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How Glassware Shape Changes Your Beer

When it comes to beer, we should all be glass half full people – especially if we’re enjoying it from the appropriate glassware. Because this not only improves the overall presentation but can enhance a beer’s color, aroma and taste.

Here’s our guide to perfectly pairing your next brew with its proper glassware.

A heads up

The shape of glassware has a direct effect on the head of the beer. That’s the foam created by pouring it. This acts as a net for many of the volatiles in a beer. Volatiles are the compounds that evaporate from beer to create its aroma. A glass that promotes a strong foam head may enhance the trapping of certain volatiles. Different styles of beers will prefer varying levels of head retention, so different styles of glassware should be used to achieve the desired result.

Barleywine – Snifter

The snifter is a mix between a goblet and a chalice. It’s ideal for strong, malty-heavy brews. With a wide-bowled and stemmed glass, this shape is designed to provide a good grip with fingers overlapping on the glass itself, which helps warm the beer to deliver its aromas. The design also allows for swirling to agitate volatiles for even more aromas to be released.

Hefeweizen, Weizenbier or Weissbier – Weizen Glass

This glass has a strong base, tall shape, bulbous top section and thin walls. The shape helps the aromas to stay inside even when the glass is tipped. In fact, you’ll be overcome with banana and clove aromas. The height highlights the signature golden hue of wheat beers, while the opening ensures head retention. They look similar to pilsner glasses in appearance (more on that later), but a little curvier.

IPA – IPA Glass

The tapered-style IPA glass is the most intricate. It has a wide mouth and top half with an indented narrow/ridged stem. The ridges intensify the aroma, while the open mouth allows for a fluffy head. It helps the drinker take in those fruity citrus and piney aromas in every sip.

Lager or Pilsner – Pilsner Glass

Tall and skinny glasses with a slight curve that creates a narrower base than the mouth. This structure not only shows off a pilsner’s clear golden hue, but helps keep the foam in head intact.

Marzen – Mug, Seidel or Stein

These are large and sturdy vessels with a handle that are designed to hold as much beer as possible. Less concerned with preserving aroma, flavor and appearance when compared to other glassware. A seidel is a German mug, while a Stein is a stone equivalent that typically features a lid, which was used back in the Black Plague to prevent flies from getting in.

Stout – Stout Glass, Imperial or Nonic Pint Glass

This tapered glass with an indented base ensures retention of the head, while the bowl shape highlights the chocolate and coffee notes of a stout.

You can also use an imperial or nonic pint glass, which looks like a standard pint glass with bulb shape near the rim of the glass. They were originally designed for easy holding and to discourage sticking when stacking, but the bulb shape handles the thick foam common in stouts very well.

Sour Beer – Tulip Glass

A tulip is a stemmed glass, where the top pushes out to form a lip (similar to the flower). This helps capture the aroma while keeping the head intact, so you can take in aroma and acidity without warming them up with your hand. With this glass, you can also swirl to awaken more volatiles and release more aromas.

Drinking a beer is already a great time, you can make it even better by enjoying it in the appropriate glassware.