When the time for beer strikes do you reach for a favourite glass, take whatever drinking vessel is closest, or make your decision depending on the style of beer about to be enjoyed?
In this country, it used to be the case that the majority of ales were served in a weighty mug, lager in a narrower pint pot, and anything else was reserved for wine or soft drinks. But now, as we’re opening our minds to new and exciting beer flavours from throughout the world, alternatively shaped glasses are appearing behind bars and on coffee tables up and down the land.
If there’s space in your kitchen cabinet for a new glass then you might want to consider what shape best matches the style of beer you drink most often – from those traditional pint glasses for honest British bitters, to tall, slender pieces that showcase the doughy head of German weissbiers.
To help you along a bit, here are ten of our glassware suggestions, each paired with a recommended beer to fill them with.
1. Ravenhead Essentials Dimple Glass: £4.65, Amazon.
The dimpled mug is back. Having been elbowed off the bar shelf by taller, narrower and lighter pint glasses, drinkers are once again reaching out for a sturdy, no-nonsense mug. Lancashire glassmakers Ravenhead produces the archetypal design: thick glass all round, with a large, fist-sized handle and the all-important concave dimples that cause the light to shimmer on whatever booze is contained within. It’s not ideal for steadily sipping a trendy, modern, strong IPA, but if you’re booking in for a real ale session then it’s the perfect choice.
Filling suggestion: A proper British Bitter like Mantle's copper-coloured Cwrw Teifi.
2. Spiegelau IPA Glass: £12.47 for four, Spiegelau
The craft ale movement has brought about a clamour for new glass shapes to best represent the thirsty punter’s trendy ways, and we reckon glassware ace Spiegelau has created the definitive version. This IPA glass is part of a four piece set that includes “barrel aged”, “American wheat” and "stout" alternatives. The glass is thin, light and beautifully balanced, with the ribbed, hollowed out base making it easy to hold while helping to produce foamy white heads that rise and release giddily hoppy aromas. It’s a classy outfit with which to cradle your latest favourite beers.
Filling suggestion: Crack open a modern, hop forward IPA. Like Fallen’s Wonderous Platform C.
3. Weihenstephaner Weissbier Glass: £4.49, Beer Hawk
When properly poured, the beer in a weissbeir glass should fill in a majestic fashion, producing a frothy head that towers above the rim like a rising cottage loaf. Weihenstephaner, the world’s oldest brewery, has created our favourite example of the style, with subtle spiral grooves helping to enliven the beer while adding a sparkle to the gently flowing glass curves. If joining in on a hearty weissbier “prosit”, clink the thick base before upending in confident fashion to drain the vessel.
Filling suggestion: Not only is it the best weissbier glass but you’ll also find Weihenstephaner’s Hefe Weissbier hard to beat.
4. Rose and Grey Glass Beer Tankard: £10.50, Not On The High Street
Glance upwards at the bar of a traditional boozer and you might see a row of assorted tankards and mugs suspended from hooks (or multiple rows if you’re in a busy German beer hall). These will belong to the regulars who find beer nirvana through their favourite jar at every drinking session. This solid glass tankard is worthy of joining the favourites line-up: it’s an artful piece with natural, smooth edges and a thick base for extra sturdiness to prevent unwanted spillage. Just make sure any hooks are strong enough to hold the weight.
Filling suggestion: A pint of the usual, please. Which at the moment is Bath Ales excellent malty bitter Gem.
5. Chimay Chalice Glass: £4.49, Beers of Europe
If you’re a fan of Belgian Trappist ales (and show us a beer fan who isn’t?) then you’ll need a goblet or chalice – proud looking vessels with a wide rim to show off a pristine head and allow for confident sippage. Each of the brewing monasteries has its own take on the style – from the curvacious St Bernardus Watou glass to Westmalle’s elaborate etched bowl – but we’ve gone for the chunky Chimay chalice, a silver-rimmed receptacle with ample depth and a sturdy stem.
Filling suggestion: Chimay Red, a classic Belgian Trappist dubbel.
6. Matalan Belgian Beer Glass: £2, Matalan
The tulip glass (or thistle if you’re Scottish), traditionally used for strong Belgian ales and saisons, has become a popular choice for the new wave of craft ale bars whose staff will pour anything into its curvy contours. We like this bargain offering from Matalan: plump enough to be held below the belly, like a cognac glass, for those wishing to swirl and revel in the beer’s aroma, or gripped in a more orthodox manner for gentle supping.
Filling suggestion: A feisty, frothy-headed saison, such as Twisted Barrel’s The Saison From Another Place will look and smell great in this glass.
7. Dartington Stemmed Beer Glass: £9.98 for two, Amazon
It used to be that Brits would only dare drink from a stemmed glass if it contained a cold lager, sipped while sunning themselves at their favourite holiday bar. But gradually they’ve been infiltrating all types of British drinking territories and even the most traditional drinkers are caving in to their delicate charms. Dartington’s thin walled vessel is like an oversized wine glass: a tall, handsome affair that’s perfect for effervescent beers or slow-sipping stouts, porters and extra strong ales.
Filling suggestion: This glass will show off the dark body and tan head of Left Hand’s Nitro Coffee Porter.
8. Luminarc La Maison Pilsner Glass: £6.19 for four, Amazon
When the good folk of Plzen, Bohemia, brewed the first clear golden pilsner it coincided with the rise in production of new-fangled glass drinking pots – the perfect solution for viewing its glorious looking lager. These bargain La Maison glasses are typical of the contemporary pilsner style (although some will argue that a true pilsner glass has no curves), their narrow bodies perfectly showing off the beer’s clarity while gazing at the bubbles rising to a widening surface – just right for the formation of fluffy white heads and big enough to take in refreshing lagery swigs.
Filling suggestion: Pilsner Urquell, the original pilsner.
9. Paulaner Stein: £14.29, Beer Merchants
Wander into a pub waving this heavy beast while shouting “fill me up” is unlikely to impress the locals, but if you’re looking to recreate the fun of a German beer festival in your own home then a stein will provide some added authenticity. Pauliner’s beers are an Oktoberfest attraction and its mighty one litre glass is built to withstand the most raucous clinking.
Filling suggestion: Paulaner’s Oktoberfest Bier provides a proper taste of Munich at festival time. But you’ll need a few bottles to fill one glass.
10. Ritzenhof Seidel Beer Mug: £19.95, Havens
Here’s something for the glass collectors among you. Each year, Ritzenhof commissions illustrators to provide adornment to its range of glasses, which include weissbier, pilsner and this slender mug. Some of the artwork is a little saucy for this sober column, but we do rather like this jolly monk from 2009, illustrated by Kathrin Stockebrand. Each mug comes with a presentation box and beer mats, but if you’re going to drink from it, rather than collect it, you’ll need to provide the beer.
Filling suggestion: A monastic brew is the obvious choice but we’re suggesting something fun like Pompelmocello, a sour IPA brewed with grapefruit from Siren.
The Verdict: Beer glasses
It may not be suitable for all beer styles but the dimpled mug is a British design classic that deserves its place back in the grip of the nation’s ale drinkers.
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