Any beer connoisseur knows that a great beer is even better out of the right glass. But if you’re not 100% sure if your favorite should be served in a stein or snifter, we can guide you through the types of beer glasses ideally suited to each different brew.
For most of us, our first encounter with beer involved drinking straight out of the can or from a red Solo cup. (Thanks, college).
However, as your beer palate has grown more sophisticated, you no doubt realized that there are several different types of beer glasses, and they’re not all created equal.
And, while some people just grab a glass from the cupboard without any rhyme or reason, real beer aficionados know that each beer glass is designed to enhance a particular brew.
So, if you’re looking to broaden your knowledge and maybe impress your friends, you’re going to want to know what those different types of beer glasses are.
This guide tells you all you need to know about the different types of beer glasses for different brews.
A Brief History of Beer Glasses
Obviously, in beer’s early years, people weren’t drinking from cans or Solo cups. The earliest record of beer in society appears in 1800 B.C., when ancient Sumarians sipped their beer with a straw out of clay pots.
Beer glasses didn’t come along until much later, after the advent of glass bottles. So, how did these early drinkers enjoy their beer?
Until the end of the Victorian era, the majority of people enjoyed their beer in a pewter tankard, a tall metal mug often with a hinged lid. This would help eliminate the bits of sediment that would float in the beer.
No one was crazy about sediment in their beer, however. This lead to people getting better at preparing beers and developing modern filtration methods that produced clearer beers.
In the 1920s, the first beer glass appeared on the market. It was handle-less and sloping-sided. This eventually evolved into the 10-sided handled pint mug by the end of the decade.
Then, in 1938, the dimpled beer mug appeared on the market. After World War II, drinkers wanted a lighter, straighter mug. The dimpled mug was phased out in favor of a new beer mug that featured a bulk about an inch from the top.
This solved the eternal problem of straight mugs, which would always chip whenever people washed them.
After this, many different types of beer glasses started appearing on the market, which we’ll get into next.
Types of Beer Glasses
1. Pint Glass
While there are a variety of different types of pint glasses out there, the American pint glass is arguably the most common.
This type of glass is the classic, used to serve beer in a bar or a restaurant. It has a skinny, cylindrical shape that widens as it goes up. It’s also known as the shaker glass.
Pint glasses typically hold 16 ounces of beer and are great for serving:
There is also an English pint glass, which is commonly referred to as the Nonic glass. This is shaped similarly to the American pint glass, with the addition of a small lip at the top.
The English pint glass can hold 20 ounces of liquid and is often used to serve:
- English ales
Due to the shape of the pint glass, it’s ideal for drinking uncarbonated beers served about room temperature.
Pint glasses are popular with restaurants because they can be stacked inside each other without getting trapped.
2-3. Beer Mugs/Jars
Glass jars/mugs are known for being incredibly sturdy and made from thick glass.
They come with either a smooth or dimpled surface, and their handle helps prevent the beer from warming up while you hold it. Some people believe that the dimpling helps you better appreciate the color of the beer, while others argue that it’s merely decorative.
Their thickness and durability allow you and your friends to “cheers” with these glasses as much as you like without breaking them.
4. Beer Stein
The beer stein and the beer mug are very similar. In fact, they’re so similar that people often confuse them.
While they do have a similar shape, steins come with a hinged lid and a lever so your thumb can open the lid with ease. The word “stein” is short for Steinzeugkrug. This is a German word that means “tankard” or “stoneware jug.”
Additionally, steins tend to be made from a wide variety of materials. You can find glass steins, porcelain steins, wood steins, pewter steins, and silver steins, just to name a few.
Steins were particularly popular in the 16th century, as people believed that the lids helped keep the beer sanitary and prevent the bucolic plague.
And, while steins are still commonly used today, you’ll most often see them being sold as ornamental or souvenir glassware.
Goblets are larger and more extravagant than other types of beer glasses and have a certain medieval flair (think “Game of Thrones” or King Arthur’s court.)
Unlike pints, which hold a specific amount of beer across the board, goblets and chalices can be found in a wide variety of sizes.
Goblets/chalices are characterized by a long, thick stem and a bowl that sits atop the stem.
While the word goblet and chalice are often used interchangeably, chalices tend to have thicker glass walls.
Chalices and goblets are great for people who enjoy drinking:
- Heavy, malty beers
- German Bocks
- Belgian ales
- The blood of their enemies (jk)
7. Pilsner Glass
The pilsner glass is a tall, slender, conical glass that can hold 12 ounces of liquid.
It’s smaller than a pint and often comes in a trumpet shape. It should not come as a surprise that the function of this glass is to capture the golden hues of:
- Pilsner beers
The pilsner glass is incredibly popular in both Europe and America, and it keeps growing in popularity as the years go on.
The only downside to this type of glass is that it typically holds less beer than other types of beer glasses.
The snifter is characterized by a full, rounded bottom surface. This increases the heat transfer from the hand, which in turn helps to warm the beer a bit. Chances are if you’re a brandy or a cognac drinker, you’ve already drunk from a sifter, as this type of glass is often used to server these liquors.
Because the upper part of the glass narrows inward, it enhances the aromatic quality of whatever liquid it holds. Plus, the unique shape of the glass allows you to swirl your beer around like James Bond.
This type of glass is typically used for beers with strong flavors:
- Double IPAs
- Wheat beers
- Fruit beers
- Belgian beers
- Imperial stouts
9. Weizen Glass
Last but not least, we have the Weizen glass.
This glass is originally from Germany and is used to serve wheat beers. It’s narrow at the bottom and slightly wider at the top, which allows you to control the large amounts of foam that typical of Weizen beers.
This is a great choice for people who enjoy drinking:
- Wheat ales
Types of Beer Glasses: Which One Will You Drink From?
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of beer glasses to choose from.
Now, all you need to do is head to a local establishment to try them all out. Be sure to check out our brew menu so you can pick out the perfect beer before coming in.