Choosing the right glassware can extend your branding goals.
With the variety of beer glasses available, what will you choose?
Glassware is a vital link in your branding program. Not only does it provide an in-account advertisement with a logo on the side, but it can say a whole lot about your brand. Whether you’re looking for the classic, utilitarian pint glass or for a more elegant option, choosing the right glassware can help extend your branding goals directly into the hands of your end consumers in the on-premise arena.
Glassware comes in all shapes and sizes, but what are their purposes and what can they do for your brewery or cidery? Is a pint glass right for your brand or is a more specific shape a better choice? Maybe a combination of different shapes will work best. We’ll look at six of the most common shapes and discuss the traits of each.
The Pint Glass
The pint glass is the most ubiquitous shape and size in the American beverage scene. It’s cheap, durable (if tempered), stackable, and readily available. Almost every brand uses them. You’ll find them in every bar and restaurant. The shaker pint is everywhere. However, despite its advantages, the shaker pint isn’t the ideal beverage container.
The pint glass is inexpensive to make, easy to store, and easy to drink out of.
The first clue comes in its name: shaker pint. The shaker pint was originally designed as part of a cocktail shaker. However its cheapness, durability, and stackability made it an inexpensive option for other purposes. Soon it came to dominate the drinks world.
One of the bigger advantages is also one of the problems. Repeated stacking of the glass leads to scratches inside and out. Not only does this mar the visual presentation of glass and the liquid in it, but it leaves tiny, hard to clean surfaces where flavor altering bacteria and yeast can thrive. This stackable shape also leads to other drink flavor/aroma issues.
The shaker pint is horrible for head building and retention in beer. The extra wide top spreads out the head over a maximum surface allowing for very quick dissipation. Also, the wide top lets aromas escape quickly. There are a lot of presentation tradeoffs for the classic shaker pint. Jason Yester of Trinity Brewing uses the hashtag #KillThePintGlass, because, in his words, “As an artisanal brewer, it's important to shockingly express a stance against the shaker pint glass as an option for beer. We work hard to make beer beautiful, and our talent needs to be showcased and experienced correctly. We've been open for nearly eight years now and never poured a single beer into a shaker pint at our brewery.
- shaker pints are ugly and nondescript;
- shaker pints are used for soda, water, and virtually everything served at a restaurant/pub, it does nothing to support/elevate your beer; and
- the shape of shaker pints inhibit the performance of any beer served within, being wider at the top of the glass compromises foam and head retention while allowing delicious aromatics to escape.”
One big consideration you’ll run into when purchasing pints is tempered glass vs. non-tempered glass. The tempered option tends to run about 20 percent more than non-tempered, but I’d highly recommend spending the extra. I worked with a supplier who bought a bunch of non-tempered glasses and sold them cheaply through the distributor to a bunch of accounts. They quickly broke. Not only is this a danger to an account’s employees and customers, it’s a hassle that leads to extra time spent cleaning up glass. Those accounts quit buying the cheap glasses and returned to the more expensive tempered glasses.
The Nonic Pint
The nonic pint features a bulge near the top.
The classic nonic shape is most commonly associated with the English imperial pint, although it is available in multiple different volumes. For all intents and purposes, the nonic functions like the standard shaker pint. It’s stackable with all that stacking entails. It’s shape is basically the same as a shaker pints and functions very similarly for head and aroma maintenance. The one difference is the classic bulge near the top. The bulge is designed to make holding the glass easier, which is important after a long session at the local pub! This shape, while not the best for presentation, holds a lot of cultural significance if your brewery or cidery is British themed.
The Tulip Pint
The tulip pint features a flared top.
The tulip pint was made famous by Guinness. It’s traditionally a 20oz imperial pint shape but is available in other sizes as well. Tulip pints mix some of the advantages of a shaker pint with some of the advantages of some of the shapes below. The flared top works better than a shaker pint for head retention but doesn’t interfere with stacking if that is a need for your taproom or customers.
The German Tumbler
The tumbler is easy to drink out of and holds plenty of volume.
The German-style tumbler is very similar to the pint except that the walls turn in towards the top to create a narrowed top. This is a good tradeoff style. You get the size, shape, durability, and ease of use of the pint with a narrower opening that allows for better head and aroma management. It also fits easily into most dishwashing racks.
The Footed Tulip Glass
The footed tulip glass is a popular choice for higher-end pours.
The footed tulip is one of the more popular shapes for higher end pours. Usually in a 12oz, it is used to restrict pour quantities on higher alcohol items or keep price down on higher price per ounce treats. The footed tulip is also extremely good as a presentation piece. The bulb at the bottom holds a nice amount of liquid while the narrowed top allows for good head retention. It’s also good for presenting the aromas of a craft beverage. The shape is good for swirling but the narrowed top keeps the aromas from escaping as easily. It also fits into most dishwasher racks.
The Snifter or Globe
The snifter glass is a popular choice for stouts.
The snifter is similar in shape and use to the tulip glass. The big difference is the top tends to be shorter and the bowl more round. It tends to have a wider, rounder bowl than the tulip and tends to be most popular as a stout or imperial stout receptacle.
Matthew Beason of Six Plates and Mattie B’s Public House was involved in the selection process for the United States Association of Cider Makers when they were looking for an official tasting glass for the Cider Certification Program. They selected the Libbey 3808 snifter as their glass of choice. When I asked Matthew what were the ideal characteristics he looked for, this was his reply: “A wide enough mouth that I am able to get my nose in the glass. A thin enough rim that the liquid rolls off the glass into the mouth. Something light enough that I'm not concerned with the weight of the glass when swirling or agitating the liquid to release aroma and inject oxygen.” He just wishes it came in a thinner rimmed, crystal version.
The Libbey 3808 snifter is the glass of choice for the Cider Certification Program.
There are a lot of choices available to a beverage producer when it comes to glassware. This decision can have a lot of consequences on your brand’s image and how you’re perceived in the market. This can go double for those buying glassware for their taproom as well as for outside accounts. Jason Yester put it best: “I want our choice of glassware to show the consumer our level of attention to detail, and express our passion for our beer from the start of the process to the point of enjoying the beer.”
If you liked reading this article, you may also like: How to Build Your Craft Brewery Brand.