Do you neck beer straight from the bottle? Or pour it into a tulip glass? Do you prefer a skinny straight-sided glass or a traditional pint glass? I still have a couple of pewter mugs gifted to me through the years on the occasions of various birthdays ... they must have been a thing once.
As I found out recently, how we drink is just as important as what we drink when it comes to beer - and I'm not talking about those ads.
While I love beer and try to have it in a glass whenever possible, I'm quite undiscerning when it comes to choosing just which glass - it's whatever comes out of the cupboard.
But after the session at The Lumsden bar in Newmarket, Auckland, with Luke Nicholas of Epic and Vicky Bouwhuis, from Macvine International Ltd that imports Spiegelau glassware, I now know there is a glass for every beer.
Our less than scientific experiment was predicated on the arrival in New Zealand of the much touted Spiegelau IPA glass - designed in collaboration with American brewing gurus Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada).
The glasses have their converts - Joe Wood of Liberty Brewing is an advocate for the superior drinking pleasure imparted by the glass with the hollow, ribbed stem.
Nicholas, being a super-cynic, and me being a journalist (that is to say a super-cynic) wondered if they were the beer world's equivalent of Powerband bracelets. We sampled some Epic Armageddon in about eight different glasses ranging from water glasses, through white wine, red wine, tulip, pint, schooner ... up to the fancy new IPA glass.
I stand before you today a convert. This glass gives you a better drinking experience. My personal view is that the ribbed stem causes the beer to fizz up every time you lift it to drink, putting a new head on top of the remaining beer that acts like a sealant, keeping it fresher and more aromatic for longer.
There are other aspects like the thin glass keeping the beer colder for longer and a just-right circumference. For hop heads, the sensory experience was improved. As someone at our table said "I've got a musical note in my mouth".
The second best IPA experience came from a wine glass and the worst by far was from an old-fashioned water glass. Things got really weird when we decided to test a "hoppy stout" - i of the Zombie, a collaboration between Epic and 8-Wired that blends Hop Zombie with iStout. It sounds crazy but it's a great brew.
The weird thing was that in the IPA glass the hoppy character of the beer was enhanced and in the ordinary pint glass, for instance, the maltiness of the stout came through. It felt like a trick and Nicholas and I were looking at each other and asking, what the hell was going on?
The glasses were making a difference, but it's probably going to take a physicist to tell us why.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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