If you are looking to truly taste your beer, under no circumstances should you ever drink any beer from the can or bottle. Don’t do it. It’s just not right. You spent $11.99 on that 6 pack and you ruin it by drinking it straight from the bottle or can. Be nicer to your beer!
How Do You Know?
I know, you’re not convinced with the “because I say so” argument you may be getting from your beer-geek friends, and I don’t blame you.
Instead of only explaining the experience with subtle terms like “enhance” and “agitate”, let’s go one step further and do an experiment first. Go grab the most delicious beer in your fridge. Take half the beer and pour it into a glass. Place the container next to it. Now you have half a bottle/can of beer and a glass half
Pick up the bottle/can and smell, and then smell the beer out of the glass. Now pinch your nose shut and try the beer out of the glass. Then take a drink straight from the bottle/can without holding your nose. Finally, take one more swig from the glass of beer, but this time don’t plug your nose.
If your taste buds work and you were paying attention, you should have had 3 different experiences, increasingly more flavorful.
But That Didn’t Work
OK, you say that didn’t work for you. Tough crowd. Maybe your palate isn’t that great? Maybe you’re a smoker? Do you eat garlic like it’s chewing gum? Whatever the case, the proof is in the Yingling. Not that Yuengling, I’m talking about my friend Yingling. He’s anosmic.
Anosmia is a medical condition where you’re unable to smell anything, ever. Some people acquire this condition, but Yingling was born with it. He’s never smelled anything, ever. Consequently, he never has any real food cravings. Ask him where he wants to go for lunch and he will just say “You pick, I’ll eat anything”, and he means it.
He taught me that without smell, food and drink are very bland and nearly tasteless. He can taste if something is over-salted, but he will never know just how incredible a Heady Topper is because he just can’t smell it.
Speaking Of Heady Topper
I’m very well aware that one of the best beers in the world right now, Alchemist’s Heady Topper, says right on the can “drink from the can”. I’ve had it a few times and I can tell you that there are three reasons they do this. Number one is that they use widemouth cans, which let significantly more aroma through than a standard can or bottle opening. The second reason is that they use extremely fragrant hops and produce one of the more pungent beers out there. The third and final reason? Their beer is unfiltered. They have some fear that if people see the sediment at the bottom of their beer, it will turn them off.
Hey, I get it. You don’t want to alienate people because they are babies about sediment in their beer. The fact is that the beer tastes great from the can (I can’t deny it!), but it is absolutely better when you pour it.
The Right Cup
There’s a lot of talk about all the new glassware on the market and there are two strongly held beliefs.
- One camp believes that the new glassware is a welcome change and has mostly positive feedback from those who make the purchase.
- The other camp believes that craft beer is becoming too pretentious and snobby and many of them compare it to the wine market where there is literally a different glass for each and every style.
The reality is that opinions are like assholes. The beauty of any object is solely in the eye of the beholder. As an example, here I am, an IPA guy at heart, and if you hand me a Saison, I will tell you it’s a horrible beer. Now that’s not necessarily true. What I really mean to say in that situation is that I don’t prefer it.
Preference Is Key
Preferences predispose us to opinions and if you think the new beer glasses are pretentious, then you will probably not enjoy the experience as much as someone who is open to it.
You can claim that the much contested Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada & Spigleau IPA glass and the glass from Left Hand, Rogue & Spigleau is nothing more than a repurposed Red+White Riedel wine glass. While that’s true, it doesn’t change the fact that it changes the experience of drinking a beer.
What all glassware does is two simple things:
- Agitates and aerates when you pour the beverage in.
- Provides an aroma enhancing effect where (if?) it’s funneling aromas to your nose.
The claim is that they are making adjustments to the bowl of the glass to best enhance the aroma for the beer style. The larger bowl of the stout glass would provide more exposed surface area, therefore releasing more aroma from the beer. The IPA style glass has a narrower bowl, so using the same logic that may be because the hops are much more dank and aromatic than the roasted aromas from stouts, requiring less exposed area.
I’m willing to give them credit for spending hours in a room smelling beer and they decided that particular shape made the beer smell better. I know a lot of people think the whole thing is pure marketing, but I see the potential merit in the individual design.
Just Pour Your Beer Already
We understand if you’re not on board with the new glassware. Not everyone who drinks Bordeaux wine has a Bordeaux specific glass, and they get along just fine. What we can agree on, however, is that no one is drinking their Bordeaux from the bottle.
So. even if you find the new glass styles to be pretentious, please just do yourself a huge favor and pour your beer. Your mouth will thank you for it.
Joel is a craft beer enthusiast, marketer, and inventor.