If you think drinking beer directly out the bottle or a frozen pint glass is a power move, think again. The long neck of a bottle prevents the beer from breathing and releasing any of its aroma, and frozen pint glasses water down your brews and kill their flavor potential.
Just as whiskey is suited for snifters, different beer styles reveal their best selves in the proper glassware—large-rimmed tulips support the foamy head of an aromatic saison, while tall pilsner glasses showcase the carbonation of an effervescent lager.
In many cases, glassware has gradually evolved to fit different types of beer. But sometimes, breweries take matters into their own hands and develop customized vessels for their own creations—both to promote its uniqueness, but also as a savvy branding tool.
From the gold-rimmed Stella chalices to the game-changing “IPA glass” from Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, these famous beer glasses combine eye-catching aesthetics with a little bit of science. Study up so you’ll have some game to drop on your friends next time you belly up to the bar for a cold one.
The Dogfish x Sierra Nevada x Spiegelau “IPA Glass”
To create the ultimate sipping experience for an India pale ale, brewing giants Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman teamed up with glassmaker Spiegelau to create this new-school vessel, custom-made for American-style hop bombs. Peep the nerdy details: It boasts ridges at its base to properly aerate the beer; a concave rim to capture the aroma; a thin body to prolong the cold temperature; and a laser-etched bottom to create a steady stream of bubbles upwards to maintain the IPA’s frothy head and carbonation. The modern IPA is hoppier than anything that ever existed before, so it’s only right that it should get its own glassware.
During the late 1700s in Belgium, the brewer and owner of the De Hoorn inn, Pauwel Kwak, developed this quirky beer holder so that drivers of mail coaches wouldn’t have to leave their horse and precious cargo unattended while they enjoyed a cold one. The wooden holster is designed to keep the beer from spilling during motion. Today, many barflies are confused about how to drink from this contraption. Kwak’s website has a video that shows a gentleman in a top hat on a coach taking the glass off its wooden holder to drink it and then putting it back. We advise you to do the same, since the actual glass cannot stand on its own.
Tripel Karmeliet tulip
Evidently, the Brouwerij Bosteels brewery knows how to pimp out glassware. In addition to the Kwak glass with the wooden stand, it also created this gorgeous tulip glass, emblazoned with a logo boasting the brewery’s birth in 1679, as well as frosted fleur-de-lis etching on it base.
Stella Artois chalice
No one makes a bigger deal of its glass—er, chalice—than Stella Artois. From billboards flaunting the signature gold rim to the creation of a Chalice Symphony, branding is cleary the main event. But there’s more to it than that: The round shape maintains a consistent carbonation and foamy head, while the stem has a groove for the fingers so that you can hold it easily without transferring the heat from your hand to the beer. The bling at the top completes its signature look.
The Duvel Collection
Duvel has turned its glassware into an international art project, letting a group of artists throughout the world—including Eley Kishimoto (England), Parra (Amsterdam), and Daan Stuyven (Belgium)—leave their stamp on the so-called Duvel Collection. The glass itself is quite large and sports the traditional tulip design to help preserve the head and lacing; it also provides room for drinkers to dip their nose in and fully take in the brew’s aroma. The “D” etched on the inside the base enhances lacing and keeps the CO2 in check. The lip curving outwards—a trademark of all tulip glasses—helps deliver the beer directly onto the front of the tongue, where your sweet taste buds are.
The Hobgoblin Ceramic Mug
This cauldron-like mug celebrates the Wychwood Brewery’s fascination with mythical creatures. The legendary hobgoblin is not the cutest mascot out there, but it makes a splash at Halloween parties. This one’s less about science and more about fun branding—a classic piece of British breweriana.
Samuel Adams Glass
Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch says of his brewery’s custom glassware: “We wanted to create a glass that offers beer lovers a full sensory drinking experience by fully showcasing Samuel Adams Boston Lager’s complex balance of malt and hop flavors.” Below is the blueprint for what he believes will step up its lager’s flavor, including a narrow top to sustain the head and thin walls for temperature control. Hey, whatever works.