We're far more interested in what's inside our beer glassware than its design, but that hasn't stopped us from filling up our cabinets with all manner of serving vessels for our favorite libations. In many cases, glassware has developed in tandem with beer styles and drinking particular beers gains an added dimension when you drink the right beer out of the right glass. Though some glass designs have developed only to achieve a certain visual aesthetic there's usually more to the story. Most glassware features specific traits that highlight the unique characteristics of the beer style they were meant to hold.
In Belgium, even bars serving hundreds of different types of beer will only serve a beer in its brand appropriate glassware. The practice makes every drink special, but sometimes seems a bit silly since most breweries favor some variation of the tulip glass. So do we. If we were only able to use one beer glass for all beers this would be our choice.
Whether featuring long stems, short stems, thick stems, or no stems tulip glasses are shaped much like the flower they take their name from. They feature a prominent bowl before tapering at the neck and then billowing out slightly at the top. The bowl shape allows for swirling to release the aroma and the flare at the top both supports a thick head and also allows for slightly easier drinking than a snifter's inward taper.
What it's best for: Showcasing the complex aromas of richly flavored ales. Belgian ales are most typically served in these glasses, but we reach for them when pouring nearly any beer with a rich bouquet.
Credit: Courtesy Spiegelau