Since it’s International Beer Day, let’s take a moment to reflect on the history of the humble beer glass.
When millions of people were dying of the plague in the 14-century Germany, brewers tacked on a lid to the beer glass to keep deadly flies away. A Belgian brewer in the 1700s fitted a beer glass with a wooden stand so that men in horse carriages could enjoy their drink without spilling it.
All those tweaks over the years have enhanced the value of beer glasses.
Now, a company has designed three glasses that elevate the one thing that is at the core of the beer-drinking experience: taste.
The German glass maker Spiegelau is one of the top winners at this year’s International Design Excellence Award for making glasses that enhance the taste of craft beer. The awards, organised by the Industrial Designers Society of America, chose 81 top winners from more than 1,700 projects.
The glasses are intended for Indian pale ale, stout and American wheat beer — each of which has a unique flavour of its own. According to the creators, the beer-specific glasses convey the complexity of these craft brews to the nose and the tongue.
The shape of the beer glass makes a big difference. When beer bubbles at the top burst, they let out tiny drops that make their way to your nose and arouse you with the scent. A tapered head keeps the aroma intact and the design makes sure that the drinker has to bring her nose closer to the beer.
Spiegelau’s beer glasses share some of those features.
The wave-like wide stem of the pale ale glass, for instance, helps balance flavours. The wheat beer glass, in contrast, has a base designed to push aromatic froth up into the main bowl after every sip. And the “conical” bowl of the stout beer glass enhances the drink’s aroma.
Glasses that exclusively cater to beer lovers are something of a novelty. Wine snobs will tell you what a difference a glass could make. Red wine, for instance, is best had in a designated red wine glass, which is wide enough to let the air soften the wine’s strong flavour.
Beer drinkers, on the other hand, have had to make do with thick pint glasses that kill the much-desired chill and fizz.
“I like to think of the concept of flavour-enhancing beer glasses as similar to making sure you have a good racket whenever you’re playing tennis,” Matt Rutkowski, vice president of Spiegelau USA, told the Washington Post
. “We’re not trying to be snobby, but it’s for people like myself who are passionate about craft beer,” he added.
Check out the Spiegelau glasses here.
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