The style of vessel used for drinking beer has developed immensely over the years. Go back many centuries and we have wood, ceramic, pewter and even Viking horns to enjoy beer. However glass is the material of the day. But do different beer glass shapes really make a difference to taste?
Apparently yes, and the standard shaker style pint glass is going out of flavor. More and more new glass designs are coming at us all with a view to enhance the beer experience.
Do Different Beer Glass Shapes Really Make A Difference To Taste?
The science of a beer glass is to deliver the beer on more than one level. First is appearance, second the way the beer behaves. Third is the aroma and fourth the taste. Obviously the aroma and taste are closely connected. So, the shape of a beer glass does make a difference to the taste of the beer.
However it is also very much down to personal choice too.
The Appearance Of A Beer
A beer is best served in a glass. Anyone who likes a beer is guilty of drinking it straight from the can or bottle. However doing this does not let us enjoy the appearance of the beer (unless it is a clear bottle of course).
Imagine not seeing the beautiful red hues of the Hobgoblin Ruby Beer or the deep roasted colours of a decent porter.
Appearance is an important part of the beer drinking experience. The type of glass will lend a different look to any beer. I prefer the goblet or chalice type glass, as opposed to the straight shaker type glass.
Appearance is the first stage to any beer experience, however this is really down to personal choice.
Does A Glass Change The Behaviour Of Beer?
The second point to a beer glass is the behaviour of the beer. The shape of a glass can determine how well the head holds. Also the glass design can determine how well the aromas are released.
The beer in a straight glass will perform differently to beer in a goblet glass. A glass that is nucleated will make the beer behave differently to a non nucleated glass.
The cleanliness of a beer glass will also make the beer behave differently. A glass that is beer clean will retain the head better and is more likely to leave a nice lacing too.
A dirty glass will kill the head add the lacing too, the bubbles will cling to the side of the glass.
The Aroma Of Beer
Whilst the aroma of beer can be dampened by how cold it is served, the glass can make a difference too.
A straight shaker style glass may not enhance the aroma of beer. Whereas a tulip style glass with its bowl and flared rim may promote the aroma of beer.
There are many styles of glasses designed for beer from the straight pint glass, which was used mainly for convenience rather than to enhance the beer in any way. To the new fangled designs coming from the breweries themselves, which are designed not only with marketing in mind, but also to enhance the beer.
Experiment with pouring the same beer into a straight glass and also a tulip glass. observe how the beer behaves as well as how it smells and tastes.
The difference may be slight, but there will be a difference.
The Taste Of Beer
The taste of beer is very closely connected with the smell of beer. Apparently taste is made up of around 80% aroma.
So we taste predominantly what we smell first with our taste buds finishing off the job. Try tasting something whether it be food or drink by holding your nose shut. Then taste again after having a good sniff first and taste the difference.
The shape of a glass then when it comes to the taste of the beer works in the same way as it does for aroma. In fact I suspect the glass is more important in respect of aroma than taste. This aroma giving the enhancement in taste.
Let The Beer flow
One other factor to the shape of a beer glass is the flow of beer. According to a study we drink beer quicker in a curved glass than we do from a straight glass.
This seems to be because it is harder to judge how much is left in the glass of a curved glass.
However in my opinion and I am no scientist I think the reverse. A standard straight pint glass invites us to gulp a beer as oppose to sip it. The wide rim lets the beer flow faster.
I find when I drink beer form a tulip or goblet glass I tend to drink slower as the flow is less. But that is just my opinion based on my own experience.
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The Best Craft Beer Glass
There is a beer glass especially designed for craft beer. Originally designed by an Italian sensory expert, these glasses are loved by many beer experts.
The Teku Glass is a revised tulip style glass. It has a stem on a sturdy base with a deep bowl narrowing to the top. The top then flares out with a thin rim to enhance aromas.
Another alternative if you are not worried about price is the handmade glasses at the Pretentious Glass Co. They really have some wacky designs.
It is evident then that the shape of a glass can change the taste of beer. It does this through how well it holds the head and aroma of the beer.
The difference between glass shapes and the taste of beer maybe a subtle one, but there are differences.
However for me it is about the whole experience which starts with appearance and ends in taste. Another factor is how comfortable we find a glass, so it really is down to personal choice.
The best way to find your perfect beer glass is to experiment. Try the same beer in a number of glasses and observe the differences in handling as well as taste.
Have you got a favorite beer glass? If so share your thoughts on what type it is, but most of all just enjoy the beer (responsibly of course).