A Beer Enthusiast’s Guide to Beer Glass Types

Walk into any ol’ grocery or convenience store, and you’re likely to find beers in all sorts of vessels. Glass bottles, aluminum cans, and yes, even the outlandish carton you would usually see used for milk – beer can be purchased in almost every container you can think of. While many of use would gladly crack one of these bad boys open and glug it down without a moment’s pause, these convenience-packaging methods have tainted our concept of beer.

If you consider yourself more than just a casual beer drinker, you probably already know that beer can be just as luxurious, intricate, and rich as expensive liquors and wines. So if you were hoping to get the best of beer’s flavor and feel, it’s important that you use the right glass.

Before you head out to your next pub-hopping session with the guys, make sure you know your beer glasses. Ask the bartender to serve up your booze in the appropriate vessel by reading through and learning more about different beer glasses and what they’re for.

The Classic Shaker Pint

The visual of a glistening golden fluid inside a sleek, tall shaker pint glass might seem familiar and proper, but shaker pints aren’t exactly the idea vessel for beer. They were formerly used to shake cocktails – thus the name – and somewhere down the line, someone decided they would be used for serving beers. The problem with shaker pints is their shape – sleek, straight, and narrow. If you want to enjoy the full experience of guzzling down a delicious craft beer, then a shaker pint might dull it down. The shape releases the fragrance of the beer and fails to really regulate the volume of more expensive stouts, which are best enjoyed in smaller amounts. The only redeeming quality of your classic shaker pint is that it does leave room for quite a bit of head. Luminarc ARC International H6480 Pub Beer Glass, 16-Ounce, Set of 4

The Snifter

Now here’s a classy looking glass that’s perfect for barrel-aged beers. The snifter is a stemmed glass that resembles a wine glass, but has a far shorter silhouette and a larger bowl. Almost globular in shape, the snifter has a wide midsection that tapers down to a slightly out-turned lip. This helps concentrate the fragrance and flavor of the beer, hitting you with more potent tastes and smells once you tilt it up to take a sip.

The snifter was designed to really highlight the different flavors that come with more expensive brews, so the size is relatively smaller than what you would typically see with typical beer glasses. It does have quite a little room for head, but the shape and size doesn’t really allow such a large allocation for too much foam.

Bormioli Rocco Set of 6 Beer Glasses 53 cl

The Beer Mug

The English call the typical beer mug a ‘stein’, and it’s characterized by a thick cylinder of glass with a solid glass handle. Although casual beer drinkers might feel familiarity and pleasure at the sight of a glistening beer mug, they’re not really any different from your average everyday shaker pint.

That said, they’re not ideal for drinking most craft beers, lagers, and stouts, because of the way they tend to dissipate any flavor and fragrance. On the upside, you can get a pretty good frothy layer with a mug. Plus, they’ll look great on your Instagram if you’re into that sort of stuff.

Anchor Hocking Glass 20-oz Beer Mug, Clear, Set of 6

The Tulip

Now here’s a pretty looking glass for you India pale ale lovers out there. The tulip glass looks exactly as its name implies – a tulip shaped vessel perfect for deep, bitter, flavorful ales, lagers, and saisons that are high in carbonation and packed with fragrance. The tulip glass’ elongated bowl leaves a lot of room for an ample serving of drink, but also helps concentrate the flavors and smells with its tapered lip.

Despite the relatively narrower silhouette though, the tulip can accommodate quite a bit of head, making it a great choice for highly carbonated drink choices that might give off a bit of foamy, frothy goodness.

Spiegelau Beer Classics Tulip Glasses, Set of 4, European-Made Lead-Free Crystal, Modern Beer Glasses, Dishwasher Safe, Professional Quality Beer Tulip Glass Gift Set, 15.5 oz

The Pilsner

Anyone who has ever seen a beer advertisement has likely seen a pilsner glass. Resembling your typical shaker pint, the Pilsner glass subtly widens towards the lip instead of being the same width from top to bottom. Of course, as you might expect, such a shape isn’t really ideal for preserving the flavor of beer.

What the Pilsner glass is good for is aesthetic. The subtle form looks great on camera, and that’s actually why it’s used for most ads. They’re great at showcasing the colors of lighter beers and lagers, and they have just enough space up top for a nice little cloudy layer of froth. 

Spiegelau Beer Classics Tall Pilsner Glasses, Set of 4, European-Made Lead-Free Crystal, Modern Beer Glasses, Dishwasher Safe, Professional Quality Pilsner Glass Gift Set, 15 oz

The Weissbier

Here’s a beer glass that’s pretty much considered a specialty glass. Specially designed for German beers, the Weissbier glass features a slim bottom half that gradually widens into a subtly rounded top half. The lips are wide and the glass is pretty tall compared to other similar beer glass silhouettes.

The purpose of the shape is to give you a nice big gulp full of flavor close to the top, concentrating just enough of the scent of your German beer to give you an immersive drinking experience.

Spiegelau Beer Classics Hefeweizen Glasses, Set of 4, European-Made Lead-Free Crystal, Modern Beer Glasses, Dishwasher Safe, Professional Quality Hefe Glass Gift Set, 24.7 oz

The Teku

The Teku beer glass looks almost like a wine-glass from a not-so-distant sci-fi future. The elongated stem gives it the sophistication of your mom’s fancy wine glasses that are only ever brought out when you’re expecting guests. Its bowl – large and wide at the bottom – tapers down to a waist that creates an angular aesthetic. The lip itself is narrow, enveloping your nose and lips as you dip your nozzle into a glass of fine craft beer.

For the most part, the Teku is ideal for specialty craft beers and barrel-aged stouts that might call for a more sensory approach to appreciate the entire experience.

Rastal Teku 3.0 Tulip Craft Beer Glasses - the Original, Non-Nucleated, Glass for Tasting Beer, Italian Made, 14.2ounce, Set of 6 Pack

The Samuel Adams Lager Glass

Jim Koch – the wise guy behind Samuel Adams – designed the Samuel Adams Lager glass which is used widely across different bars and pubs today. So if you’re familiar with classic pub beers, then the Samuel Adams lager glass might not look to unfamiliar.

The specially designed glass has an etched interior base which helps promote carbonation to keep your beer bubbly even way after it’s been poured. The body itself looks a lot like the Weissbier combined with the waist of a Teku. Essentially, all of these minor details help to trap the taste and fragrance so you get the full hit when you glug your beer down.

Samuel'Sam' Adams Boston Lager Sensory Pint Beer Glass 22oz Set of 4

The Can-Shaped Glass

Well, this one’s a bit of a novelty glass. Designed to look like a clear can of beer, the can-shaped glass is a gimmicky little silhouette manufactured by Libbey. They claim that the shape helps to improve the taste and aroma of beer, but it really leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, the straight body and subtle waist make it work more like your typical shaker pint. Sure, the glass looks pretty neat, and it might be a novel experience to drink a beer from a clear can. But at the end of the day, it really does nothing for the actual beer-drinking experience or your satisfaction. JD Glass Co. Glass Can 16 Ounce - 4 Pack

Final Thoughts

Craft beers are becoming well and truly the norm these days so if you want to taste and enjoy these beers then you need to drink them out of the right beer glass. Without the right glass, you’re missing out on all of the flavor and aromas that the beer maker intended. Whatever your choice of beer glass is, be sure it is clean… as a dirty glass will affect the taste. And be sure to serve your beer at the right temperature.