Elevate your customer's beer experience with the right beer glass or mug
Gone are the days where beer is beer. We’ve ushered in an era when it’s actually surprising if you don’t know the difference between a lager, a witbier, and an IPA.
And just as customer demand for restaurants to carry more and more varying styles of craft beers has increased, so has the requirement for beer-specific glasses.
No longer restricted to just wines, beer styles now demand various sizes, shapes, and styles of glassware, too.
But what do you need to appease your beer aficionado guests? Find out in our beer glass buying guide!
Why are there different types of beer glasses?
Beer and wine have more similarities than you would think. No, beer is not made from grapes, however just as wines have varying textures, colours, aromas, and flavours — based on the wine style, grapes used, and the region it’s made — beers also comes in a seemingly endless arrangement of weights, colours, flavours, and smells — also based on where they’re made, the style the brewer is going for and what the beer is actually made with.
And just like different wine glasses are made to enhance specific wines, there are a number of different beer glasses, designed for specific types of beers, which enhance each specific beer’s strengths and qualities.
Why should bars and restaurants use the "right" beer glass?
Serving a beer in the proper glass enhances the best qualities of that brew. For example, a goblet glass with a wide opening allows the drinker to take in the most of an ale’s flavour profile, while a tulip glass allows you to get the full spectrum of a lambic beer’s aroma. A tall and thin weizen glass brilliantly shows off a wheat beers golden colour and lets the citrus aromas radiate from the top of the glass.
Restaurants take great care to plate their food as beautifully as possible and use the freshest ingredients, or carefully measure the ingredients in a cocktail and store wines properly. Why?
Because a guest’s experience with food and drink is enhanced by their senses of smell and sight, prior to tasting anything, and we want them to experience the best possible version of what they are ordering. For a more general look at drinkware check out our Restaurant Drinkware Buying Guide.
Putting a beer in the “right” glass is how you serve your customers the best possible version of that beer, giving them the fullest aroma, most vibrant colours, and ideal tasting profile, so they can enjoy the beer exactly how the brewer envisioned it being enjoyed.
Parts of a beer glass or beer mug
The first point of contact when transferring the beer from the glass to your mouth. The rim of the glass can vary in thickness, but it should always be smooth and free of chips/cracks — not just to prevent any spillage or loss of flavour… but also so your guest doesn’t cut themselves!
Some glasses have the rim as the same circumference as the base or the rest of the glass, but others would have a larger rim. The part of the glass where it expands — or flares — out to the rim determines the intensity of the beer’s aroma and how much beer can be placed on your tongue.
The larger the flare, the more beer you can have with each sip.
Some glasses tend to jut out, or form a bulb, just below the rim. This is for beers that have a greater propensity to foam up when poured — the bulb helps catch the excess foam, keeping delicate aromas and smells intact and helping to accentuate them so your nose can detect them.
For footed glassware, such as snifters and tulip glasses, the bowl sits at the bottom of the drinking portion of the glass, where the majority of the beer resides (it’s usually coupled with a tapered top half of the glass). This allows the drinker to warm the beer via holding the bowl (for stouts, porters, and some English dark ales) while also helping retain the aroma.
When beer glasses have an inward curve, or concave, this aids in concentrating foam — particularly useful for highly carbonated beers, as the head helps reduce the carbonation in each sip, while preserving the aromas and flavours.
The opposite of a concave, the convex is found in outwardly curved glasses, which aids in trapping, retaining, and concentrating aromas in the majority of where the beer is consumed (the bowl).
Size and capacity of beer glasses
Size matters! And no, we’re not just talking about ordering a 60-oz. “thunder mug” to get the most beer possible — different beers are best served in different amounts.
It’s generally related to the alcohol content of the beer: lighter beers often comes in 18-23 oz. glasses, while strong beers (such as Belgian dubbels, stouts, and porters) will come in smaller, 12-15 oz. snifters.
Types of Beer Glasses and Beer Mugs
There are truly a plethora of beer glass styles available. We don’t have time to get truly granular on the minutiae of each possible glass type — but here are the most common styles you’ll find.
Your most standard beer glass found in a bar, they commonly are either the 16-oz. American pint glass or the proper 20-oz. imperial pint glass. The American version has a slightly flared rim from the base, while the imperial is a straight cylinder, minus a small bulb just below the rim.
Pint glasses are your all-purpose glass, but best used for English ales or anything on the lighter side of lagers and pilsners.
Stemmed Beer Glasses
We’re lumping together stemmed glassware here — think snifters, tulips, thistles, goblets, and flutes — which are predominantly used for specialty beers.
The convex shape and deep bowl help catch and retain flavour in the base of the glass, while also having a wide opening at the top, which allows the drinker to take in the full nose of the beer.
These types of glasses are often used to serve imperial IPAs and stouts, as well as heavy, strong beers like dubbels and tripels, while flutes often will hold fruit beers, krieks, and lambics.
Pilsner and Weizen Glasses
While not entirely the same, these two beer glass styles have many similarities; mainly that they’re tall and narrow at the base, with a wider circumference around the rim.
Pilsner glasses have a more pronounced flare, with the conical shape helping maintain the foam and pushing the aromas towards your nose, and are used — surprise — for pilsners of all kinds, plus other lighter lagers and even some witbiers.
Weizen glasses, designed to show off the colour and head of a wheat beer, tend to have a thin midsection — somewhat like one-half of an hourglass. They’re designed for wheat beers and generally hold a slightly smaller volume than a pilsner.
Ah, the classic pub mug/stein. Recognizable by the durable, thick, insulated glass and signature handle — which helps prevent your hands from warming the beer too quickly — this quintessential beer glass has been a favorite for centuries for those looking to drink classic American, German and English beers, as well as a variety of Irish brews.
It’s nothing fancy, but is there anything cooler than a cold beer in a big stein?
Beer Sampler Glasses
Beer flights have become increasingly popular as customers become more adventurous and want to try a sample of something they’ve never encountered before.
Rather than having to commit and blindly order a full beer they have zero clue about, customers choose a flight of 4 oz taster glasses where they can sample 3-5 beers instead.
Traditionally shaped either like a goblet, pilsner, or weizen glass, beer sampler glasses are designed to enhance the profile of most beer styles — allowing you to get an accurate taste (or first impression).
The Last Sip
Simply put: beer is fun. The increased presence of various beer styles, whether standing on their own or paired with food, bring a new element to the dining experience that many people had not experienced before.
Some people might just like a “cold beer in a cold glass” but for those looking to enhance their beer discovery and get the most out of every brew they do, having the right glasses for them to drink out of is a big step towards giving your clientele a memorable experience!
Written by Jared Hochman