Monday, November 5, 2007

A Random Post About Glassware

We are putting together some packages for various charities that make a habit of asking for such things. Our fall package includes a Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout, an Ale Asylum Hopalicious, a Capital Autumnal Fire, and a Lake Louie Louies Reserve (by the way, you can get all of these, like we did, at Star Liquor). We include with the beer some some appropriate glassware for the lucky bidder: a snifter and a becher. Also included with this package is a little "helpful" packet that explains the glassware and the beers. We thought that the bit on the glassware might be helpful (do not fear, the bit on the beers will be forthcoming as well). Also see the excellent guide at BeerAdvocate regarding glassware.

By the way, if you are interested in this particular package, you can bid on it at the Iowa County Humane Society Silent Auction being held at the Dodger Bowl on November 11, 2007. For more information or to place a web bid, please email us.

So, without further ado: The Beer Glass Tutorial Introduction.

You know that white wine goes in a white wine glass, red wine in a red white glass, brandy in a snifter, and champagne in a flute. And beer goes in a pint, right? Not necessarily. Much like wine, the beer glass shape and size can influence the taste of beer. Different kinds of glasses highlight different aspects of beer. The right beer in the right glass can even change the taste of the beer.

SnifterAs you pour the beer in the glass, watch as the beer swirls in the bottom, the head build, and the bubbles rise. The style of the glass improves the look, the smell, the experience. Please never chill your glassware and avoid the dreaded frosted glass. Why? As the beer hits the frosted glass, condensation occurs. This dilutes your beer and alters the serving temperature. A double whammy guaranteed to lessen the quality of your beer. Save the frosted mug for the Bud Light.

A new trend in bars across the country is to serve each beer in its own particular glass. Although some claim it is a marketing ploy, and to a certain point it is, different beers should be served in different glasses. Beyond the look of the beer, the shape of the glass impacts the development and retention of the beer’s head and the ability of the beer to retain temperature. The head created by pouring a beer acts as a trap for many of the volatiles in a beer. Volatiles are compounds that evaporate from beer creating its aroma, including hop oils, alcohol, and odors from spices, herbs or other additions. A glass that promotes a healthy head may capture more volatiles. Because different styles of beers call for varying levels of head retention and presentation, different styles of glassware should be used accordingly to attain the desired amount of head and captured volatiles.

Some beers warm up better than others. Subtle fruity beers and darker beers can thrive in higher temperatures. Highly carbonated pilsners and India Pale Ales do well at cooler temperatures. The shape of glass determines how much of the beer is exposed to warming elements and its rate of temperature change.

Becher Pint GlassSo which glass do you use for which beer? The answer can often be overwhelming. In Europe, and increasingly in American microbrews, each brand of beer will often have its own glass. In fact, glasses are still being invented for beer. Some bars in larger cities will even stock unique glassware for every brand of beer they serve, which could number in the hundreds or even thousands. But don’t worry, you need not follow suit. Like we said, marketing does play a role. So have fun, try different glasses for each beer. Although some people will tell you otherwise, the “right” glass depends on what you like. Whether you like your pilsner in a flute (Miller High Life is the “champagne of beers” after all.), in a stange, or something else entirely, the only thing that matters is that you are enjoying it.

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