Recently, glassware has come into the public light more than usual. From articles written by people ignorant to the rich history of the beer culture accusing craft beer of trying to copy wine, to critical beer drinkers who feel some beers are pure propaganda from some of the larger craft breweries.
It’s that very glass from Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada that led me to conducting this experiment. As a beer glassware enthusiast, I was intrigued by the “IPA glass”. Shortly after it’s release I was able to speak with one of the people at the NY unveiling of the glass. Anne Becerra, NY’s first female Certified Cicerone is a highly respected beer connoisseur. I picked her brain and she told me that there was a definite improvement to an IPA drinking from this glass. Recently, an article that quotes her as one of the sources performed a taste test with the IPA glass and a standard pint. The results were all good for the IPA glass except for one person, that person did not like the smell or taste of IPA’s so that made sense.
This IPA glass created some controversy. Early on the hype was met with some backlash that the breweries (mainly DFH) were just being gimmicky for attention. Later, it was found out that this glass produced by Spiegelau used the base design of a glass that already had been made by Riedel as the O Red + White glass. We later learned that it was never denied. Instead, some tweaking to the bowl to cater to the aromas of an IPA is what would make this glass unique.
Controversy aside, if you are a believer that glassware can affect a beer, you could see how the shape of this IPA glass would improve on the standard Shaker Pint.
Shortly after the release, I was given the IPA glass as a gift. I posted a picture of it and it was quickly spotted by Augie Carton of Carton Brewing. He, like I, geeks out over beer and glassware. His immediate response was that this O glass would not stand up to the glass that was being used at Birreria in NY. I took my glass to Carton that weekend and he brought one of the Birreria glasses. Low and behold, the Birreria glass was a Teku Rastal glass. That is one of my favorite glasses and a highly regarded beer glass. We sampled his 077xx DIPA in both glasses. The results were so drastic that I decided to take it up a notch at home.
On to the throwdown! I lined a Standard Shaker Pint, a Teku Glass, a Tulip Glass and the IPA Glass and filled each with my favorite DIPA. Now Heady Topper already has very potent armomas that you can’t mask in the worst of vessels (including the can from which Alchemist Brewing encourages you to drink). The rankings finished as follows:
1. Teku – the aroma and taste developed a complexity that stood out from all the other glasses.
t-2. Tulip – a smooth smell of the hops that hit many different notes. Great swirling and always a great beer glass.
t-2. IPA glass – the only noticeable difference was the aroma lasted longer and seemed to be replenished by the stem. The downside is the the heat transferred from hand to glass. While many beers get better as they warm, that’s not what I look for from an IPA.
3. Shaker Pint – I was surprised that the smell was a lot stronger coming from the pint. That was likely due to to me being able to fit more of my nose/face in the glass. The aroma however pungent was a single not of citrus and what smelled more boozy.
After all is said and done, a great beer is a great beer regardless of the glass, but if you do want to get a bit more out of your beer, glassware can make a major difference.