Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Expensive Glassware Conundrum

My feelings on proper glassware are well-documented. I insist on drinking beer from a glass whenever possible. But, we all know glassware can get expensive. There are almost as many varieties of glasses as there are styles of beer. I remember when the Boston Beer Company released their specialty beer glasses, and many drinkers, myself included, balked at the price. Now, the Spiegelau glass makers of Germany have released their "Beer Classics" line, in a sense taking things up a notch:
Throughout the world, there is a fast growing range of different beers just waiting to be discovered. In order to get most out of the characteristics of beer (appearance, aroma, taste, finish) it is essential to choose the right glass. To cover all these aspects, we at Spiegelau used our expertise and 500 years experience in making crystal to develop three elegant, especially thin blown beer glasses matching the world‘s most common beer styles.

I certainly agree with those first two sentences. The new glass designs include a 14 oz. stemmed glass recommended for Belgian-style beers and pilsners, a 16 oz. footed glass for general lagers and ales, and a 17.5 oz glass for wheat beers. These glasses come in sets of two in a unique tube package. And, they sell for about $15.00 per glass. That's a lot of beer that could be had for the money one would spend to acquire a set of two in each style. How much is too much? Fine glassware for wines is not uncommon, and we often lament that beer doesn't seem to merit same respect that wine receives. I am sure this is very nice glassware and I certainly wouldn't mind adding these to my assemblage. Though I wonder if the apparent trend towards pricey beer glasses is the sort of equality we hoped for. However, if high-end glassware causes folks to sit up and take notice, then I'm all for it.

A color brochure for the new glass line can be found here.


  1. Fine glassware is fine until one somehow manages to end up in a hundred pieces. Being pour-litically correct doesn/t have to be expensive...unless you want it to be.


  2. OK, I'll admit I'm mostly prompted to post because it increases my odds of winning the DVD.

    But seriously, I am somewhat of a fan of the fancyish yet fairly affordable glasses Sam Adams came out with last year(?). Maybe I'm convinced by all the science they claim to have put into the design, but they are satisfying to hold and drink from, whether or not the beer actually tastes better.

    Another glass note, the special Riedel snifter that came with last years Utopias (I'm not a Sam Adams shill, really, I swear) was kind of nice. From one of their press releases:

    "In April 2007 Georg Riedel joined Jim Koch at the Samuel Adams Boston brewery for a special tasting panel. Several flights of Samuel Adams Utopias were sampled from many different glass shapes to determine which attributes would best highlight the aromas and flavors of the unique brew. The end result is a custom-designed glass that best expresses the essential characteristics of Samuel Adams Utopias.

    The curved, cut-glass rim of the snifter allows Samuel Adams Utopias to be placed on the front of the tongue, ensuring that drinkers properly taste the sweetness of the brew first. This also helps balance the alcohol taste. The shape of the bowl is taller than a typical snifter glass, which allows for the combining of the layers of alcohol and concentration of the aromas."

    So maybe there's something to all of this...sorry for such a long comment.

  3. I actually like the Utopias snifter for Irish whiskey, too.

    (And I already have the DVD, so I don't wanna win it!)

  4. MarcT, Lew,

    The Utopias snifter is somewhat unusual, but I do find a snifter to be an excellent all around beer glass. It's especially good for "bigger" beers. Those distilled beverage folks are on to something. :-)

  5. After reading about the new Sam Adams glasses (I'm drinking from one right now) I thought about buying some, then forgot. About 6 weeks later, a package appeared on my doorstep with TWO of the new glasses in it. I thought to myself "was I drunk and ordered them?" No, it was Jim Koch himself who sent them. Two of the glasses went to each member of the American Homebrew Association just because we appreciate good beer.

    Aside from the other great things he's done this year (such as his selling off excess hops at HIS price, not market, to other craft breweries), this just goes to show how committed he is to beer. And no, I am not a Sam Adams shill either.

    I must agree with the thought that beer needs good glassware, just as wine does. Look at any beer bar in Belgium, for example.


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