Beer Lesson: Glasses

September 2011

When we first started drinking beer, we didn’t care whether a weizen or pilsner glass was appropriate. Now, our beer habits are a little more refined, and we’re keen to match craft brews to the right glasses (just take a look at August’s “A Beer for All Seasons”). Below, our guide to drinking vessels.

Pilsner: A tall, slender, tapered glass used to serve light beers, like pilsners (of course) and lagers. The elongated shape allows light to travel through the beer and reveal color and carbonation.

Snifter: This glass, which often does double-duty with brandy, captures the volatiles of aromatic beers (think: barley wines, double IPAs, and casked ales). The bulbous bottom allows you to swirl a beer, much like wine, to release aromas.

Weizen: Traditionally used in Germany to serve wheat or wit beers, this glass is tall, with an hourglass shape. The wide top enhances smells and gives plenty of room for a thick, fluffy head.

Tulip: Aromatic beers like saisons, sour/wild ales, and black IPAs, do well in this stemmed glass with a round bottom (it looks like, you guessed it, a tulip). The top lip flares out to help preserve a strong head.

Pint: The most common glass, the American pint (16 ounce) and British or Imperial pint (20 ounce) comes in two different forms: conical and nonic. A conical glass is easy to produce and stack. The nonic has a small bulge near the top to prevent chips (the word “nonic” is derived from "no nick").