Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Time to Pension off the Nonic?



Unless you are lucky enough to live in West Yorkshire where the tulip glass reigns supreme, when you buy a standard British pint of bitter, you are likely to be served it in a nonic* glass. This 1960's invention elbowed the more traditional dimple glass aside, just as the dimple glass had in its turn pushed out the 12 sided handled glass you see in the old "Beer is Best" adverts from the 1930s. The nonic is now around forty years old, is dated and it shows.


Does the glass from which we drink our beer matter? I reckon so. So do the Belgians and the Germans who always serve beer in the appropriated branded glass according to style and custom. We Brits on the other hand think nothing it seems of serving a pint of cask beer in a cider glass or even a lager glass. So what? It's only a pint of beer is the attitude. Quite a few local brewers have however started to use branded glassware of different shapes. My local brewer Lees, has its unique "grip glass" - love it or hate it - and others have their own glassware, usually straight sided or tulip. But more often than not, you will be served beer in a scraped and worn nonic. It is a sign of "Don't Care".


Another brewer to design its own beer glass is Samuel Adams in the USA. The Ultimate Beer Glass is interesting too and is pictured left. Click on the image to see the reasoning behind it. It shows to me that those who care about beer, care about glassware.

So come on pubs, get rid of this out of date glass, pester your suppliers for decent glassware and ensure your staff serve the beer in the right one. It does make a difference.



*The term nonic is short for "no nicks" as the rims of glasses don't touch in storage, shelves or glasswashers, they don't get "nicks" on the rim.


22 comments:

Erlangernick said...

The Krauts aren't all very uniform on this, certainly not like the Belgians. Except Hefeweizen--that's nearly universally served in a Hefeweizenglas.

Best example that springs to mind is Rauchbier. Look at how the various brewers serve Rauchbier in and around Bamberg. A tulip glass (!) at the Rittmayer Kreuzberger Bierkeller, a glass mug/Krug at Spezial (IIRC), a tall pint glass at Schlenkerla, and elsewhere in a Steinkrug.

I disagree with the Sam Adams idea that thin glass helps to maintain the proper temperature--no it don't! All the rest of the foofery there...just swirl your beer before sniffing and slurping.

Rednev said...

The longevity of the nonik is probably because it can be stacked easily, which makes collecting and storing glasses much simpler. I expect it is also cheaper because of the numbers that are made. Such considerations will probably ensure its continued survival for quite a while. I prefer the tulip, but only because I like its appearance: to me the beer tastes the same as in a nonik. Ultimately I'm not that bothered, although I wouldn't mind seeing whether the perfect beer glass you illustrated really makes a difference.

Jeff Pickthall's Blog said...

Interesting you should mention the old dimpled glasses.

I've lived half my life in South and half in my Northern homelands and I've found that Southerners think dimpled glasses are Northern; Northerners think dimpled glasses are Southern and jibes are directed accordingly.

I'm reminded every time I see Get Carter when Michael Caine asks in a Newcastle pub: "a pint o' bitter ... in a straight glass"

Erlangernick said...

Something I missed before: What do the old 12-sided handled glasses look like? Are the dimpled glasses not also handled? This is a dimple glass, right?
http://gigfy.com/1guinness_mug_new1.jpg

Tyson said...

Hmmm. Not sure about the "Ultimate Beer Glass." Doesn't look too practical-might prove difficult carrying a round.

Tandleman said...

Tyson - do you buy rounds? If so, mine's a Lees Bitter - not in a grip glass though!

Tandleman said...

I don't really care for the Sam Adams glass that much myself, but at least they are thinking about it as are Lees.

bluebirder said...

Could get to like the Adams glass, though just like the Lees, it's another you'd have great difficulty with if attempting the good old 'alifax 'andful - and let's face it who'd be seen dead carrying their drinks back from the bar on a tray!!

Paul Garrard said...

There is nothing nicer than beer being served in its own specific glass. I'm no fan of the nonik. If there has to be a generic glass, and I'm not sure there has to be, I'd favour the straight side glass like Guinness use. For me the glass is all part of the enjoyment/experience of drinking beer. The Adnams glass is pretty good and I'm very fond of the Peroni glass when I order Gran Riserva in a restaurant. My all time favourite is the Westmalle chalice style glass. I would say that it is time to pension off the nonik as this utilitarian object is somewhat at odds with today's "leisure market".

Zak said...

Fill a glass halfway, and the shape of it makes a huge difference to how the aroma is presented (and taste too, but to a lesser degree). If you're going to fill a glass to the brim, it doesn't really impact on the flavour what the shape is.

Spiegelau make a dedicated range of beer glasses, which claim to "enhance the purity of flavour".

I like a half-filled oversized wine glass, which never fails to enrage beer lovers everywhere [runs for cover]

Bailey said...

I think you've hit on something here: the nonic is designed for longevity, which usually means they're old, scratched and dusty looking. Basically, even if they've just come out of an industrial cleaner, they still look dirty. I'm not a big fan. Like Paul, I prefer the straight sided glass for a pint; I'm a fan of the tulip for halves. Because I'm a big girl.

JohnB. said...

Slightly off topic here but Continental brewers' proprietary glasses if you're lucky enough to drink the beer on draught (think de Konnick etc) in the UK causes a problem. The size of that glass bear no relation any UK pub measure: more than a 1/2 less than a pint. The glass is unlikely to be lined so any pour is a guess.
It should come as no surprise that when I've 'borrowed' a glass to check measure (always returned later) that served quantity is usually under volume - the worst by approx.20%.
How did you manage at GBBF?

Tyson said...

John

At GBBF all drinks were served in a lined festival glass. I can't say I've found this to be much of a problem, really. The vast amount of foreign beer in the UK is served in bottles and sometimes draught beer is dispensed in UK glasses anyway. However, I shortly hope to be visiting (perhaps with TM) somewhere that claims to serve a range of world beers in their proper glasses. If they do, I will be watching with interest.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I love Nonics, I wish they were standard here instead of the ugly 'handles' we have, then again at least its not as bad as Australia where pots, and Schooners reign.

Jeff Frane said...

I was intrigued at the idea of Spiegelau beer glasses; I certainly like their approach to wine and spirit glasses. They actually look quite interesting, although I don't buy the idea of serving witbier in a weissbier glass. There's a pdf file with more detail and description, linked from this page:

http://www.spiegelau.com/html/index_usa.html

Tandleman said...

Ideal Kieran. We can ship off all of ours to you guys!
Jeff - Nice glasses. I agree with your witbier comments also.

Erlangernick said...

Er...what's wrong with a wit in a Weizenglas? The standard Hoegaarden tumbler is better?!?

I know people who are very big on the proper beer in the proper glass, but then love it when they see a Yank-brewed pils being served in what amounts to a Kölsch glass...

Jeff Frane said...

Nick, pilsner can be served in a number of appropriate glasses, including those with a superficial resemblance to kolschbier glassware. The important component is that it be tall and proportionately slender, much as a champagne flute is and for the same reasons.

And you know I always love having the opportunity to educate you.

Erlangernick said...

But Spiegelau says that the tulip glass --niether tall, nor slender, yet with a bulbous lower half allowing more aroma to work up and then be focused through the narrow top-- is appropriate for Pils. I see no reason why this glass wouldn't be appropriate for any kind of beer--don't you want to savour a Pils' or a Dunkel's aroma like you do an abbey beer's?

I see no advantage in drinking pils from a tall, narrow glass: There's not as much surface area for the aroma, nor does it focus of the aroma toward your nose like a tulip or a Weizenglas. You can't swirl it around as well. Maybe it looks purty.

And what's wrong with Wit in a Weizenbierglas then?

Jeff Frane said...

No head.

Joel said...

Peter, what;s the problem with a "grip glass?" To me they seem to be a unique way to set JW Lees beer apart. I certainly wouldn't mind having a couple in my collection!

(Howdy to Nick and Jeff! We need to have another Giggyfest!)

Tandleman said...

I don't care for the grip glass personally, but others love it. I just liked the "old" glass better.