Types of beer glasses are diverse, ranging in shapes and sizes. Though some may look sleek and on-trend, there are ulterior motives at play. In addition to enhanced aesthetics, the style of beer glass is designed to match the style of beer, working to pull out different aromas and flavors that impact the overall beer-drinking experience.
If you’re new to the beer scene, it’s easy to fall prey to the assumption that a beer glass is just a beer glass. And maybe your business gets along just fine using one standard type. However, if you’re looking to up your beer game and offer guests a memorable experience, the type of beer glass(es) you opt for will make a difference.
A Brief History of Beer: An Introduction to the Best Types of Beer Glasses
Beer has long been a prominent beverage throughout the world, with various historians dating its conception back to some 12,000 years ago. Many credit beer’s origins to hunter-gatherer nomads who settled into agrarian civilizations with crops like wheat, barley, rice, and corn. Though there isn’t one known genius who can take all the credit for its discovery, it’s fun to think of the fermentation process as a happy accident these nomads stumbled upon.
Flash forward to present day and beer is more popular than ever. It wasn’t all that long ago that the beer scene underwent a renaissance, and, as a millennial, I’m happy to share in the credit. Feel free to send me a six-pack as a thank you.
In all seriousness, the 2010s ushered in an explosion of craft beer and microbrews, offering more styles to fit anyone’s preference. At the end of 2018, more than 7,000 breweries were operating in the United States, and independently owned breweries were producing 5% more than they were in 2017.
In the restaurant setting, beer has become an essential component of the overall dining experience, and a robust beer menu is a tried and true way to boost profits. Especially with the trending emphasis on supporting local businesses (tip: consider incorporating a “Local Brews” selection on your beer menu; many guests love to support independent businesses, and they love when businesses support each other). However, it’s not just about the beer itself. Presentation and the tasting experience are critical, and it’s what your valued guests have come to expect on their night out on the town. The type of beer glass used to serve the brew can make a world of difference. As Spiderman’s uncle put it: “With great flavor comes great responsibility.” (Okay, I made that up, but you get the point.)
Setting the Bar: Additional Bar Resources
- The Right Equipment to Build a Better Bar
- Underbar Equipment Solutions
- What You Need to Know About Draft Beer Dispensers
- Craft Beer Glasses: The Best Glass for Each Type of Beer
- Wine Glass Types
- The Definitive Guide to Restaurant Wine Service
- Types of Bar Glasses
- Everything You Should Know About Commercial Drinkware
The amount of beer styles and brands available in today’s market is seemingly limitless, with more developing all the time. As such, beer glassware continues to evolve to fit each style. These are the common categories to note, and within each are an abundance of varying shapes better suited for different styles of beer.
Pint and Pub Glasses
As you may have deduced from the name, pint glasses are designed to hold a pint, or 16 ounces, of beer. They are the most common type of beer glass – a standard amongst restaurants and bars due to their versatility, ease of storage, and generally low(er) replacement cost. If you’re only looking for one set of beer glasses to accommodate all your beer on tap, a good pint glass, sometimes also referred to as mixing glasses, would be the recommendation.
Mixing glasses are one type of pint glass, but it’s important to note that not all pint glasses are mixing glasses. Mixing glasses serve a variety of functions, from serving any kind of beer and other beverages, such as water and soda, to a bartender’s accomplice, used to mix ingredients for elaborate cocktails. These types of glasses traditionally feature straight sides, a wide opening, and tapered down to the bottom. Given their design, they are usually stackable, ideal for areas where space is a limiting factor.
Other styles of pint glasses include the Imperial Pint Glass (sometimes referred to as an Irish Pint Glass), characterized by curve from the middle to the rim, and tapered at the bottom, and its sister glass the Nonic pint (commonly referred to as the English Pint Glass). A wide mouth, straight sides, and a tapered bottom are the predominant features of Nonic Pint Glasses, with the addition of a minor curved notch directly below the rim. This unique presentation adds more character to the beer by separating the foamy head from the rest of the beverage for a fun visual, great for use with stronger, darker or more opaque beers.
Though Irish and English Pub Glasses offer a better presentation than standard mixing glasses, the biggest drawback is that most aren’t as easily stackable, and mechanical shock is a greater issue.
Imperial and Nonic pint glasses sometimes also fall under the category of pub glasses, which is a much broader category that houses generic beer glassware, like pint glasses. However, pint glasses are termed based on their 16-ounce holding capacity, and pub glassware houses a range of capacities to meet various serving needs.
Beer mugs come in varying sizes, including pint-size (again, 16 ounces.) This type of glassware has earned its category based on one distinct difference: a handle. The most significant benefit to a handled glass is it keeps the beer colder for longer. In beer glasses without a handle, the hand wraps around the glass, and body temperature causes the beverage to warm faster. Traditional beer mugs are also constructed with thicker glass, which serves as better insulation to assist in keeping the beer cooler for extended periods.
In addition to easier handling and better temperature retention, mugs are traditionally heavier and sturdier than other types of beer glassware, suited well for large volume establishments. The openings are also wide for efficient guzzling, thus encouraging more rounds.
There are two common types of beer mugs: the tankard and the krug. Tankards are your basic beer mug, featuring a thick bottom with straight sides. Krugs are characterized by a curved appeal from the bottom up to the rim, often with surface dimples that create interesting light refractions for an engaging visual.
Steins are an old-fashioned variation of the beer mug, which are still popular amongst many establishments specializing in an extensive beer selection. Though steins and mugs share many similarities, there are key distinctions. Many stein mugs feature a hinged lid that protects the beverage from debris, and you’re likely to observe more diversity in the material. Instead of traditional glass, many steins are made of silver, stone, and wood – materials better suited for residential use than commercial foodservices.
Pilsner glasses are best reserved for lighter beers (like pilsners, hint the name), wheat beers, lagers, pale ales, and more. The glass design offers optimum head retention and enhances the color, clarity, and carbonation of the brew.
Traditional pilsner glasses are notated by their conical shape. They’re tall, sleek and slender, with straight sides and tapered down to the bottom. Authentic pilsner glasses don’t feature any curvature; however, they are sometimes mistaken with Weizenbier glasses that share many similarities with an additional curve prominent in the glass design. Weizenbier glasses are mostly used for heavy, German-styled wheat beers. They are strategically designed to capture sediment at the bottom of the glass so as not to distort the taste and texture the brewers intended. The curved top of these glasses provides additional room for the large, foamy head, and these glasses do an excellent job of showcasing the exuberant color and bubbles of these styles of beer.
Stemmed Beer Glasses
Like beer mugs, stemmed beer glasses are a great solution if you’re looking to keep your beer colder for longer. As previously noted, one issue with several types of beer glasses is they require users to wrap their hands around them while drinking. This imparts body heat, which warms the beverage, changes the flavor, and alters the experience. Any beer aficionado will tell you this isn’t for the better.
Stemmed beer glasses come in different styles and shape variations, many serving to enhance the plethora aromas and flavors of craft brews. The tulip glass is a common one. Tulip beer glasses feature a wide bowl, flared rim, and curved sides sitting atop a small stem with a foot. They’re best utilized to impart the aromas of specialty beers, especially those with a little extra hop or malt, like IPAs, fruit-inspired brews, tripels, saisons, etc.
Goblets and chalices are other popular types of stemmed glasses that are sometimes used to serve beer, though they also have more versatile dining functions. Many restaurants opt to set their tables with goblets to pour water in as they first seat their guests. Like tulip glasses, chalices and goblets also feature a wide, curved bowl atop a stem; however, the rim is much less pronounced. Therefore, they’re better to serve light beers because they’re less adept at directing unique aromas towards the nose.
Storage can be an issue with stemmed glasses. Therefore, we recommend installing glass racks underneath bars and mounted cabinetry to help save space.
Specialty Beer Glasses
The final umbrella category of beer glassware is specialty beer glasses. These include your fun shapes, customizations, and styles intended to create a unique ambiance and experience for your guests.
One popular novelty beer glass includes the beer boot. Invented in Germany, they certainly liven up the bar. However, they can be a challenge to drink from because air builds in the toes section when tilted, and when it’s set back upright, it rushes to the top, resulting in unwanted splash-back.
Other common types of specialty beer glasses include mason jars, sample glasses and flight paddles (ideal for offering guests a variety of beer – perfect if you brew your own and want to give your guests an opportunity to try several), and glass can tasters.
Many major brewers have designed their own glasses, such as Stella Artois, Sam Adams, and Guinness. Many manufacturers, like Libbey glass, offer glassware customization, granting an opportunity for restaurant and bar owners to put their logo on their glassware, ensuring their brand is always kept front and center.
And don’t forget beer growlers or pitchers. These are essential for bigger parties looking to order enough brew for the entire table.
Libbey has been designing and manufacturing glassware since 1818 and is one of the most prominent brands in tabletop. They also house several popular lines of glass and dinnerware under the Libbey brand.
Their famous Master’s Reserve® line features a vast assortment of beer glasses, wine glasses, and general bar glassware. The complete world-class Master’s Reserve collection is designed with color-free optical purity, balance, and enduring performance. Featuring beadless edges, virtual clarity, and firm, reinforced walls.
The Libbey Spiegelau brand of glassware, made of fine crystal, makes a series of craft beer glasses designed strategically to serve various kinds of beers, including IPAs, Stouts, American Wheat Beer, and Pilsners.
As with Libbey, Arc Cardinal also produces quite a variety of glassware for any need, housing popular brands of quality and endurance. The Arc Cardinal Arcoroc brand recognizes that the rediscovery of certain, old-fashioned drinks is back in fashion. Therefore, they’ve designed an assortment of trendy bar glassware solutions to accommodate, with an emphasis on unique glasses for microbreweries.
Hospitality Brands offers solutions for glassware, barware, and trendy tableware, and as the exclusive distribution partner, they also house several popular brands on the market. In the beer glassware, the most prominent are Nude and Pasabahce.
The trendy Nude and Pasabahce collections of beer glassware are designed to bring a sense of luxury and exclusivity, perfect solutions for the sophisticated bar and dining room that cater to the craft brew scene.
Stolzle brings you fine glassware for those moments of joy, boasting: “Born in fire, shaped by time.” Their high-quality glassware is made of lead-free crystal glass that imparts a brilliant clarity, made from the Lausitz quartz sand.
With an emphasis on trend with mass consumer appeal, Steelite International has developed a range of various beer glassware, featuring unique pilsner glasses and handled mugs, stemmed glasses, tumblers, and more.
International Tableware (ITI)
Chase joined Central Restaurant Products in February 2016 as a Content Specialist, bringing to the role years of various foodservice experience, including front-of-house service (slingin’ chicken wings and libations with a smile on his face) and back-of-house food prep using heavy-duty commercial cooking equipment to prepare for peak dining hours at his university’s dining hall.
He puts this experience to use writing for Central’s Resource Center, website, and print catalog. ServSafe certified, he enjoys educating on food safety in the commercial setting, researching new dining room and tabletop trends, and sharing innovative solutions to enhance operational efficiencies. He also enjoys (in no specific order) long hikes with his dog, bingeing 90s sitcoms, red wine, and live music.