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Gaga for Glassware

So next week as you’re out and about trying the ultra-rare sippers and lower gravity session beers, be sure that you’re paying proper mind to the glass you’re beer is in. It can make a world of difference in the perception of your beer!

As we enter SAVOR Beer Week DC, you will no doubt have the opportunity to try a wide variety of beers. As a PSA, we provide to you this helpful little aside about glassware in the hope that its proper use will help you get the best out of the beers that you drink next week!

If you are a Belgian-style or Belgian ale fan, you are familiar with snifters. If you are a true Belgian ale expert, you know the reason that you’d need a small tulip instead of a large tulip. If you know this, you probably also know when a wide-mouthed goblet trumps the tulip regardless of size.

Still, some ask, ‘why use a glass at all?’ For starters, you can’t really tell what your beer looks like in a bottle or can. Similarly, smelling your beer becomes infinitely easier when sniffing out of a glass instead of a bottle or can. Would you drink wine straight from the bottle?

The Brewers Association has a great listing of different beer glasses for virtually any and all styles (or hybrids). Some glasses were specifically designed to trap aromas and maintain a frothy head. Other glasses have a more intricate link to their historical origins.

If you’ve sampled DC Brau’s The Public pale ale in the can, you likely noticed the serving suggestion: “Serve in a tulip, goblet, or enjoy from the can.” In a recent email exchange, DC Brau CEO Brandon Skall reemphasized the point: “No doubt the proper glassware is important to the taste and aroma of the beer you are drinking, but we also wanted to communicate that time and place is just as important.”

Perhaps even more important than having the right glass is making sure it is clean. It would seem easy enough, but deciding on how to keep your glassware clean is a science all its own. We asked Mad Fox CEO and Executive Brewer Bill Madden about how he keeps his glassware clean. While he revealed that Mad Fox does use a cleaner, it is not your typical chlorine-based sanitizer. Bill also mentioned that “many high volume bars and restaurant staff do not want to invest the time or inventory to have the glasses air dry and fill them regardless, the chlorine kills the head on beer and makes it appear flat; hot glasses will do the same.”

Madden also mentioned that glassware “is something I did a lot of research on to ensure that we have clean glassware that is not stacked (another problem with etching and nucleation points, don’t get me started) and properly presents the product we have worked so hard to create.”

As you can see here, many in the craft beer industry are vehement about the use of proper glassware. To paraphrase Natalie Cilurzo, the worst glass you could use at a beer tasting is a pint glass. Still, I have found that the majority of glassware giveaway events I have attended saw me taking an American pint glass home. I have found a fantastic use for said pint glasses: fill them with water. If I only have two clean glasses in my cabinet, one wine and one pint, I will pour my beer into the wine glass and pour water into the pint glass.

So next week as you’re out and about trying the ultra-rare sippers and lower gravity session beers, be sure that you’re paying proper mind to the glass your beer is in. It can make a world of difference in the perception of your beer!

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