The Quest for the Holy Grain
The Germans say, "Kleider machen Leute." Clothes make the man. So too can your beer be made more enjoyable by drinking it from the correct glass.
Mythology tells us of Procrustes, a scoundrel who had the bad habit of either chopping or stretching his guests to fit his iron bed. Ouch. The Quest advise the beerdrinker not to try to make every beer fit the same glass. Rather, select the correct glass to bring out the best in your chosen beer.
|None of us residing in the Land of Pleasant Living during the 1950's and 1960's will ever forget National Bohemian Beer. Their jingles, cartoon icons, and sponsorship of the Colts and O-rioles were substantial parts of our culture. Natty Boh is no longer made in Baltimore, and the current version, brewed in Wisconsin, may be a shadow of the its former self, but National is still with us, and Mr. Boh is as ubiquitous as ever.|
|Here are two pils-style footed tasting glasses from the 16 Mile Brewing Company in Georgetown, DE. They're filled with 16 Miles's Blues Golden Ale. All three of 16 Mile's beers are fresh, clean, and true-to-style. And their 22-ounce aluminum bottles are classy and cutting edge for providing fresh beer.|
|Hefeweizen glasses come in some of the most unusual shapes. This one comes from Weihenstephan...the world's oldest brewery. It commemorates the 2010 World Cup, although it doesn't come right out and say so. I'm not sure about the shape; is it a soccer (football) player's leg, or his shoe (boot) or what? Anyway, I know what the beer is...good.|
|This .5-L Spatenbrau Maibock mug has a wide mouth that is good for big beers like bocks and the like. It is very substantial and holds nearly 2 12-ounce bottles of beer...in this case, Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock. It is great for tastes that are both bold and delicate.|
|Some of the most interesting glassware in the beer world are hefeweizen glasses; trouble is, most of them hold .5 liters. When you are sitting at home and pour in a 12-oz. bottle of your favorite hefeweizen, there's just too much vacancy to appreciate the full effect. That's why I like this .3-liter Aventinus glass. It has a pleasing shape, is frosted, and holds 12 ounces perfectly, giving you that foamy head that overwhelms the top of the glass.|
|Here's a great beer with a creamy head in a nice little LaChouffe glass. It is not LaChouffe that fills this vessel though, but another Belgian known as Hopus from Brasserie Lefebvre. It is fruity and hoppy with a great mouthfeel...the perfect occupant for this glass.|
|This little gem hails from Otter Creek. It was crafted to showcase their Imperial Series, and was given to me by Adam at the Frisco Grill. At the time of this photo, however, it was temporarily housing a Stevens Point Whole Hog Imperial Pilsner. It can bring out the delicate nature of of a very strong beer such as this one, and does not allow the 8.5% ABV to stand in the way of the citrusy hops and floral aroma.|
This is a Belgian style glass from the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY. It is excellent for holding your lighter Belgian ales such as tripels and saisons. The tapering toward the top provides for excellent head development and retention. We of the Quest believe that a beer only tastes as good as it looks. Not that this Ommegang Hennepin needed any help.
|Tiger Beer...Thailand's best. That may not be saying much, but it will never taste better than it does from this glass. It was accidently pocketed from a bar in Kuala Lumpur, and to this day, lists to the left.|
Is the glass half empty or half full? Stop waxing philosophical and finish the beer already. There's more where that came from! This rotund little pilsner glass is a bit more stumpy than most pilsner glasses, but does curve inward at the top. In this image, it contains Bitburger, which I am in the process of consuming.
|This is a nice, useful tumbler. It fits nicely in the hand, and holds .4 L of beer. Here I have it filled with Abita Andygator, a heller bock and one of my favorites. This style of glass is useful for both lagers and ales. I am uploading this image onto the site at the same moment that I am finishing this delcious beer.|
|Here's a Belgian Troubadour glass that is at once delicate and substantial. It is filled not with a Belgian, however, but with Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA...a bold and well-balanced ale that drinks as well from this vessel as would a Belgian Tripel.|
|This is a .5-liter Krug with an attractive logo that sure looks great filled up with Weihenstephaner Fest Bier. It nestles inside your wrist, from which point you can either sip or guzzle as you choose.|
|This little 330 mL Fraøch glass is great for your stronger beers such as bocks and barley wines. Even Bull Ice tastes smooth and seductive from this diminutive crucible. Look out for the bull...look out for the Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull...|
|An interesting little tulip glass from Bierbrouwerij St. Christoffel in the Netherlands. I loved their blonde ale; was not so enthralled by their bock. But their glass is perfect for a 12-oz. bottle and makes this New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale look and taste great.|
|This type of German glass is known as a Seidel, or at least I think it is. It would be best used for lagers and not out of place with a pilsner. This one at the moment was filled with a good old American lager called Minhas Mountain Crest poured straight from the can.|
|This St. Feuillien goblet is striking in appearance, and brings out the best in this delicious Brooklyn Local 1. This glass is excellent for Belgian-style farmhouse ales or Belgian strong ales. Those crafty Belgians have a different glass for just about every beer.|
|One of my favorite beers in one of my favorite glasses! This vessel is ideal for holding a Belgian Tripel because it showcases the rich body, lively drizzle, and thick head. Urthel hails from Belgium, but the beer in this glass was brewed in Maine by Allagash...for my money, the best tripel brewed in the U.S.|
|Kolsch is a style of wheat ale that originated in Koln, Germany. The traditional Kolsch glass is small and cylindrical and is called a Stange or "stick.". This one is holding .3 liters of Jorger Weisse Bier, as I did not have any true Kolsch nearby at the time of this photo.|
|Sam Adams: maltster, rabble-rouser, brewer, patriot...and now, a designer of beer glasses. The word on the street is that Sam Adams spent over $100,000 in the design of the perfect beer glass. It was designed to hold Sam Adams Boston Lager, but as you can see, will also do justice to a Port Brewing Moonlit Sessions Lager. If you want to help Sam defray some of the cost of producing the ultimate beer glass, visit his site.|
|Here's a .5-liter Belgian glass that contains one of my favorite beers...Unibroue La Fin du Monde. This glass is well suited for a Belgian-style Abbey Tripel as it provides for a thick, long-lasting head. La Fin du Monde is made by our Canadian friends in Quebec, and a fine job they do of it.|
|This is a handy little glass that holds .3 liters or exactly one 12-oz. bottle of beer. It says "Gruitbier" on the glass, but I much preferred filling it with a Church Celestial Gold pilsner.|
|This is one of the several styles of what I refer to as a Euro-lager glass. Others may call it a Pokal or "tulip" glass. It would be suitable for a variety of beers, and it's narrow bottom serves as a focus for a vivacious drizzle streaming up from below. This one was donated to the Quest by a casino, not a half-mile from the castle that inspired Shakespeare's Hamlet. It is filled with my favorite Danish import, Carlsberg Elephant Malt Liquor.|
|This little fireplug shows how they drink their Berliner Kindl down in the Deutsche Hauptstadt. The weissbier is very light and sour there, and to sweeten it up, they add a shot of fruity syrup. All this I am told by reliable sources. It is shown here holding a good old Bavarian hefeweizen.|
|Yet another style of Pilsner glass, this one of the stemmed variety... a style of glass indigenous to hotel lounges of Europe and Asia. This particular one was used to sip room temperature hefeweizen and pils on the rooftop of a small hotel in Dresden. It is pictured here holding an Eku Pils.|
|This is what I'm talkin' about. I finally found a glass for hefeweizen that holds just 330 ml. Still the correct shape to allow for a perfect pour, and just the right capacity when you're draining a 12-oz. bottle|
|Of all styles of beer glass, the Pilsner glass may be the most varied. This one narrows toward the top, allowing for a thick, lasting head. The beer is Angstrom Catonsville's Pils...worthy of a fine German vessel. It is a festive, hoppy, and lustig bier sporting a 6.2% ABV.|
|One method of making a cheap beer taste better is by pouring it into a good glass. At least it can't hurt. This little dortmunder glass holds about 10 oz. and adds class even to this Old Milwaukee Ice beer. It may still taste harsh and corny, but it will be a better harsh and corny.|
|I'm supposed to be good at this...upgrading the taste of a lousy beer by pouring it in a neat glass.
It doesn't always work.
This beer is crappy...period.
But I really like this glass.
|The Belgians like a glass for every beer.
This is a stem glass containing Petrus Dubbel Bruin.
It had an earthy sweetness and was slightly fruity; and it didn't hurt that it was served in its own glass.
|Weizen glasses are among the most unusual in shape.
I don't know if this particular style has a specific name...I just call it the Aventinus glass. These glasses provide for a picturesque pour, with a long column of drizzle and a towering, cumulonimbus head.
It is now filled with Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier, one of the better German hefeweizens readily available in the U.S.
|Snifters, like this little 12-oz. job, are good for barley wines, strong stouts, and other high octane ales. Snifters may hold back the aroma, but this can be released by swirling. Not while it's this full. This snifter is filled with Clipper City Peg Leg Stout.|
|Yet another style of lager glass; this one a slim, nearly straight-sided European. They are suited for a vast variety of Euro-lagers. This one is filled with Kalnapilis, a Lithuanian import and fine example of Baltic beers. Of course, in Baltimore, one place you can drink Lithuanian beer would be at the Lithuanian Hall. While there, try a Baltic porter...they tell me Baltic porter is the only brew of this style which is a lager.|
|This is what's known as an Alt beer glass.
It has straight, parallel sides and is relatively small - .2 liters. Better for bottled beer than draft. Alt beer is an "old" style German ale, moderately hopped with a sweet, malty character.
This particular alt is Alaskan Amber.
|This is a Thirsty Dog Balto Heroic Lager in a lager glass. The style allows for a lasting head, though many weak pale lagers won't cooperate. This one did pretty well.|
|Stem glasses are usually reserved for darker styles like bocks and porters. Here we have the highly-rated Blue Ridge Porter, made in dear old Frederick, MD.|
They tell me that when at Oktoberfest, this is the only size beer you can order. The Germans call it a Maas, meaning a liter. Yes, it's a lot of beer. It holds about three bottles of beer, so it is rather impractical around the house.
This photo features Alpenhof Boomerang Lager poured from a growler.
|We see here an Angstrom Getoff Maibock in a dimpled mug.
This glass should properly be used for heavier beers, such as strong ales and bocks.
At first glance, it may appear a smaller version of the Maas above, but notice that the mouth is wider than the bottom. This allows the aroma of the beer to emerge. Hopefully that's a good thing.
Angstrom Getoff Maibock is a heady nectar, weighing in at 6.7%. It is smooth and balanced, belying its fortitude.
|Hey, you know what's great about this country today? We can unabashedly drink from glasses we wouldn't have been caught dead lifting 20 years ago. This is a German Hefeweizen glass...one of your most distinctive styles. It allows for full head formation and retention. The glass comes from the High Point brewery - a New Jersey outfit specializing in wheat beer. The pictured brew, however, is Franziskaner Dunkel.|
|The shaker glass or pint sleeve has become standard issue for many U.S. bars of the present era.
Shakers are durable, stackable, easy to clean, but probably don't do anything extra for the beer other than make it harder to spill. They're most functional for pale ales and stouts.
This shaker is filled with Backfin Pale Ale, crafted by the now-defunct Clay Pipe Brewery, a small outfit from Westminster, MD.
|In today's serious beer-drinking climate, it seems that stronger, high-octane, high-gravity, complex ales are all the rage.
While this is good, it's nice to occasionally get back to a simple, clear, crisp, well-brewed lager.
That's where Bitburger Pils comes in.
Most German lagers are brewed in accordance with the Rheinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law of 1516. With Bitburger, it's this simple purity that shines through. The glasses pictured must have a name, but I don't know what that would be. They are narrower at the mouth than at the base, which makes for nice head retention. Go on, you barleywiners...dare to drink a lager. Bitte ein Bit.
|The Imperial Pint glass holds 20 oz. as opposed to a regular 16-oz. pint.
You feel like you're getting your money's worth.
There are several different styles, with different curves or no curves at all.
They are great for ales and stouts, such as this Oliver's Blackfriars Stout.
Oliver makes some of Baltimore's best ales which can be enjoyed at Wharf Rat, Pratt St. Ale House, and Ale House Columbia.
In general beer terms, the word "mug" refers to a glass vessel with a handle. A stein, or "krug" is an earthenware mug. Steins seem to keep the beer cooler, but you can't view your brew. Sometimes this is good. Try taking a cheap, rotgut beverage, such as this Nighthawk Malt Liquor and consuming it from a stein. See? Tastes better and almost dignified.
I like this little krug. He holds .25 liters...just a little less than one bottle.
Out of all the Alpenhof beer made in the course of a year, at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, my favorite may be Jack Frost Bock.
Shown here is a footed Pilsener glass filled with Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning...a self-described "Uber-Pils."
Small Craft Warning comes from Baltimore beer magnate Hugh Sisson's line of Heavy Seas beers...bottle-conditioned and representing "our highest expression of the brewer's art."
|BrewFests are fun. You get to travel and enjoy new beer with a bunch of unrelated people who have at least one thing in common. You usually get to take home a sampling glass, in which the beers are doled out in 2 to 5-ounce servings. Pictured are a few of the styles. There are quite a few fests in the Maryland/Pennsylvania area each year. For more information, you might try visiting the Ale Street News, a beer newspaper. Or contact one of the brewpubs that host fests, such as Stoudt's or Appalachian Brewing Company. You can also check out BAM, The Brewer's Association of Maryland, which sponsors numerous beer activities each year.|
Here is another style of Pilsener glass, containing a lager that is no longer one of the Baltimore brewing community's best kept secrets...The Raven. Raven Lager is brewed in Baltimore at the Peabody Heights brewery.
The glass shown is attractive and does justice to the beer, but is a little too delicate for all-purpose consumption.
Here we see a Rogue Seahorse Pale Ale in another style of Imperial Pint glass. The glass fits real nicely into the hand, and holds 20 oz. of beer. It's best suited for ales.
Rogue Ales makes a wide variety of excellent-tasting ales. Questors must beware though...Rogue will sometimes market the same beer under different names. This Seahorse Pale Ale is also known as Rogue Yellow Snow, and now as Pale Rain Ale. This has caused many a Questor to score two different beers only to find out later that he may only document one.
|Now that's a head! This Cisco Summer of Lager looks superb in this straight-sided mug.
Sadly, the superlatives ended there.
The beer was tart to the point of tasting sour...I don't think that was the intended effect.
This one may have been bottle-conditioned too long.
The label said it was brewed for summer; it didn't say which summer.
"Picturing the glass without the beer would be like a Victoria's Secret catalog that showed the outfits without the girls."