Kim Leshinski, founder of Hail To The Ale is a graphic designer, beer judge, homebrewer, event planner, and beer blogger… and somehow, we’ve convinced her to spend some time with us each month to develop a blog series about an often overlooked part of the craft beer experience: glassware. Over the next few month’s she’ll dive into the history, design and style of glassware and teach us all something new about our beer glasses.
Chapter 1: The Beer Drinker’s Visual Guide to Glassware
Have you ever been sitting at a bar and caught yourself admiring the myriad of glassware, each with a different shape and size, each for a different beer on the menu and wonder – does glassware really matter? Having the perfect glass on hand is not a necessity, however for those looking to fully experience the nuances of a particular beer, using style-specific glasses can offer many benefits.
Aroma, taste and mouthfeel are all components of how we experience flavor. Many scientists believe that color and appearance also contribute to our perceptions. Style-specific glassware is designed to support head retention and showcase carbonation and clarity. It also allows the beer to breath, releasing aromatics from the malt, hops and yeast that make each beer unique.
The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) has developed style guidelines that set parameters for color (SRM: Standard Reference Method), bitterness (IBU: International Bitterness Unit) and ABV (Alcohol By Volume). Their website and free iPhone app are a great reference if you’re looking to learn more about beer styles. The Cicerone Certification Program also sells beer styles flashcards on their website for $14.99.
Beer vessels themselves date back centuries, and what may have started as pure functionality, quickly developed into intricate works of art as beer drinkers’ preferences evolved. Early tankards were made of stone, ceramic and various metals until about the mid 19th century when glass became mass produced.
Today, glassware shapes, sizes and thicknesses can all vary to accommodate different needs. Many breweries have developed proprietary glassware in an effort to showcase their beer’s flavors and aromas, but also create a unique, branded experience.
We’ve developed The Beer Glass Guide infographic below as a downloadable, quick reference guide to highlight the historic and artistic significance of 10 iconic beer glasses used throughout the world.
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Over the next few months we’ll be diving deeper into various beer glass styles – from Stella Artois’ gold-rimmed chalice to Moody Tongue’s one-of-a-kind flared pilsner glass. We’ll be sharing stories of how glassware has impacted beer’s sensorial and brand experience.
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