Wine enthusiasts have for a long time, known the importance of glass shape and size in appreciating aroma and flavour.
Now well-educated beer drinkers are starting to discover how glass shape and size change the taste and smell of beer.
Belgians are the greatest beer consumers in the world, even surpassing Germans and Czechs. In Belgium, a small country in size and population, hundreds of craft breweries survive, and compete with one of the largest brewery organizations of the world Interbrew, which also owns Labatt’s among many others in the world.
In this small, but beer-loving nation, many breweries commission glass designers to cerate glasses that coax the best from the beer.
When you enter a Belgian pub you will encounter several distinct glasses. Each beer is served in its proper glass for you appreciate it at its best.
Stella Artois, a premium lager, brewed by Interbrew, tastes better when served in a chalice with a narrow opening to concentrate its distinctive hoppey aroma, and helps keep the dense creamy white head to hold for a long time. The design of the glass makes possible for the beer to flow into the mouth from under the head.
The beer definitely smells much better in this glass than in a regular tumbler.
Wheat beers taste better when served in a thick, clear tumbler. The thickness of the walls keep the beer cold for a long time and allow the natural cloudy appearance to be appreciated. Researchers have been able to trace back wheat beer brewing to 1445 in Germany and today many breweries in Belgium, Canada, and the USA market this style of beer successfully.
When the weather gets warm or hot there is not better thirst quencher than a fine wheat beer laced with a splash of raspberry syrup or woodruff. Belgian wheat beers are also flavoured with coriander and orange peel for an extra taste dimension.
Abbey beers, popular in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy are generally ales. Most exude fine hoppy aromas, and possess a refined full body. Many are bottle conditioned and throw sediment.
Chalice shaped glasses with wide openings reflect Abbey beer aromas best. This shape allows for the bouquet to fully develop and for the liquid to flow easily into the mouth.
Lager beers in general taste fine served in narrow, tulip-shaped glasses holding 300 – 400 ml of liquid.
Ales, particularly British, taste fine in tumbler-shaped glasses holding 350 – 450 ml of liquid. British generally like to drink their beers with very little head (crown) thus the shape of the glass! They are also not fond of excessive carbon dioxide in their beers. It bloats.
All beer glasses must be impeccably clean and free of any grease.
It is also important to serve beer at an appropriate temperature of 6 – 8 C for lagers, 13- 15C for ales.
Beer is sensitive to sunshine and in German beer gardens; waiters/waitresses serve beer in steins with a lid. (Steins are thick earthenware contains that keep beer cold for a long time. They can accommodate 500ml to 1 Litre of liquid). In order to appreciate beer at its best, buy beer in bottles, keep it refrigerated all the time, rest if at least for three days after purchase, and use the appropriate glass.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavour of your beer, increase of pleasant aromas and enjoy it so much more.