I must admit I have never given much thought to beer glasses. Sure, there are special designs, be it a revived pewter mug in England or a Kwak glass in a touristy bar in Brussels. And there are iconic glasses for classical beer styles, Kölsch, Berliner Weisse or Bavarian Weissbier. There are small samplers for, well, sampling. And there is the liter Mass glass of the Bavarian beer gardens.
But I was recently invited to a beer tasting where the focus was as much on the glasses as on the beers.
Bavarian glass maker Spigelau, with a history going back to the middle ages, has had a huge success with their IPA glasses, developed in cooperation with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. They are now launching a Stout glass, this time they have used Rogue as their partner.
Their range now includes a lager glass, a wheat beer glass, a tulip glass and the IPA and stout glasses mentioned above.
The tasting made us compare the same beer from two different glasses, one of them a generic beer glass being used in bars and restaurants all over the globe, the other glass the one developed especially for the type of beer in question.
Did they manage to convince me?
Well, despite a slight feel of evangelism in the presentation, there is a significant difference. It started off with a plain Carlsberg, and the Spigelau glass managed to make the most of even this standard lager, lifting aroma and flavour. With the Hefeweisse the difference was even more pronounced. And the big beers, a Chimay and a Sierra Nevada Torpedo, were just great when served in an optimal glass.
The glasses keep the beer at the right temperature, as they are thin without being brittle. They lift the aroma and flavour, and they give the right carbonation and the right head for the beer they are made for.
You can buy boxes with all the glasses or pick the ones you want. A quick search shows that you can get sets with four different glasses for about 350 Norwegian kroner around here. Which is not much when you consider what you pay for a beer…
At the very least, I will retire a few glasses with brewery logos to the basement and make room for the IPA and stout glasses from Spiegelau.