Monday, 18 June 2012

Glasses. Does it Matter?


One of the sessions I most enjoyed at The European Beer Bloggers Conference was that from Spiegelau, the German glass manufacturer, illustrating to those whose palates aren't entirely made of wood, that beer tastes and smells better out of a decent glass. Now these were particularly decent glasses, being as thin a a youthful beer blogger and unlike them, worth seven quid a pop. (Does that mean a youthful beer blogger is worth seven quid a pop or not?  At least that I'd say. Maybe even a couple of quid more in most cases.) It was an instructive session, not least of all because it fitted in with my way of thinking. Life is so much better when someone who should be in the know confirms your prejudices, though on a serious note, I did feel there were definite differences, one to the other for the same beer. The big bonus was that we were allowed to keep the set.

But of course my undoubted common sense isn't shared by all. I know many who simply don't care, provided that the liquid inside meets with their approval, or who just can't tell the difference. And it is, on the face of it at least, a fair point. Many think my liking for, for instance, a delicate lager in a tall, thin walled glass, is just a pettifogging affectation, but to me  it improves the beer no end.  Does the glass you drink out make the beer taste better or worse? By that I don't mean the minor annoyances (irritating though they are) of getting your pint of bitter in a Bulmer's Cider glass and the like, but when you get a beer that you "know" should be in a better glass and you get it in, for example,  a scratched old nonic, especially if you pay a few bob for said beer.  In my view the standard of glasses in the average British pub is atrocious, though getting slightly better. Problem is of course that when you get some decent glasses in, along comes some light fingered oik and nicks them.  Perhaps if they were more common, they wouldn't?

I wrote about this before, way back when. Have a look at it again and let me know what you think about the glass you drink from.

The Spiegelau glasses (pictured)are very fine and very fragile. They would be no use in a pub situation at all.

25 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

The value of a beer blogger? €3

Glasses? Do you want to eat off tatty plates and drink tea from a stained chipped mug? Presentation enhances the experience of most things. I am unsure whether is affects the taste but them I'm a philistine, but it's nicer innit?

As for nicking glasses, I amuse some and appal others whenever I admit to a penchant for this form of petty thievery, though I've not stopped.

The following is true though, beer is full of cool branding, nice logos, nice glasses. Many people collect brewerania. Some like me simply want to neck a beer at home in the branded glass. Offer a way to pick up stuff legit, and fewer would nick stuff. Nicking is done because people like the beer, like the brand, like the design. You can turn that into money, as much as turn that into theft.

Tandleman said...

It was you I had in mind when I wrote about thievery.

Nate Dawg said...

I think the only type of beer whereby glassware really matters is wheatbeer/weissbier.

I remember going to a pub that will not be named and getting served a pint of Franziskaner (one of my fondest memories from a holiday in Germany) in a nonic pint glass. I was outraged.

Nate
Booze, Beats & Bites
@NateDawg27

Bailey said...

Yeah, it matters.

Bare minimum: a clean glass, free from lipstick marks, scratches and obvious bits of glued-on pork scratching dust.

We're often put off ordering halves by the terrible little tumblers (with no room for a head) that they usually come in. (Hold on -- conspiracy theory developing...)

We're always delighted to be served a half in a glass with a stem. Boak can get away with asking for a 250ml wine glass (ladies' rights), and sometimes does, if the pubs seems friendly enough.

Charlotte Hooson-Sykes said...

A nice glass can add to the ambience, and experienced. And I definitely wouldn't want to drink from something dirty, tatty or scratched.

But sometimes a simple design can add as much as something over branded can detract. It's a balance I guess.

T_i_B said...

I must admit that I do enjoy being served beer in some of the newer stem glasses that the likes of Thornbridge & Magic Rock seem very keen on. A nice does make a small difference.

Anonymous said...

As a consumer and beer geek I definitely prefer beer served in a correctly shaped and/or branded glass as it does enhance the experience. I would hate to drink K├Âlsch from a nonic

Anonymous said...

But as a bartender I really do despair at the people who steal the nice glasses. We only have a limited number & by stealing them customers are denying others the good experience. It's really selfish.

Mark said...

Who usually pays for branded glassware? Does it come from the brewery as a freebie (in return for knowing that their beer will be served in the most suitable glass - and a bit of free advertising), or does the pub have to pay for it?

I always assumed it was a bit of both, but that breweries would usually take the cost.

Alan said...

I find beer glasses are like stereo speakers. I like how 3 or 4 in my cupboard shape the flavours better than others. I particularly don't care for most brewery authorized shapes for particular brands either. Chimay and Orval approved chalices make their beer dull to my taste. There's also a difference between appreciating the glass and what it can do. I like the look of these little German glasses but don't use them much. Who has time to fill 200 ml glassware over and over? I like some US IPAs out of hefe glasses, too. There's isn't correct glasses so much as opportunity to tone down, boost, warp or otherwise shift the beer to your own tastes accordingly to the glass selection.

Phil said...

I always drink Duvel out of a tulip glass for the head, and I do like the look and feel of those German glasses that are about eight feet tall with a heavy foot. And if you're fool enough to order a Kwak in a bar you deserve all you get.

For British beers, though, I'll take a straight glass, and I'd like it as plain as possible please. Noticing the Thornbridge engraving under my fingers, when I'm drinking a pint of same, doesn't make me think "lucky me to be using the right glass" so much as "here's me providing free advertising". (I'll make an exception for the Marble pint glass that simply says "PINT"; that's inspired.)

Cooking Lager said...

Anon: Human nature is selfish, and most scientists would argue that altruism is also selfish. Out of interest, what would your response be if I bought a drink in your bar, then asked whether I could have the glass, offering to, of course, pay for it? Would you decline? Would you sell it to me for an inflated or reasonable price? If I wanted one how would I legitimately get one, not wanting to buy a trade amount? Is it a costly and problematic thing for me to do? Ask yourself why I want one and it comes down to liking either the glass or the brand and wanting a souvenir or a glass to drink out of at home.

When last I asked that question in a British pub I was told I couldn’t have one. When last I asked on a brewery tour in Britain I was given one free. When last I asked in a German pub the barman picked a nice new one, wrapped it up and gave me it free. When I asked on a German brewery tour I was pointed in the direction of the gift shop.

Anonymous said...

I have, in the past, let someone take a glass as a souvenir in return for a small donation to our local hospice charity collection tin. with us it's also a space issue: we don't really have room for lots of different branded glasses, plus as our 9g casks only last a day or so each, we can't always be switching stocks of glassware! But in principle I do agree, the correct glass makes a big difference

Cooking Lager said...

Mark: Pubs buys the glassware. They may get free stuff on promotions that are being run.

RedNev said...

My uncle, who used to be a pub manager in Bootle and Liverpool, gave us nice glasses that the brewery had sent him because, he said, they'd all be nicked the first evening he used them anyway.

Some are embossed with Walker's Ales, including the champagne glasses.

Anonymous said...

critch the brewer.....

cookie we pay for our glasses and hand em out to customers, now the buggers get nicked and the publicans want more so we buy em and give em out......

talk about a rod for your own back!damn good advertising though, even if it is a little pricey.....

coxy said...

To limit my home drinking I started to drink bottled beer out of cut glass wine glasses, and it works ,I sip it more and drink less . Also as a bonus the beer taste better.
Science has proved that visual impact is very important to enjoyment hence very clear beer just seems nicer than slightly cloudy because we have been programmed to think that even if on blind tasting they taste the same. It actually produces endorphines that improve the experience ,something that was proved with an experiment on coca cola. If Gordon Ramsey served his food in the equilavent of the average pub pint glass would people still be prepared to pay high prices for his Fu*king food?

Barm said...

Nothing wrong with a scratched old nonic in the right context. Just like a battered leather jacket is sometimes more comfortable than a suit.

Cooking Lager said...

I've seen pub furniture that has been purposefully aged to give it a worn look. Does anyone age nonics to scratch them and give the theme of a grotty boozer?

Northcote Brewery said...

I think it absolutely matters what glass your beer is served in. It adds to the overall experience. Just like having a chipped glass detracts from it.
I have a favourite glass for drinking bottled beer from at home which is a tulip glass.

RedNev said...

Understandably, pubs won't supply nice glasses that simply get stolen, so there's little point in whingeing about it really, is there?

Curmudgeon said...

The guest beer culture prevalent in the cask ale market tends to militate against the use of branded glasses, of course. In your average pub, it's the lagers that are ahead in the branded glassware stakes.

Kama Life Styles said...

Nice Blog. The written topic is excelent. I've enjoied the topics. I also want to say.. Do you know.. How To Be More Confident? To Know how to be more confident with anything, you should learn.

kuku fashion australia said...

WOW.. Yammi! Fantastic topics. Liked it., Thanks for the nice Blog. This is really Fantastic. Enjoy online fashion shopping with us! We are- Kuku fashion Australia, with Kuku, Kuku dress, kuku dresses, Kuku fashion, Mad Love stockist, mad love fashion, Toi et Moi online, Toi et Moi jacket. Thanks for staying with us.

Daniel Licht said...

Yes, Proper beer glass matter a lot. thanks for great blog. Its fantastic. http://goo.gl/yLKdo2