Beer is one of the oldest beverages developed by civilizations, so we can only imagine the types of drinking vessels that were first created for beer. Traditionally beer glasses, were made with a specific purpose. For example, the German beer stein was developed with a lid to keep flies out of it during the Black Plague. Another example is the pint glass, which was produced to prevent breakage when storing beer glassware by stacking them.
It also has been said that the reason there are so many types of beer glasses available in this time is due to typical marketing schemes by beer breweries. This could be a true statement, there are just about as many beer glasses as there are types of beer. But would the beer breweries go that far for a marketing scheme if there wasn’t a benefit to this? Of course not! Like wine, beer glasses each have many attributes in which improve the flavors in different types of beer. Beer contains volatiles which are compounds that evaporate from it to create a beer’s aroma. Choosing the right glass for the type of beer you’re drinking can enhance these volatiles when pouring your brew. With so many choices, choosing a glass for your beer can be overwhelming. That is why we put together a short guide on the types of beer glasses along with beer recommendations below.
The American pint glass is just about the most common type of beer glass. These are the best beer glasses for use at local restaurants and most homes because they are easier to store by stacking them. They are constructed in a nearly tubular style that tapers slightly toward the bottom of the glass and usually holds 16 ounces. The British pint glass is similar to the American pint glass, but the difference is a slight bump along the top of the glass and it holds 20 ounces. The bump also adds the benefit of grip so your beer glassware won’t get stuck when stacking them. Another benefit this small bulge adds is head retention when pouring your beer which creates the well known aroma of great beer.
Recommended types of beer: American Stout, English Porter, and Irish Red Ale*
Beer mugs are a popular type of glass which feature a sturdy handle and are usually heavier than other glassware. The handles are said to have been developed so the drinker would have more confidence when “clinking” glasses. These can be made of a variety of materials including pewter, ceramic, glass, or stainless steel to name a few. Well-known beer glass styles of the beer mug include the German beer stein, tankards, and dimpled mugs. The stein is a German beer mug that is usually made of pewter and, many times has a pewter lid attached to it. Legend has it steins were developed in during the black plague to keep the fleas that carried the black plague out of your beer. Yuk! Thankfully we no longer have to deal with disease carrying fleas but they are still a great way to keep flies and other bugs out of your favorite brew.
Beer tankards, similar to the stein, have a flared round bottom, hold more than the usual serving size of beer, and some tankards even have a glass bottom. A funny story behind the glass bottom tankard is that most bar fights started when someone was blindsided while drinking from their tankard; the glass bottom provides a clear view so they could always see what was coming! Meanwhile, dimpled mugs are a charming beer mug style that was once a standard beer glass at pubs in Britain.
Recommended types of beer: American Black Ale, American Malt Liquors, English Stout*
Pilsner glasses are a more elegant type of beer glass. These beer glasses are tall and have tapered walls that lead to a sturdy base. The pilsner glass was created to complement the lighter ales. The thin walls show off and maintain the sparkle in the golden hues of the ales they contain. The tall pilsner glass is also ideal for maintaining the perfect beer head which enhances the volatiles in beer, therefore creating a better enjoyment in the taste of pale ales. Sometimes this beer glass style can be mistaken for a Weizen glass, but the pilsner is tapered evenly from top to bottom and has no curves in its design at all.
Recommended types of beer: American Pale Lager, Czech Pilsener, and Low Alcohol Beer*
Overall, the beer glassware you choose for your ale is ultimately up to you. The different types of beer glasses all have their pros and con dependent on the type of beer you are drinking. Other popular beer glass types include, but surely are not limited to, weizen glasses, the infamous beer boot, tulips, goblets, and oversized wine glasses. No matter if your choice of ale is bitter, cream ale, or stout there is a beer glass that was specifically created to accent the aromas and taste of your beer just right! So experiment with different beer glasses and see which one enhances the taste of your favorite beer to perfection.