Trend: The right glass for every beer

Different glasses for different types of beer
© Mareike Hasenbeck

Glassware manufacturers are playing their part in the growing diversity of new beer styles. At this year’s drinktec, there were more glasses on offer than ever before. Many producers showed off unusual design innovations and set new trends.

Glassware designers and manufacturers are enjoying a rather unexpected amount of attention. With its great diversity, the craft-beer industry is opening up new opportunities to all market participants. Just like with premium wines, drinks such as IPAs, red ales, gueuzes and stouts should be served and enjoyed in the right glasses. As beer experts have long known, the right glass can contribute to the perfect beer-drinking experience in the same way the art of brewing itself does.

Not all glasses are created equal

Traditional beer glasses remain popular and widespread, but they are not interchangeable. Each style of beer can only reveal its complex array of flavors under the right conditions. The shape of the drinking vessel greatly affects how its contents look, smell and taste. Producers and sellers are responding to the new demand. One of the pioneers of the current glassware trend is Sahm. The company, which is based in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Rhineland-Palatinate, now offers more than 400 different shapes in its portfolio and showed off an enormous selection at drinktec. From the newly designed wheat beer glass to elegant, slender pilsner glasses and football-shaped fan glasses, Sahm had plenty to offer, especially for the newer styles of craft beer. Tobias Klein, the company’s head of marketing, emphasized that more and more connoisseurs are placing special importance on the right glass: “The craft beer scene has considerably increased its range of glasses. After all, using the right shape makes a big difference to how beer tastes.”

Developers at Sahm and craft brewers at large are in constant dialogue, sharing ideas on new beer styles and on what sort of glassware they would like to see. The company’s sensory glass is now widely used for tasting new beers and won both the “Red Dot Design Award” and “German Design Award.”

The quest for consumers’ sensory experience

The multi-sensory experience of beer drinking is also important to the Rastal company. Founded by a member of the Sahm family, Rastal specializes in exclusively branded glasses. Its first product was the Bitburger Cup glass for Bitburger, its neighbor in the Eifel region. Rastal worked with Döhler GmbH, a leading producer of food and drink additives, to develop the right shape for the perfect glass of beer. The companies’ novel test design – “Multi-Sensory Revolution” – enables objective, professional data to be gathered on consumers’ sensory experiences.

But which glass goes best with which beer style?

Some tips from the beer sommelier: For less fizzy beers, special glasses that taper toward the top help to concentrate the flavor. These include the “tulip glass,” for example, which is suitable for products such as pilsners or Belgian ales. Varieties such as wheat beer should be drunk from a glass that widens toward the top. This helps the carbon dioxide to circulate. The strength of the glass is also a crucial element. Writing in Brauwelt magazine, wine expert Markus Del Monego, who works with Sahm, laid down the following guidelines: “A thick glass gives the drink a heavy, rustic feel. The thinner the glass, the more elegant and sophisticated the beer tastes.” All these findings have flowed into the modern designs of many drinktec exhibitors and allowed a new trend in beer glasses to emerge.

Innovative, on-trend glassware: trailblazer Sahm at drinktec

Manufacturers like Sahm and other exhibitors at this year’s drinktec are pioneers in this design environment: The “Craftsman” glass by Sahm is a very special product. Its shape is designed to bring out the flavors of a variety of beer types in a number of different ways. Sahm’s promise: “Drinking enjoyment is guaranteed by concentrated channeling of the beer, meaning all parts of the tongue relevant to taste are met at virtually the same time. The typology and balanced character of each beer is emphasized, and a complex, full and simultaneously fresh mouthfeel is produced.” Sahm does not dictate which beer should be consumed from which glass. That is up to every beer connoisseur to decide for themselves.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).