers to accept that glassware can change how they experience a beer becomes much easier.”
Bill Holland: “In a simple way, I compare beer glassware to wine glasses. Different wines require different glasses to magnify certain characteristics. Beer glassware uses the same philosophy: a proper glass helps amplify the best parts of a style. The effects are often subtle in terms of taste, but the appearance and experience are elevated. Death to the shaker pint.”
We didn’t want to stop there with glassware. We also asked The Fervent Few: if they had to get rid of everything but one glass, which would they keep?
Alex Marsh: “Duvel stemmed tulip. Mainly for its versatility. The larger version for 16oz cans or larger bottles.”
Ashley Rodriguez: “I don't have a specific beer glass, but I do have this one 4oz cup I stole from a coffee shop where I worked in New York. I was leaving for San Francisco, and when I told my boss I was taking a new job and moving across the country, he opened his wallet, gave me $500, and told me he wished he could have given me more. It was the most generous thing any employer has ever done for me. Even though it's barely functional as a coffee cup (I usually use it to do shots of apple-cider vinegar), I would probably fight anyone who tried to take that mug from me.”
Lana Svitankova: “My kitchen is pretty small, so no glassware cabinet for me—mostly I give away all festival glasses to my friends. But I’ve kept one glass. It's a trophy for being lucky enough to get tickets to last year’s Cantillon Quintessence (with Hill Farmstead). The event was amazing, and the elegance of the glass mirrors the meticulous planning and execution of this beer-and-food extravaganza. It was a day to remember. And this beauty is a pretty nice option for whiskey as well (I know, I know, it's not a proper whiskey glass—but nevertheless).”
Brett Higham: “I’m a simple man. The Libbey Beer Goblet is cheap and versatile. From IPAs to your fanciest mixed-fermentation beers, it can handle them all (and do great service to beer’s appearance and aroma).”
Niko Christensen: “I had to do this recently, and basically made decisions based on functionality and nostalgia. For example, I have no need for more beer tasters, but the four Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest tasters could make good candle holders to help remind me of how fun that event was. Why not repurpose them and give them a new function? TBH, if I had to ditch them all, I’d keep the red-wine glasses, since they have a dual purpose, and my Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Teku.”
Jason Berg: “The beer glass I would save if I had to start over is a fairly standard tulip glass with no branding or special design—but it’s thinner than most brewery-branded glasses, and holds 14oz, so it is the right size for head space and just feels right. I have no idea where I bought it, and treat it carefully every time I use it. For coffee, I really like a tall, slightly flared ceramic mug I got at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival nearly 10 years ago on a trip with friends. It holds far too much coffee for me, but maintains the temperature well and has a big handle.”
Jaron Wright: “Magnolia Brewing and 21st Amendment Brewery used to do a Belgian beer month together. If you went and drank all 12 of the beers across their locations, they gave you branded glassware. Back in 2013, they did a contest where they selected people who used their hashtag on social media to join a night of drinking at the two bars (with a stop in between at Toronado). I got to have a really fun night with some cool people (including one of the hosts, Dave McLean). Today, the glass reminds me how great that night was.”
Patrick Guo: “The Belgian-style stemmed tulip. It’s sturdy, feels good in the hand, can show off the beer’s color, and can gather the aroma. However, if I really have to ditch everything else, I would prefer to have a Willi Becher for Lagers.”
Casey Street: “I like to switch up glasses almost every time I drink, but my absolute favorite right now is a 21oz stemless Dragon Ball Z glass from a company called Pour Character. Since I'm prone to either spilling beer or breaking fancy stemmed glassware, the low center of gravity and extra capacity (beyond a typical 16oz can) are magical. And the design takes me right back to my childhood. Win-win.”
Rob Steuart: “My brandy balloons are the standard glasses that I use. I have lots of different beer-specific glasses, but my balloons are solid all-rounders that I don't feel like I'm going to break every time I use.”
Michael Kiser: “The Saison Dupont glass I bought at the brewery is both highly functional (it's basically a cross between a Willi Becher and a tall juice glass) and emotional (visiting Brasserie Dupont is still my all-time favorite experience as a fan, writer, and photographer). I spent three days there alongside Olivier DeDeycker, and the simple elegance of the place is totally expressed in that glass for me.”
Paige Latham Didora: “I prefer the tulip shape since it works for so many styles. My absolute favorite is a Four Firkins beer glass engraved with my name. The Four Firkins was a craft beer store in Minneapolis that is no longer in existence. It was my first industry job. It was ahead of its time. So, the glass is both practical and nostalgic.”