Now that we’ve established that beer should be poured into a glass correctly, the next step is to pair the right beer with the right glass. According to cicerones, the shape of a glass can affect the overall drinking experience including how the beer tastes, what aromas your nose registers and the degree of nucleation, which is a scientific way to say beer foam. For example, a wide-mouthed glass allows beer to flow more directly to the back of the tongue where bitterness registers, whereas narrow and stemmed glasses encourage sipping which is perfect for sour and salty beers that register on the sides and tip of the tongue. Whether you’re a believer in the science or not, here’s a quick A to Z guide on the most common types of beer glasses and what beers pair best with each.
Boot – Often referred to as “das boot”, the boot-shaped beer glass is exactly what it sounds like—a boot-shaped beer glass, made popular at beer festivals and during communal demonstrations of machoism. According to legend, a Prussian general promised his troops that he would drink a beer from his own leather boot in exchange for victory on the battlefield. When his men seized the day and came out victorious, the general commissioned a glass modeled after his boot to spare himself the displeasure of drinking foot-laced beer. From there, the glass gained popularity and over time was melded into Oktoberfest traditions. Das boot eventually made its way to North America thanks to returning World War II soldiers who observed Oktoberfest traditions while stationed in Europe.
Pairing – Märzen/Oktoberfest
Can-shaped Glass – Designed to closely mimic the pleasing contours of a traditional aluminum can while still offering the head-releasing flavor benefits of a glass, the can-shaped glass is the perfect hybrid for those of us that want that tailgating, glass in koozie, beer chugging experience.
Pairing – Anything really
Flute – The flute is traditionally associated with champagne; however, the flute is now used with beer for similar reasons. The stemmed flute glass has a long and narrow body to ensure carbonation doesn't dissipate too quickly, which helps showcase highly carbonated beers after they’re poured. The stem also ensures that body heat transferred from the hand doesn’t compromise the beer’s temperature.
Pairing – American Wild/Sour Ale
Goblet/Chalice – The decorative goblet has a large, head-retaining reservoir connected to a thick stem, whereas chalices tend to have thicker bowl walls. The wide rim of the goblet and chalice promote unrestrained gulps intended to coat the mouth and make beer drinking a full-bodied experience.
Pairing – Belgian Dubbel, Tripel or Quad
Mason Jar – Mason jars are now being used for all sorts of things, like flower bouquets and fancy cocktails, and not just for food storage anymore. Some breweries even use mason jars as their go to beer glasses. Standard mason jars don’t have a handle, but modified versions do, which seem specific to consuming beverages like beer. This seems trendy and may not have lasting power, but we’ll see. For now, don’t be afraid to convert the jars you used to use for home pickling experiments to drink your favorite beers from.
Pairing – American Wheat or Weiss
Mug – Mugs come in various shapes and designs, but the constant is a bulbous reservoir and a thick handle projecting out from one side. Like stemmed beer glasses, the mug’s handle is designed to prevent heat transfer from the hand to the glass, which helps maintain the beer’s temperature throughout the drinking experience. The mug is also the prototypical glass for celebratory cheers-ing, preferably with large groups of friends during Oktoberfest.
Pairing – Lager … lots and lots of Lager
Nucleated – This type of pint glass was scientifically designed to agitate beer from its base with the IPA in mind. It’s wide aroma-releasing bowl and curved top design help maintain the foam at an optimal level when drinking.
Pairing – West Coast Style IPA
Shaker Pint - The most common beer glass is the shaker pint, which isn’t the best but still does the trick. It’s called the shaker pint because it was originally designed to shake cocktails, but at some point, bartenders started serving beer in them. It’s the standard glass you’ll get most American restaurants and bars and should be avoided when possible.
Pairing – Pilsner or Lager
Nonic Pint – Another popular choice is the nonic pint, which has a narrow base that expands out to a wider mouth.
Pairing – Porter
Tulip Pint – Made famous by Guinness, the tulip pint is perfect for dry stouts and any other beer with a creamy head since the hybrid’s design promotes greater head retention.
Pairing – Oatmeal Stout
Pilsner – Tall and narrow, and often with ample volume, the classic pilsner beer glass is designed to highlight a beer’s color, carbonation and foam thanks to the wide mouth.
Pairing – American Pilsner or Hefeweizen
Snifter – A footed glass that’s wide at the bottom and tapers off at the top, it’s no surprise the snifter is often used for brandy and other liquor drinks. This spherical shaped glass brings out a beer’s aroma and is paired best with boozy beers.
Pairing – Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout
Spiegelau IPA – Created by glass manufacturer, Spiegelau, this IPA glass is ribbed for your pleasure. It was designed in collaboration with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Brewing to optimize an IPA’s hoppy aroma and is typically thin enough to help encourage drinking IPAs at the right temperature.
Pairing – Double IPA
Stange – Derived from the German word for “pole”, the stange glass is narrow, straight and cylindrical and is designed to concentrate soft hop and malt aromas and preserve carbonation like the flute. However, unlike the champagne flute, the stange has a thick-bottomed base for more reliable sturdiness.
Pairing – Kolsch or Lambic
Stein – The often ornamental, traditional German or English beer mug made of stoneware, pewter, porcelain, silver, wood or glass, the stein is now usually sold as a souvenir or collectible. In German, “stein” literally means stone; however, the term is rarely used in reference to a beverage container. Steins have open tops or hinged pewter lids with a thumb-lever. History suggests the lid was implemented during the Black Plague to prevent diseased flies from finding their way into beer.
Pairing – English Brown Ale
Stemless – More often used for drinking wine, the stemless glass can be used for beer too to help render the same benefits. The large bowl enhances aromas and resultantly taste.
Pairing – Hazy IPA
Stout – A collaborative effort between glassware company, Spiegelau and brewers, Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales, the stout glass was designed for one beer and one beer alone, stouts. The shape of the stout’s base and angle of the bowl accentuate the roasted malts and notes of rich coffee and chocolate that often define stout beers. The angled shelf and narrow mouth promote head retention too.
Pairing – Stout
Teku – Designed by Baladin Brewery, Italian sensory analyst and craft brewer, the modern teku is easily confused with a futuristic wine glass. This long-stemmed beauty pulls out aromas contained and funneled toward the nose while the stem keeps warm hands off the liquid to maintain the beers temperature.
Pairing – American Wild Ale
Tulip – Similar to the bulbous body of a snifter with lips that flare out at the top of the glass, the slightly narrower tulip retains a beer’s head and accentuates its aromas, the tulip is perfect for IPAs, saisons and wild sours.
Pairing – Farmhouse Ale/Saison
Thistle – Similar to the traditional tulip, the thistle glass has more distinct curves above the stem and at the base of the glass designed to enhance a beer’s aroma while retaining a full, rich head and showing off the beer's color. The thistle is also Scotland’s national flower, which makes it a perfect pair for Scottish ales.
Pairing – Scotch Ale
Weizen – Similar but larger than the pilsner glass, the weizen is a tall glass with a narrow base and walls that flare out slightly then taper back in at the rim. The weizen is designed to highlight voluminous golden pours with the optional cut of citrus slipped on the lip.
Pairing – Wheat or Weizenbocks
Designers aren’t settling on the traditional glassware listed above. Plenty of hybrids are out there from a variety of specialty shops. If you’re interested in making a statement and upping your glassware collection, I suggest you check out Pretentious Beer Glass Company from Nashville, TN who has an online shop on Etsy. Their glasses range from the “Big Sexy” to the “JuicYY”, all and any of which are sure to start conversations and impromptu beer drinking sessions.