The Complete Beer Glass Guide

by Brian

in Beer Essentials, Glassware, How-To


beer glass

What’s In A Glass?

A beer glass is far more than just a holder for beer. The proper glass will not only hold your beer, but it can completely change how you experience a beer. Some people might say that unique glassware is only a marketing ploy, or that it’s used by “beer snobs,” but hopefully this post will show you that there’s nothing snobby about using the proper glass for your craft beer.

While glassware is indeed used for marketing, this really stops with the name printed on the glass. As soon as beer leaves the can, bottle, or tap, everything about it begins to change. What you pour that beer into affects how it changes, both when you drink it and when it is waiting to be drank. The glass can change the smell, look, and overall impression of the beer, so hopefully you can see why it is so important!

There’s Science Involved?

There is indeed science involved in picking the proper glass. Now, I know talking about science in beer glasses doesn’t help my claim of “no snobbery allowed,” but hear me out. The shape of the glass directly affects how good the head is, and no, no puns intended. The head acts as a trap for the volatiles in the beer. Volatiles are the things in beer that evaporate to give it it’s smell. Meaning, the head on your beer keeps the good stuff in the glass till you’re ready to drink it. This is called “Head Development and Retention.”

Since every style of beer is different, they each need their own style of glass to make sure the head stays where it should be, and you get the exact right mix of smell and taste so you can really taste the beer. Check out my post on tasting beer to see how that works, too.

So What Glass Do I Use?

This can be a tough question for most people. Breweries like Samuel Adams often make their own glasses, sometimes designed even before the beer for them is made! This way, the glass fits the beer perfectly, not only for the style, but the exact beer you are drinking. Belgian brewers tend to be big proponents on creating custom glassware as well. While it’s always a good idea to use the specific glass a brewery designed for a beer, most bars don’t carry a glass for every beer. I’ve compiled a quick guide below of what glass is recommended for most of the popular styles of beer. Have a look and don’t hesitate to save this post’s information for when you’re at the bar so you can impress your friends that are drinking out of shaker glasses with what you know! Just try to not sound snobby! 

(Note, each heading is a clickable link to view more images of that style of glass so you can see more examples.)


The Goblet

beer glass gobletGrandiose pieces of glassware, ranging from delicate and long stemmed (Goblet) to heavy and thick walled (Chalice). The more delicate ones may also have their rims laced with silver or gold, while the heavy boast sculpture-like stems. Some are designed to maintain a 2-centimeter head. This is achieved by scoring the inside bottom of the glass, which creates a CO2 nucleation point, and a stream of eternal bubbles and perfect head retention as a result.

Benefits: Nice to look at. Designed to maintain head. Wide-mouthed for deep sips.
Also Known As: Chalice

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • Belgian IPA
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Berliner Weissbier
  • Dubbel
  • Quadrupel (Quad)
  • Tripel

The Mug

beer glass mugSturdy, large, with a handle; the mug is a fun and serious piece of glassware that comes in many sizes and shapes. The best part of using a mug is that you can clink them together with more confidence than other types of glassware, and they hold loads of beer. Think German Oktoberfest. Seidel is a German mug, while a Stein is the stone equivalent that traditionally features a flip-top metal lid, the use of which dates back to the Black Plague to prevent flies from falling in between drinks.

Benefits: Easy to drink out of. Holds a lot of beer.
Also Known As: Stein or a Seidel

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • Amber / Red Ale
  • Black Ale
  • Blonde Ale
  • Brown Ale
  • IPA
  • American Pale Ale (APA)
  • Porter
  • Stout
  • Strong Ale
  • Baltic Porter
  • Bock
  • Cream Ale
  • Czech Pilsener
  • Doppelbock
  • English Bitter
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
  • German Pilsener
  • Irish Dry Stout
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Keller Bier / Zwickel Bier
  • Maibock / Helles Bock
  • Märzen / Oktoberfest
  • Milk Stout
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • Scottish Ale
  • Vienna Lager
  • Witbier

The Pint Glass

The Pint Glass is the quintessential beer drinker’s glass. This is by far the most common glass you will find in a bar. Generally the Shaker style is found most, also called the poor man’s pint glass. The glass pictured to the left is technically called a 20 oz. Imperial. This type has extra room for the head to collect in a 1 pint pour. Notice the ridge near the top.

Benefits: Cheap to make. Easy to store. Easy to drink out of.
Also Known As: (Shaker, Tumbler)

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • Adjunct Lager
  • Amber / Red Ale
  • Amber / Red Lager
  • Black Ale
  • Blonde Ale
  • Brown Ale
  • Dark Wheat Ale
  • Double / Imperial Stout
  • IPA
  • American Pale Ale (APA)
  • Porter
  • Stout
  • Strong Ale
  • Baltic Porter
  • Black & Tan
  • California Common / Steam Beer
  • Cream Ale
  • English Bitter
  • English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • English Pale Ale
  • Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
  • Irish Dry Stout
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Milk Stout
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • Old Ale
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Rye Beer
  • Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
  • Winter Warmer
  • Witbier

The Weizen Glass

The best possible way to drink a true Weizenbier (Wheat Beer) is in an authentic and traditional Bavarian Weizen Glass. These tall, unique glasses have a thin wall that, along with their height, help to show off the beautiful color of the Weizenbier. The large opening that is flared at the top helps to contain the foamy head on most wheat beers. Don’t listen to what the bartender tells you and forgo the lemon or orange slice in this, as it will destroy the head.

Benefits: Specifically produced to take on volume and head, while locking in the aromas associated with the wheat style.

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • American Dark Wheat Ale
  • American Pale Wheat Ale
  • Dunkelweizen
  • Gose
  • Hefeweizen
  • Kristalweizen
  • Weizenbock

The Pilsner Glass

Typically a tall, slender and tapered 12-ounce glass, possibly shaped like a trumpet, that captures the sparkling bubbles and colors of a Pils while retaining the head. A Pokal is a European Pilsner glass that has a stem.

 

Benefits: Showcases color, clarity and carbonation. Promotes head retention. Enhances volatiles.
Also Known As: Pokul

 

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • American Lager
  • Amber / Red Lager
  • Double / Imperial Pilsner
  • American Pale Lager
  • Doppelbock
  • Dortmunder / Export Lager
  • Dark Lager
  • Pale Lager
  • German Pilsener
  • Happoshu
  • Japanese Rice Lager
  • Light Lager
  • Maibock / Helles Bock
  • Munich Dunkel Lager
  • Munich Helles Lager
  • Vienna Lager

 

Check out the Craft Beer Showdown Podcast to learn more about craft beer and hear from the people that not only work in craft beer, they live it.


The Snifter

This style of glass is used primarily for brandy and cognac. These wide-bowled and stemmed glasses with their tapered mouths are perfect for capturing the aromas of strong ales. The snifter lends itself to beers that are high in alcohol, as these generally have the most volatiles to smell, and the glass lends allows for the beer to be warmed by the hand, as most higher alcohol beers are served colder than they should be. The snifter gets a bad rep for being the “beer snob” glass, but used with the right beer it will enhance that expensive beverage you just purchased.

 

Benefits: Captures and enhances volatiles.

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • American Barleywine
  • Double / Imperial IPA
  • Double / Imperial Stout
  • Strong Ale
  • Belgian Dark Ale
  • Belgian Pale Ale
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Belgian Strong Pale Ale
  • Barleywine
  • Red Ale
  • Gueuze
  • Lambic – Fruit
  • Old Ale
  • Quadrupel (Quad)
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
  • Tripel
  • Wheatwine

 

 


The Tulip Glass

A stemmed glass, with a…you guessed it… tulip-shape, where the top of the glass flares out to form a lip in order to capture the head, with the body being bulbous.

 

Benefits: Captures and enhances volatiles, while it induces and supports large foamy heads.

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • Double / Imperial IPA
  • Wild Ale
  • Belgian Dark Ale
  • Belgian IPA
  • Belgian Pale Ale
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Belgian Strong Pale Ale
  • Bière de Garde
  • Flanders Oud Bruin
  • Flanders Red Ale
  • Gueuze
  • Lambic – Fruit
  • Belgian Quad
  • Saison
  • Farmhouse Ale
  • Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

 

 


The Stange Glass

A traditional German style glass, the word stange literally means “stick” and these tall, slender cylinders are used to serve more delicate beers, amplifying malt and hop nuances.

Benefits: Tighter concentration of volatiles.

 

 

 

 

Use with these Beer Styles:

  • Altbier
  • Bock
  • Czech Pilsener
  • Gose
  • Gueuze
  • Kölsch
  • Lambic

 


There are a few other glass styles, like the Champagne Flute or even an oversized wine glass, but honestly, if you can’t get your glass from the list above, you’re probably being a little too beer snobby. Now that you have your glass, go get a beer and enjoy!

Cheers!

Related Posts: How to Taste A Craft Beer

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