Beer is obviously one of the most popular beverages in the world, and yet very few people understand how the shape of the glass can affect the taste of the drink. In particular, most don’t grasp the value of a stemmed glass, but choosing the right one can really improve the drinking experience.
Here’s a quick run-down of the most popular stemmed beer glasses and how they can be used to improve flavours and aromas.
The tulip beer glass, which is sometimes referred to as ‘Belgian’, tapers in at the middle and then flares out again at the top. This serves to maintain the aromas and keep the foamy head at the top of the drink. It’s also a very comfortable glass from which to drink thanks to the distinctive flared rim. Tulip glasses tend to be an ideal choice for serving beers with stronger flavours, including IPAs , barleywines, and Belgian ales.
The chalice, sometimes referred to as the ‘goblet’, incorporates a relatively long stem with a rounded bowl sitting on the top. It’s one of the most striking glasses that can be used for beer, but it boasts more than an attractive appearance. The shape of the bowl ensures continual carbonation of the beverage. A constant swirl of bubbles serves to keep the head stable and creamy, making chalices a good choice for heavier, meltier beers. It’s also ideal for taking big sips.
The snifter looks like a glass you’d expect to be filled with wine instead of beer, and you’ll often see the same design used for brandy and cognac. This is mainly because the shape makes it ideal to circulate the beverage and get some oxygen to it. Though aeration isn’t a process you tend to associate with beer, snifters still hold some advantages. Most importantly, the shape allows for the maximum concentration of volatile organic compounds. It is these compounds that lend a beer its aroma, so snifters should be your glass of choice for strongly aromatic beers.