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Beer Glass Buying Guide

You wouldn't serve soup on a plate, you don't serve sandwiches in a teacup, and you wouldn't dream of serving a Russian Imperial Stout in a pilsner glass. All right, maybe that last one didn't make quite as much sense as the first two. That's okay; this guide and the video below will boost your beer I.Q. and help you figure out the types of beer glasses you need to serve different types of beer!

How to Choose the Right Beer Glass

Helpful Reminders

  • Remember to keep drinkability in mind, i.e. a beer glass that is designed for sipping strong, malty beers versus a glass designed for healthy gulps of light, refreshing beer.
  • Residual oils, grease, or detergents can subdue the carbonation of a beer, even in small amounts. Check out our cleaning guide to find some tips on how to avoid this by using the proper cleaning tools and chemicals.
  • Brewers are usually proud of the products they produce; don't be afraid to find out information about ingredients, production methods, and serving recommendations for the beers you serve. A little digging will probably leave you with a much better idea about what glassware is optimal for your beers.
  • There are countless varieties of beer and plenty of conflict and overlap with how beers are categorized. Get a sense of what beer glass styles go with what beers, then just have fun creating the visual presentation you think looks best!

Why The Head?

Beer Glasses
The formation of a head of a beer is caused by carbon dioxide bubbles surfacing on the top of the liquid portion of a beer. This CO2 is present either naturally from the fermentation process in the beer's production, or from manual addition to the beer. The head's greatest function is to create a striking visual presentation of a newly poured beer, which establishes a sense of freshness and signifies the kind of beer being served. In addition, the head also traps aromas and flavors that are essential to getting the most out of your beer. Ingredients like malt, barley, hops, wheat, and other grains largely determine the form of the beer head. The type of glassware a beer is served in also plays a large role.

Beer Growlers

Libbey 70216 32 oz. Customizable Amber Growler with Lid - 12/Case
Beer growlers, ceramic, metal, or glass jugs used to transport beer, have become a very popular method of beer sampling. When a beer is on tap, a growler permits the customer to take home a substantial quantity of the brew. Typically made of glass with either a screw-on cap or hinged porcelain gasket cap, beer growlers can keep beers perfectly fresh for more than a week! Growlers effectively transport any type of beer, and are a great investment if customers are looking to take home your brew. Though any type of beer can be put in a growler, they are most often used to transport craft or specialty beers, including ales and lagers.

  • American Adjunct Lager
  • American Double/Imperial Pilsner
  • American/English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • English Brown Ale
  • English Dark Mild Ale
  • English Pale Ale
  • English Pale Mild Ale
  • English Strong Ale
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Staison/Farmhouse Ale
  • Summer Love Ale

Beer Sampler Glasses and Beer Paddles

Anchor Hocking Craft Brews Beer Flight - 6 Glasses with Natural Wood Paddle
Often, you'll find that customers wish to sample several of the delicious beers you have on tap. This is when having a concrete method of beer sampling comes in handy. One of the most popular beer sampling methods is the use of beer sampler glasses and beer paddles, which simultaneously exhibits multiple beers on a wooden paddle for customers to taste. Customers can then sample each from the beer flight and determine which they like best. Obviously, any beer can be put in a sampler glass and placed on a paddle, though fine craft beers are the most popular samples. The types of glasses used for sampling beers are usually, though not always, between the size of a shot glass and a regular beer glass.

  • American Adjunct Lager
  • American Double/Imperial Pilsner
  • American/English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • English Brown Ale
  • English Dark Mild Ale
  • English Pale Ale
  • English Pale Mild Ale
  • English Strong Ale
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Staison/Farmhouse Ale
  • Summer Love Ale

Belgian, Tulip, and Goblet Beer Glasses

Libbey 3807 13 oz. Customizable Belgian Beer Glass - 12/Case
These types of beers boast complex tastes and aromas are often darker and heavier than other varieties. They also tend to have a thick, heavy head, and are often consumed at a slightly slower rate than lighter beers. To protect the rich flavors and aromas, a bulbous, sometimes tulip-shaped glass is ideal. A higher sip to gulp ratio in Belgian beers often requires smaller glass shapes, which lend themselves to more intricate designs like a Belgian glass or a beer goblet.

  • Belgian IPA
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Berliner Weissbier Dubbel
  • Quadrupel (Quad)
  • Tripel
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Barley Wine
  • Abbey Dubbel
  • Abbey Trippel
  • Strong Golden Ale
  • Hyper-Beers

Beer Mugs and Beer Steins

Core 16 oz. Beer Mug - 12/Case
Beer mugs and steins stand out from other types of beer glasses because of the mood they give the beer drinker; their historical use as beer glasses makes them popular souvenirs. The beers that fill these glasses include traditional, medium alcohol-level ales and lagers that are not as filling as heavy stouts or Belgian beers. Although plenty of beers in this category have strong, hoppy attributes, they still have more straightforward, bold tastes. Since there doesn't have to be a focus on retaining understated smells and flavors, glass-shapes can be more simple, open, and cylindrical. These beers are typically served in glasses that are durable, have a large capacity, have handles, and have large openings for sizable gulps.

  • Oktoberfest
  • American/English Brown Ale
  • English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • English Pale Ale
  • American/English Porter
  • American/English Stout
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
  • Herbed/Spiced Beer
  • Irish Dry Stout
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Milk/Sweet Stout
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • American Amber Ale/Lager
  • American Barleywine
  • American Black Ale
  • American Blonde Ale
  • American Dark Wheat Ale
  • American Double / Imperial Stout
  • American Pale Wheat Ale
  • Black & Tan
  • California Common / Steam Beer
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Cream Ale
  • Berliner Weissbier

Pilsner Glasses

Core 16 oz. Pilsner Glass - 12/Case
Beers in this category include low to medium alcohol-level pilsners, ales, and lagers that are light, low on hop flavor, and refreshing. Heads on these beers are deep, but also airy and foamy. Carbonation and sparkling colors should be shown off in a long, slender pilsner glass that highlights the bubbles rising from the bottom to the top. Pilsner glasses typically taper gradually as they reaches the top, lending itself to smooth, easy drinkability.

  • American Adjunct Lager
  • American Amber/Red Lager
  • American Double/Imperial Pilsner
  • American Pale Lager
  • Bock
  • California Common/Steam Beer
  • Czech Pilsner
  • Doppelbock
  • Dortmunder/Export Lager
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Euro Pale Lager
  • Euro Strong Lager
  • German Pilsner
  • Happoshu Japanese Rice Lager
  • Light Lager
  • Low Alcohol Beer
  • Vienna Lager
  • Witbier

Pint, Mixing, and Pub Glasses

Core 16 oz. Pint Glass / Beer Glass - 24/Case
Pint glasses are the most common on the market, serving as an old standby when a versatile glass is needed. The heads on these beers should be small to medium, so the glass-shape need not promote the carbonation. Although plenty of beers in this category have strong, hoppy attributes, they still have more straightforward, bold tastes rather than complex, multi-faceted smells and flavors. These beers should be served in glasses that are durable, have a large capacity, and have large openings for sizable gulps; they can be served in large quantities. Pint glasses may also be called mixing glasses, and can be used to mix drinks too.

  • English Brown Ale
  • English Dark Mild Ale
  • American/English India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • English Pale Ale
  • English Pale Mild Ale
  • English Strong Ale
  • Euro Dark Lager
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Low Alcohol Beer
  • Lighter-end Stout
  • Lighter-end Porter
  • Old Ale
  • Pumpkin Ale American Adjunct Lager
  • American Amber/Red Ale
  • American Black Ale
  • American Blonde Ale
  • American Brown Ale
  • American Dark Wheat Ale
  • American Pale Ale (APA)
  • American Pale Wheat Ale
  • American Strong Ale
  • Black & Tan
  • California Common/Steam Beer
  • Cream Ale

Novely Beer Glasses

Libbey 55444 32 oz. Half Yard of Ale Glass with Stand - 4/Case
The sky is pretty much the limit with specialty and novelty beer glasses. Yard glasses, boots, and other giant glassware are, as you might expect, typically used for serving large quantities of beer (often at special events and parties). Generally, you want to stick with beers that are suitable for consumption in large volumes and that won't have excessively thick heads or overly malty/hoppy flavors. Many of the beers you might serve in mugs, steins, and pint glasses (such as ales, lagers, and pilsners) are your best bets here.

Stemware and Footed Beer Glasses

Libbey 3915 Teardrop 14.75 oz. Customizable Footed Beer Glass - 36/Case
Beers that are best served in footed beer glasses are in the mid to high levels when it comes to color and alcohol content. Flavors of these beers have some depth and fragrance to them, but not intense hoppiness. These beers should have a medium-sized head that still needs a relatively large opening on the top of the glass to accommodate it. Glass shapes that are more slender and tall than standard goblet or snifters work best.

  • Brown Ale
  • American Amber Lager
  • American Lager
  • Fruit Beer
  • Porter
  • Saison
  • Lambic

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