Beer Glassware: What’s So Special About The Shape?

Beer & Spirits

When thinking about beer glassware, it’s crucial to consider the three perceptions used for beer drinking. The first is the appearance of the beer. For example, if a pilsner is ordered and it shows up black, the beer drinker would question the beer and send it back. The second is aroma. Smell has a huge impact on how beer drinkers perceive taste and flavor. The third is obvious—the taste. The flavor of a beer means everything, from lingering mouthfeel, to malt and hop flavor profile, to bitterness on the tongue or any other remaining flavors after the beer has been gulped. With that in mind, here are some examples of different types of glasses and their best-served purposes:

An American pint glass is a typical style of beer glass and is common for most breweries. This glass doesn’t change or enhance the beer flavor or aroma and can be used for just about any typical style of beer poured off tap, out of a can or from a bottle.

“The IPA glass is a peculiar shaped glass which starts off narrow, then wide, then curves back into a more narrow rim at the top, which is supposed to allow for a better flowing.”

A pilsner glass is a tall, narrow glass which typically holds 12–20 ounces and is used to make a beer shine. This glass is high and slim, which allows bubbles to crawl a longer distance up the side and creates better head retention for beers with higher carbonation. A slim glass will allow the drinker to have a better visual of a particular beer’s clarity. This glass is common for “clear seeing” beers such as pilsners and helles, but not so much for dark beers like porters and stouts since they are too dark and have lower, softer carbonation.

A goblet or chalice glass has a large, wide rim, looking like a fish bowl sitting on top of a thick stem. The glass itself is thicker and more durable, usually held with a firm fist because of the excess weight. The purpose of the wide mouth in this case is for full, whole-hearted drinks, which beer chuggers tend to love. It’s common to drink this style glass with higher-alcohol beers such as Belgian-Style dubbels and tripels.

“A pilsner glass is a tall, narrow glass which typically holds 12–20 ounces and is used to make a beer shine.”

The IPA glass is a peculiar shaped glass which starts off narrow, then wide, then curves back into a more narrow rim at the top, which is supposed to allow for a better flowing. For IPAs, the hops are the star of the show, so it makes sense to have an IPA be served in a glass which helps the aroma flow upwards. The narrow rim at the top helps the carbonation to sustain better and gives better head retention.

Weizen Glass (which is German for “Wheat Glass”) is similar to a pilsner glass, but usually tends to hold more ounces. It has a narrow base and wide walls flaring up to allow the beautiful wheat color to shine, while also locking in signature flavors and aromas like banana and clove.

What shape of glass beer is served in might not make much of a difference to some, but people who really enjoy their beer served to the utmost potential share a higher appreciation for the tasty beverage. Next time you take a sip of the “nectar of the gods,” take a brief moment to understand and appreciate the design of the vessel it’s being served in.