Glass choice makes a big difference for beer drinkers
Now that we’re all beginning to try beer with flavor (hopefully), it’s time to talk about how to properly enjoy said beer. When drinking nearly flavorless lagers, it really doesn’t matter what vessel you’re using to drink from … the bottle/can, a standard “shaker” pint glass, or an old shoe.
But the standard glass that we all know and are used to is about the worst glass one can use for beer. It’s terrible at all three goals a beer glass has: keep the beer cold, keep it carbonated, and hold the aroma in the glass.
Next, the conical, widening form lets the carbonation out as quickly as possible. We all love flat beer, right?
Finally, unless you have a Pinocchio nose, the edge of the glass is too far out from your nose for all the proper aroma-capturing beauty. It’s said that 70% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell … so let’s not discount 70% of the flavor of our brew!
Don’t get me wrong, a standard pint glass is still better than straight from the bottle/can. The drinker gets more aroma than they would otherwise, so if all you have is pint glasses, then use ‘em!
BUT, there is a better choice – the stemmed tulip glass. It has the stem to grab and greatly reduce the hand-to-beer convective heat transfer (thanks, physics class), the bulbous body to hold in the carbonation, and the widened-but-not-gaping mouth to allow for maximum head-retention that’s put right below the nose.
So, when you see a tulip glass, pick it up (I’ve managed to find a few at Savers). 9-out-of-10 drinkers agree: beer tastes better in a tulip than a shaker glass.
Sure, you can just swig your craft beer: it’ll still taste good, but to best unlock the flavors, one needs to study the brew. Thankfully, one doesn’t need a doctorate in zymurgy (the study of making beer) to appreciate a fine beer … just follow these steps:
1. Look at the beer. Appreciate the color and clarity. Cloudy beer isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s usually not ideal unless its a wheat beer.
2. Swirl and sniff it. Give it a gentle swirl to stir up the scent, then take a quick sniff. Don’t go crazy inhaling the head, just get a sense of the aroma.
3. Taste it. Notice how the flavors wash across the tongue, bitter here, sweet there, tangy somewhere else. Pay attention to flavor over time … a complex brew will shift flavors as your tongue gets all the flavor. Note how it feels on the tongue and throat: is it watery? Thick? Syrupy?
4. Note the finish. Does it leave your mouth with a lingering flavor or feeling? How do you like the finish?
Fall River beer places, and packies!
Last column, I wrote about the excellent New Bedford beer joints at Rose Alley and Pour farm, but I gotta tell ya, Fall River features three excellent beer-focused restaurants – Battleship Brewhouse (40 taps), Taphouse Grille (24), and the brand-new Jerry Remy’s (20). All three have good food, with Taphouse Grille and Remy’s being favorite dinner spots of Mrs. Hunting and I, and Battleship having the most variety west of New Bedford.
Of course most local corner stores carry at least a few craft beers by this point, so you can start your craft beer exploration there. If your local packie doesn’t have much worth picking up, try Wines and More in Wareham or Yankee Spirits in Swansea. Both are, quite literally, in old department stores and carry thousands of brews with well-educated employees to help steer you in the right direction. Other excellent choices include the beer-focused Lakeville offerings: Muckey’s Liquors and Tamarack Wine and Spirits, or Lees’ Market in Westport. I’m sure there are more great beer places… feel free to send me an email with suggestions.
Originally published on April 21, 2013