CT Beer Trail

     Having the right hardware is important. Whether you have a buffed out video card to run the hottest video games, a high horsepower engine to make you the fastest on the block, or the right weights and routines to get you looking real fine: there is a hard and fast rule that there is a "best" tool for every job.

    So if that's the case, what about our barware? Should we agonize over what's a pilsner glass and what's a stout glass? Or should we just find any receptacle, pour out our beer, rinse (sometimes), and repeat? My personal answer is, "Well. It's really up to you."

Ah, the inauspicious pint glass. Courtesy:  noii's (Flickr)

     Wonderfully vague, I know, but let me explain. Through my (arguably brief) tenure as a beer aficionado, I've drunk out of jam jars (cleaned first, and they actually make great 'highball' glasses), giant steins, tiny snifters, standard pint glasses, chalices, and fake plastic mountains turned upside-down (yeah, long story). The point is that the drinking receptacle, I've noticed, varies greatly and depends almost entirely upon the company you keep.

Get some of these puppy's in highball size, and you'll be living country fabulous! Courtesy: Rev Dan Catt (Flickr) 

      If it's a party, with tons of people, you're not going to want to bring out the fine glassware for fear of breakages. You'll break out either the big red solo cups (if you're trying to recapture your college years), or some nice thick-walled glass pint glasses that you can pick up a dozen for around a dollar each at Target. Another bonus of basic pint glasses is that they are remarkable tough. If you're aiming to impress, on the other hand, the chalice glasses (or the appropriate beer glass for the beer style) are the way to go. Going to a beer fest? Bring your own tiny glass to take samples with and get instant credibility. Nothing says "I know beer" like bringing in a tasting glass from a fest that's happened 10 years ago (bonus points if the fest is defunct).

A chalice waiting for some delicious brew. Courtesy: Mr Wabu (Flickr)

      As far as taste difference in glasses is concerned, I have noticed iotas of difference between beer in a "standard glass" and in an "appropriate glass." The biggest and most noticeable difference comes with heavier, malty beers like bocks, stouts, and large porters. With a drink like that, a glass with a wider brim and fuller bowl will offer a greater area to take in aromas from the beer. When you can get a good whiff off a heavy beer, the thick maltiness will settle into the nose and really give you a deeper appreciation for the finer notes of the drink. With a glass with a narrower brim you can't get as good of a nose off of it. Other differences from "appropriate" glassware include the better settling of the beer, improved aroma release, and aided warming of the beer.
     This isn't to say that one should run out and buy a full complement of "appropriate" glassware (although I do have that), but moreover it is a suggestion to have at least a handful of standard pint glasses, some highballs, and a chalice or two. With glassware like that you can at least mix and match what you want out of your beer, and have a good spread for when company comes over.

Now THESE folks know their beer ware! Courtesy: craigemorsels (Flickr)

     So what do you think? Are you a stickler for glassware? Or, like me, is that more dependent upon who is drinking out of those glasses with you? Let me know, and add me on Facebook, Twitter, and my Blogger account.

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Comment by Jeffrey C. Ballard on January 27, 2012 at 1:44pm

More particular of who I'm drinking with, I still use big red solo cups, not willing to break/age of my collected pint glasses- accidents happen.

Comment by Frank on January 27, 2012 at 10:08am

Call me an ubergeek or ubersnob, but I always try to match the beer style to the appropriate glassware.  I would never consider a tulip glass a universal glass as it's matched to a very small number of styles, and I would never have an empty jam jar in the house unless I just finished up a jar of jam, and I never let guests drink out of a bottle even though that may be their preferred "glassware."  But maybe that's just me.  There's a great article on beeradvocate about glassware at http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware.  And yes I am running out of cabinet space...

Comment by Brien Stephen on January 22, 2012 at 6:55pm

Yeah my go-to "fancy" glass is my Chimay chalice as well. Anything with a wide brim (tulip, snifter) typically enhances the flavor/scent sensation of a good beer.

Comment by Bryon Turner on January 21, 2012 at 4:26pm

I enjoy a good chalice or large snifter...  Wine glasses work well for beer too.  But ideally, I'd like to broaden my drinking vessel variety, but cabinet space is a premium at Casa de Turner...

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