Posted by: Michael | 5 February 2013

From bottle to mouth

In my review of Victory Headwaters Pale Ale, I referred to the so-called (ok, “called by me”) Shaker pint controversy. This is the industry insider / beer geek debate over whether the near-ubiquitous Shaker pint glass ought to be retired in favor of more “appropriate” glassware.

I have mixed feelings about beer glassware. On the one hand, I understand that significant amount of time goes into considering what shape, materials, and other features make the best conveyance for getting beer to your mouth: what makes a glass attractive? What shape ought it take to make sure the best scent gets to your nose? What capacity suggests an appropriate amount for a serving? If I spin around and look at my small glassware collection, I see a fair mix: a ton of straight pints with various logos of breweries and watering holes, the tiny Chimay goblet, the bigass Westmalle goblet, the tulip-shaped Duval goblet, the  extremely odd Hoegaarden (I know, I know) octagon glass, and so on. Especially those tied to a specific brand suggest that their beer ought to be drunk from their glass. In cases where I own the glass, I typically do so (or, if the store I buy the beer from has the glass, I’ll usually get it, too). I don’t get particularly hung up on it, but I’ll use the “proper” glass.

On the other hand, let’s face facts: beer isn’t any fun unless you’re drinking it. That means you need something – anything – to get it from bottle/can to mouth (preferably at a moderate pace and in quantities appropriate to your driving arrangement). Do most people care what the glass looks like? Of course not. Provided it’s clean, most folks don’t care one way or another what glass they use. And in some cases – gasp! – people will even drink it  right out of the bottle or the can! Don’t tell anyone, but I’m doing that now, with a Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale. Two words: hell yes.

            All of this rambling was brought about by a piece I ran across today on Beer Street Journal. It seems Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada have gotten together and created what they consider to be the “perfect” glass for the IPA style. Check out the link to see it.

My thoughts? Scientifically, probably sound. The bowl shape is going to funnel that wonderfully floral, hoppy IPA nose very effectively. The ribbing will indeed aerate the beer , and I know for a fact the laser etching is going to give some fantastic effervescence. Functionally, it’s a fine glass.

But the thing is ugly as sin. Seriously guys, what gives? It looks like a sick mashup of a wine glass and a kid’s ring toss. I could see serving beer in the glass if I owned a Star Trek-theme bar (perish the thought – I’d never name a respectable establishment after The Inferior Franchise), but nowhere else. My friends would laugh at me if I put that down on the counter. And to be honest, I’m not sure beer geeks are going to like it all that much.

All of which is to say we ought to take controversy over “the right glass” with a hefty grain of salt. It’s beer, ladies and gentlemen: enjoy it however you drink it. Let’s not pretend if I drink an IPA out of a straight pint glass the world’s going to come apart at the seams.

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