Monday, February 22, 2010

I Need Glasses!

Last week, I broke one of my favorite beer glasses.  Luckily, I had a spare (of the favorite).  I  now have three beer glasses (I used to have 5) and this one broke very much the same way the other three did.  Specifically, they succumbed to the dishwasher.

I don't know if it is the high pressure jet spray, the heat, the chemicals in the detergent, or the movement of the glasses when opening or closing the dishwasher that causes beer glasses to break.  I don't have this trouble with other glasses.  I have at least one mason jar liberated from The Blackstone (a bar in my college town) over twenty years ago. (The statute of limitations has expired on this crime, right?  I hope so.)  It has been washed in the dishwasher (and dropped) countless times.

Beer glassware comes in many sizes and shapes.  Many experts will tell you that like wine, a proper shaped glass will enhance your experience of the beer, and the style of beer will dictate which glass is best.  We all know the straight sided pint glass that is common in bars.  It is thick walled and durable (hence for use in bars).  We all can imagine the Guinness advertisements with the billowing stout in the slightly top-heavy curved Guinness glass.  And many of you would recognize the standard English Pint glass with the bumps on the side an inch or so below the glass rim, the massive frothy steins from Oktoberfest in Munich, and the slender or conical curvy glassware of German Pilsners or Wheat beers.

Many European breweries design their glassware for their specific beer, to enhance the flavors and aromas.  You see all kinds of crazy shapes in a Belgian Beer Bar from brandy snifter shaped glasses of all sizes, to fluted champaign type glassware, to crazy glasses with no flat bottom (with a wood holder).  The Boston Beer Company specifically designed a glass for their Sam Adams Boston Lager.  It has all kinds of technically advanced features to enhance the drinking experience.

I have tried the Sam Adams beer glass.  I can't say it did anything specifically for me, but I didn't compare it to a Sam Adams in a simple glass side by side.  Someday, I'd like to try that, but for now, I call this overkill, and most of it bullshit.  I don't like drinking craft beer from a bottle (or especially can), but don't mind drinking cheap American-Style Pilsners this way.  I don't like beer in brandy type snifters (too frilly) or huge heavy-glassed steins.  I don't much like the straight sided bar pint, either.

For me, I am okay with the breweries trying to enhance their product's presentation through the use of innovative or unusual glassware.  It makes it more like an artistic expression (which beer is, I believe).  However, for me, a beer glass is much more a personal expression.  It should feel good in your hand, it doesn't necessarily have to enhance the beer's attributes, but shouldn't create a barrier to drinking, smelling, or experiencing the beer inside.  I like thin-walled glasses that are more vertical than wide (but not too tall) and have some slight curve to them.  I like to think of them as slightly feminine. The thick glass and angular straight sides of a bar pint or the brutality of the mug that could be used as a weapon is the epitome of the masculine glass.  While the buxom beer glasses that are more wine glass, brandy snifter, or tulip shaped that are traditionally used by Belgian Breweries and nascently by craft breweries for their bigger and more aromatic beers are decidedly more feminine.  They remind me of the perception of feminine beauty exhibited in Renaissance Art.  The Sam Adams glass has some of this, too much curve, too many "attributes".

I don't view my glass choice as much of a sexual thing as my last paragraph might suggest.  I view it as more of a practical matter and matter of preference on many levels that fits my philosophy and life style.  I don't want a million specialty glasses that take up a lot of space and resources.  For my beers I have sought a practical glass with elegant style that fits in with many situations.  The little black dress, the comfortable shoe, an all wheel drive sedan, the comfy couch.  As with many things, I like to occupy the middle ground.  Like Goldilocks, I want to find the one that is just right....for me. 

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