Beer Glasses Every Bar Needs

Beer enthusiasts know that the shape of a beer glass affects the quality of the beer being served. After the beer is poured, some factors affect mouthfeel and flavor, like the presence of carbonation or aroma-enhancing compounds called volatiles. Using the appropriate beer glassware enhances these traits and improves the craft beer experience for your guests. Keep reading to learn all about the beer glass types available and which beers they complement the most.

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Types of Beer Glasses

1. Shaker Pint Glass

Pint glass filled with amber-colored beer

Probably the most recognizable beer glass available in the US, the standard American pint glass is heavy-bottomed with straight, tapered sides. This type of glass neither adds to nor detracts from the quality of the beer, making it a popular multipurpose glass.

The pint glass can be used to serve any style of beer and is stocked in a lot of bars and restaurants because of its versatility and affordability. Nicknamed the "shaker," it's the perfect size and shape to pair with a cocktail shaker for mixing drinks. Pint glasses are commonly customized with bar logos and can be sold as souvenirs to boost your sales. In a pinch, a shaker glass also doubles as a water or soda glass.

2. Imperial Pint Glass

Nonic pint glass filled with amber-colored beer

The Imperial pint, also known as an English pub glass or nonic pint, is the standard pint glass used in the UK. Similar to an American pint glass, the nonic glass features a bulge near the lip of the glass.

The unique shape of the glass adds to its structural durability and makes it less likely to be nicked or chipped than a straight-sided glass. It also fits comfortably in the hand and stacks well. Like its American cousin, the nonic glass is generally used as a multipurpose glass, but some say that the curvature of the glass is best suited to ales and stouts.

3. IPA Glass

Beer glass with a ridged base and bell shaped top

Relatively new in the world of beer glasses, the IPA beer glass was created through a collaboration between Spiegelau, Sierra Nevada, and Dogfish Head. This glass was tested and chosen from over 100 different glass shapes as the one that most accentuated the fruity nose and flavor of an IPA.

Deliberately designed, the IPA glass may look unusual, but the unique shape is very effective. The bell shape at the top of the glass pushes the aroma towards your nose as you sip, while the thin glass construction retains temperature. The IPA glass also preserves carbonation and keeps a frothy head longer than a standard pint glass. Use this glass to serve hop-forward beers like American IPAs.

4. Stout Glass

Stout glass filled with dark-colored beer

The stout glass is yet another specialized glass created by Spiegelau, with help from Left Hand Brewing Co. and Rogue Ales. Designed to complement the dark, roasted flavor and creamy mouthfeel of stout beers, this glass design was chosen from among several other glass prototypes. At first glance, it may look similar to the IPA glass, but there are some key differences.

The bowl of the stout glass is slightly wider at the base with a sharper curvature to deliver the rich, toasted aromatics to your nose as you sip. A shelf-like shape encourages a cascade of sinking bubbles and the hollow base helps retain carbonation and a frothy head.

5. Snifter

Bowl-shaped snifter glass filled with light-colored beer

Ideal for beers with high alcohol content, the bowl-like shape of the snifter glass allows you to swirl the beer and release its full aroma. The tapered lip brings the bouquet forward as you drink, enhancing the experience. Featuring a short-footed stem, the snifter glass is easy to hold and the warmth of your hand is thought to help release the aroma even more.

This glass is a favorite among beer enthusiasts and is used to serve strong beers like barleywines, imperial IPAs, and imperial stouts.

6. Tulip Glass

Tulip-shaped beer glass filled with amber beer

Similar to a snifter glass, the tulip beer glass has a round shape that's perfect for swirling. The feature that makes the tulip glass unique is a flared lip that retains froth and carbonation, making it ideal for beers with big, foamy heads.

The tulip glass helps to bring out some of the more subtle characteristics of heavy beers, but many aficionados think it complements any style of beer. It's most commonly used to serve strong beers like Scottish ales, Belgian ales, and barleywines.

7. Beer Goblet

Goblet-shaped beer glass filled with amber-colored beer

Goblets are large bowl-shaped glasses with thick stems designed for sipping and savoring beers with high alcohol content. In Belgium, breweries often design goblets for specific brands of beer and add decorative touches like gold rims.

The goblet glass is meant to look elegant, but it also has features that enhance certain types of beer. Etching on the inside bottom of the glass, also called nucleation, forces carbonation upward and helps to maintain the effervescence of the beer. The goblet works well with Belgian ales, sour ales, saisons, farmhouse ales, and barleywines.

8. Dimple Beer Mugs

Dimpled mug with handle filled with beer with a frothy head

This dimpled glass is also referred to by two German names. You might see it called a krug (pronounced kruuk), which translates to jug, or seidel (pronounced zai-dl), which translates to mug. It features an all-over dimpled pattern that adds to the durability of the glass and makes it comfortable to hold. A sturdy handle also makes the mug easy to grasp and clink together with your fellow drinkers.

The dimpled mug is the strongest of all the beer glasses and stands up well to abuse. You can use it to serve beers with strong malty flavors like lagers, stouts, and porters.

9. Stein Mug

Decorative pewter beer stein with intricate artwork and a thumb lever-operated lid

This iconic German mug is also sometimes referred to as a seidel but is most commonly known as a beer stein in the US. Featuring intricate designs with references to Germany and Bavaria, the beer stein is largely a decorative piece. These collectible stein mugs are made from materials like porcelain, pewter, stoneware, and silver.

A defining characteristic of the beer stein is the hinged pewter lid that covers the top of the mug and includes a thumb lever so that it can be opened with one hand. You can serve beer in these mugs, but they make a better souvenir than a drinking glass.

10. Pilsner Glass

Tall straight pilsner glass filled with light-colored beer

There are many variations on the shape of the pilsner glass, but traditionally it should be a tall, skinny, straight-sided glass that gets slightly wider towards the mouth. A true pilsner glass has no curvature.

The long shape of the glass shows off the hue and effervescence of light, golden-colored beers, while the mouth maintains the head and forces aromatics towards your nose. Use this glass with beers that are light in color and have bubbly carbonation like pale lagers and pilsners.

11. Weizen Glass

Tall weizen glass filled with light-colored beer

Sometimes confused with the pilsner glass, the weizen glass is also tall and narrow but flares out into a subtle bulb shape near the top of the glass. The curvature traps and maintains a thick, fluffy head, holding the aromatics and directing them toward the nose as you sip. The tapered bottom is thought to prevent sediment or yeast from reaching the mouth of the glass.

Weizen (pronounced vait-sen), is the German word for wheat. As the name suggests, this glass is best suited for wheat beers like hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, American wheat ales, and even gose beers.

12. Stange Glass

Small straight-sided glass filled with light-colored beer with a frothy head

The stange glass is a small, straight glass intended to be served on a round carrying tray called a kranz tray. Originating in Cologne, Germany, the standard stange glass has a small capacity of 6.5 ounces because it is meant to hold light, delicate beers that should be consumed quickly.

Traditionally, as each stange glass on the tray is emptied, a server replenishes them one by one. Today you'll find larger versions of the stange glass that are designed to hold 12 ounces or a full bottle of beer. The stange glass is perfect for light, crisp beers with low carbonation like kolsch beers and altbiers.

Whether you own a taphouse or brewery, using the right glassware to serve your beers will highlight the characteristics that make each style unique. Color, carbonation, and aromatics can all be enhanced by the shape and thickness of the glass. On the other hand, for busy bars or restaurants that have a smaller beer menu, using a multipurpose glass that is easy to clean and store might be the more appropriate choice.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|By Michale LeRoy
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