Understanding Beer: Glassware, Smell, and OC Beer

Categories: Hops to It!

Photo by Cleo Tobbi

Most people order a beer by asking for a "pint," a "glass" or even just "one." But while it may look pretentious to ask for a goblet or tulip glass for your favorite Belgian, these glassware options aren't just for show. Most American-style beer, like American pale ales or ambers, don't need fancy stemware, but everything from steins to snifters have a place in the beer world, and every savvy beer drinker should understand why these different glasses will enhance your beer drinking experience.

First thing to keep in mind is that the entire point of these different styles of glasses is that they all affect the aroma of the beer. According to The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, "approximately 90 percent of taste is smell," so do your taste buds a favor and sniff before you chug. Also, try not to fill your beer to the brim. We all love a full glass, but that's how those beautiful notes and esters drift off before you get a good whiff.

Now for the glassware.

Photo by Cleo Tobbi

The shaker glass: A surprise, the shaker glass should hardly be used for beer. This mold of glassware got its name from the cocktail shaker, which bartenders would jam together with the shaker glass and mix your Mai Thai. At some point, bartenders started serving craft beer in them and others have followed suite. Due to the narrower base and straight rim, the aroma becomes sweltered, ultimately affecting the overall taste of the beer. Ninety percent, remember?

Recommended OC beer: If you don't have a choice, shoot for the Palomino Pale Ale from Bootleggers Brewery.

Photo by Tim Pierce
Not just for the hard stuff!

The stemmed tulip: Named the "best of all the worlds" by Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink, for the glass' inward tapered lip and wide base. Like a wine glass, the stemmed tulip glass lends to the aroma of the beer, concentrating it for the ultimate drinking experience. Could you use a wine glass, you ask? Sure. These days, with pricey bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts and sours aged in wine barrels, craft beer has shifted away from its blue-collar connotation, so don't be afraid to get a little fancy with your glass too. In fact, the Teku glass, seen at Native Son Alehouse, is nothing more than an angular wine glass.

Recommended OC beer: Fifth Symphony Saison from Pizza Port Brewing Co.

Photo by Cleo Tobbi
Bring me my goblet!

Goblet: Similar to the tulip, sans curved lip, the goblet is another option to aid in tasting your brew. Because of the wider top and narrow base, the best aspect of the goblet is the stem. A stem is there to prevent the heat from your hand to alter the temperature of the drink you're holding.

Recommended OC beer: Holy Cow, a milk stout with green curry, from Bottle Logic Brewing

Tapered Pilsner glass: Born in the Czech Republic, this shape of glass is made for Pilsners. The tall, tapered glass, is meant to observe the clear color Pilsners are known for. This style of glass also helps keep a thick, frothy head.

Recommended OC beer: Pistol Whip'd from Noble Ale Works

Snifter glass: We know this glass from our scotch-drinking, but these tiny glasses also act as perfect tasting vessels for flights, bottle shares and beer festivals. Acting like a miniature tulip glass, the snifter carries the liquid in its wider base while pushing those beautiful aromas and esters up through the narrower top.

Recommended OC beer: Sucre 6th Anniversary Ale from The Bruery

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