Craft Beer: A glass act
WHILE some people may be undecided over whether they prefer their beer out of a can or bottle, most can probably agree that when it comes to drinking it, consuming it from a glass is always best.
I frequently recount a tale of when I was in Bruges many years ago (a wee bit before Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson got up to their dark capers), I asked a barman for a particular beer. He sheepishly looked around him, which I took to be an indication that they had run out of that brew. However, he confessed that he didn't have the specific glass for that beer.
His insistence that he couldn't possibly serve the beer in another glass was an insight into the care that Belgian not only take with their beer but also the vessels which they are served in.
We are more used to getting a pint of stout in the nearest available glass in a pub, which is fair enough when you consider how busy they can be at times but for home drinking, you can improve your experience of some beers with the right glass.
For a start, drinking from a glass allows us to appreciate the look and aroma of a beer, something we'll find hard to do with a bottle or can.
Different beer styles also suit different glass types. A lot of German and Czech beers come with a lot of foam on top, so long thinner glasses allow for the extended head of foam while neatly fitting in all the beer too.
A weizen glass best suits a German weissebier. It's tall enough to accommodate the head and although mostly straight, widens a bit at the top to allow for the aroma to pop out.
For a pilsner, the idea is to show off that vibrant, golden colour so a fluted pilsner glass will do that trick.
Many of the stronger Belgian styles, such as the one that eluded me that day in Bruges, do well in a stemmed tulip glass, especially one that tapers out slightly at the top, allowing for a bit of swirling, sniffing and sipping - given the strength of some of these beers.
Closer to home, we will be familiar with the tulip pint glasses, best seen filled with the black stuff while another pint glass - the shaker - us a much straighter affair and came into the beer drinking world after being used as the other half of Boston cocktail shaker.