Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In a Glass of Their Own

Click to enlarge.

I know this is a cocktail blog but I probably drink just as much suds as I do the stirred or shaken stuff. By the way, my preference is a cold, crispy pilsner with a pleasant bitter bite but not overly hopped and a clean finish. So this brings me to my point: why do most bars in the US continue to serve all their beer in the ubiquitous pint glass? Go to most bars or restaurants and they have distinguishing glasses for different types of wine and cocktails. Order a cognac and it will likely come in a snifter. Order a whiskey or scotch and it will come in a rocks glass. Order some bubbly and it will show up in a flute. You'll even find different cups for coffee, espresso and cappuccinos.

I'm as excited as the next guy about the booming craft beer industry in the US, as well as our appreciation for well-made international beers. So why are we giving them all the same treatment? Why is my pilsner being served in the same glass as a bock, stout or hefeweizen? And I'm not talking about glasses made for certain beers as a marketing ploy so everyone sees what brand you're drinking. I'm talking about glasses applied to a genre of beer.

My days bartending were spent in Germany in the mid 1990s. Regardless of what you drank there was a different glass for each beer. It didn't matter if you were at a hole in the wall or the Ritz. When looking around a bar in Germany you can distinguish who is drinking a lager, pilsner, stout, kölsch or hefeweizen based on their glass. If a beer comes in the wrong glass it will be sent back. If it wasn't poured right it will be sent back, but that's a whole other blog post.

I understand from a financial and logistical standpoint that pint glasses are more durable than say a hefeweizen or tulip glass (used often for Belgian beers) and easier to store, but if we're showing the world that America is coming of age with its beer lets give our suds the respect they deserve.

The right glass helps a particular beer breathe better, present well and hit your palette in a way that accentuates its flavors and preserves its integrity. Why is a pilsner served in a flute? Because, like sparkling wine, it's quite fizzy and a flute can help maintain a nice frothy head for presentation. A tulip glass helps for many of the same reasons but has a pear-like base to help the beer stay cold and a blooming rim that helps promote the aroma of the many complex beers that come in them.

If brewers in the US and around the world are creating exceptional and complex beers in a class of their own, the last thing we want to do is dumb them down. Lets give them a glass of their own.

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