I know this sounds crazy.. but hear me out: the beer glass really can make the beer. On that note, right out of the gate I implore bar owners and hosts/hostesses with the most/mostesses to please stop serving beer out of Mason Jars. This is not Pinterest ; this is real life (although you can follow us here)! Mason Jars are for pickled root vegetables and supergross disembodied organs on Hollywood sci-fi movie sets.
A properly designed and manufactured glass can improve head retention, thereby, trapping volatiles from escaping immediately upon pouring. Porosity of the glass is important for cleanliness as the shape can funnel aromas towards the nose while tasting, and added nucleation sites can accentuate effervescence.. Maaazin’.
Hopefully this won’t read as an advertisement. Please understand that I’m simply talking about a product I’ve had personal experience with. I promise to take some time in the near future to post more on this topic, as well as on the justification for the more conventional glassware recommendations for each beer style (including some awesome custom glasses created by breweries for their specific libations).. but for now I want to introduce you to a brand which is sure to amp up your basement bar or Mad Men style liquor cart. That brand is Spiegelau.
Spiegelau Beer Glasses
For our purposes, the most applicable portion of Spiegelau’s lineup comes from their unconventionally styled Craft Beer glassware. Each style was designed in partnership with at least one popular American brewery. In most cases, the final design for each beer style was part of a prototype taste test and was unanimously chosen from a myriad of options by a panel of expert tasters and brewers. The styles which are currently available are:
- IPA, developed with Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head
- Stout, developed with Left Hand and Rogue
- Barrel Aged, developed with Great Divide, Green Flash, Uinta and Cigar City
- American Wheat/Witbier, developed with Bell’s
My personal favourite is the IPA glass. I think this bad boy is a thing of beauty though some may have trouble deciding if it belongs in their kitchen cabinets or in their nightstand.
The video on the Spiegelau website explains that these glasses promote head retention, and my personal experience absolutely confirms it. I’ve always had trouble with consistency in priming and carbonating in bottle. There. I said it. The lack of consistency in this department is one of the main reasons I moved to kegging. That said, the difference between an unimpressively bottle carbed IPA in a shaker style glass and the same beer in the Spiegelau IPA glass was night-and-day. I attributed it largely to the nucleation in the base of the glass paired with the turbulence of the pour brought on by the ribs on the lower half.
The above-mentioned strength, however, also proves to be the product’s only weakness. The intentional nucleation sites in the bottom of the glass, in tandem with the narrow neck and sharp curves can make this thing a real pain to clean without soaking in suds (a real no-no for head retention on your next pour). Easy fix.. make sure you’re rinsing thoroughly between beers and just before the end of your session/competition. Thankfully if you forgot to rinse, these glasses are redonkulously dishwasher safe – tested to 1500 cycles with no scratching, loss of clarity, breakage, spontaneous combustion, etc.
I’ve done the Libbey thing to get myself started as I explored different beer styles, and if you’re eager to stock a cabinet with a variety of options, you really can’t beat the bang for your buck here. You get a well rounded collection from which you can certainly find a glass to suit any style. They just don’t feel like upper echelon glassware; they’re thick, clunky, often distorted and they are definitely not meant to stand the test of time.
My Spiegelau’s, on the other hand, have been torture tested by a man (me) on lonely, Tolkienesque beer journeys wherein each IPA ingested has swapped more and more fingers for thumbs. I’ve dropped these glasses from heights that have given me adequate time to go and find the broom before the glass even hit the counter (hyperbole). Not a scratch. Pair that robustness with the light weight, originality, and beauty of the glass and I feel that they’ve got a real winner.
So in short, if you’re looking for beer glasses that pay homage to the time it took to design and craft the beer therein, Spiegelau is a very safe bet. ..Plus, you have to trust me; I’m certified!
Spiegelau beer glasses can be purchased from many retailers across North America but if you feel so inclined to purchase online, please consider helping us out and following an Amazon link.