I agree with the glass shape debate - the shaker glasses are crap and I hate drinking out of them. Personally, I really enjoy the Imperial Pint glasses, with the little bulge near the top. I don't care if it focuses the aromas, gathers the head,or gets me laid, I really just like it because it feels better in my gorilla-sized hand. Fact.
One thing that sort of blew my mind about glass ware is that many breweries in Belgium have different shaped glasses for each brewery. Fucking nuts man. Some breweries are doing it here, encouraging you to drink your beers out of a tulip glass for all of their beers, so you get the true and intended flavors of the beers. Which kind of goes against my core ideals. I don't want you to tell me how I should enjoy my beer. And it led me to this experiment:
I love sour beers, and I have always been told to drink them from a tulip glass. Some beers I have had this way have been remarkable, others not so much. Some beers I have had in a shaker glass and have been wonderful. So today I decided to start figuring out if different beers from the same brewery would do better in different glasses, in hopes of better enjoying my sour beers when I can afford to drop $20 on one.
My first beer is Consecration from Russian River. Batch 3. Bottled in 12/08. Yeah.
I chose this guy, because I have had it a couple of times before and I never really cared for it. The currant flavors distracted from the sour notes - the thing I really love about sour beers. I thought this would be a good beer to begin my experiment with.
I set up three different shaped glasses - a tulip, what I called a narrow glass (stolen from a tour of the AB plant), and what I called a wide glass.
I filled them all with the same amount of liquid and smelled them all first, then tasted them all cold. After, I went back and smelled/tasted again after giving them time to warm.
The preferred glass for sours. Cold, the aroma was of dark sugars, the currants in this beer really came through, but that's about it. I got no sour or tart aromas, no malt, no oak - nothing of any interest. When I tried some, there was a nice bright acidity and an unexpected fruit-forward-ness, mixed with some of those dark sugar notes from the aroma. The tangy/sour flavors came out, with a light mouthfeel.
As this beer warmed though, some of those nice funky aromas poked their heads out. Still not much in the way of oak or malt. Sipping this beer after a warming period, I got some of the barrel flavors, along with a pleasant jammy note and a moderate booze quality.
Side note to this glass - it had the longest-lasting head of all three. For whatever it's worth.
Smelling this guy, it had a much brighter fruit aroma to it than the tulip glass had. I was even getting some malt notes. No sour/tart aromas though. Cold, it had a firm acidity with more barrel notes than the tulip. The first sip out of this glass was almost puckering - a very strong sour flavor, which made my day. It had some good jammy qualities to it. Just a very pleasant experience.
When it had warmed a bit, there was some funk in the aroma, and the bright fruit only intensified. The flavors changed, too. The puckering sour gave way to a more balanced (and enjoyable) sour/tart combo. I got more barrel tones, and no real booze qualities.
BNA 4 glass. I love these things, and sometimes I do drink sours out of them. Cold, the aromas were of a sweeter fruit than the other two glasses. More plum/tobacco notes than the others, with hints of oak and wine. It had more tart than sour flavors, if that makes any sense. Heavy, heavy fruit/currant flavors on the back-end, and not much else. All-in-all, the most balanced of the three beers.
Warm, this didn't change much. It still had the deeper currant notes to it, but the oak and the sour/tart really balanced out to form this very complex beer. I did get more booze out of it, though, which wasn't all that great.
When all was said and done, I really enjoyed this beer out of the AB glass over the tulip or the wide. I felt that for this particular beer, you should really be focusing on the currant and barrel notes, and the other glasses really didn't combine them for me in a way that was pleasant. Try to get yourself a glass like this and see if I'm crazy or not. I will say that while I was tasting the second glass, I ripped a nasty fart and had to leave the room for a bit. Not saying it interfered with my tastings, just putting it on the record as an unknown factor.
I will say that I'm still not a fan of this beer. I don't like my sour beers to be dark fruit or boozy/hot like this one is, even after three years of aging. Who is it going to piss off when I say that I drank half the bottle in the 20 min it took to do this experiment, and I totally dumped the other half down the drain?
Did this help? Was it interesting? Did it maybe inspire you to try some glassware trials on your own? I hope so. Let me know what you liked, or didn't like in this, and any glassware you want to see tried out.
Tulip glasses should not be the default glass.