Spiegelau is a German-based glass manufacturer that can trace its history back to 1521. In recent years they have been applying this almost five centuries of experience to reinventing the beer glass.
They have currently have four craft beer glasses available: IPA, stout, American wheat / witbier, and barrel-aged. The next one they will be adding to the line-up will be a craft pilsner glass.
Now, I know people some people who still drink their beer straight out of the can/bottle, those who drink everything out of a tumbler, and also people who swear that the style of glass is everything when it comes to beer. I used to think the latter were snobs and I would just drink everything out of a pint glass, but then I discovered the snifter, then the tulip, and now I have a cupboard entirely dedicated to beer glasses.
Spieglau designed each glass in their line-up in collaboration with some of the leading brewers in the United States. This was achieved through a series of design and tasting workshops in which hundreds of possible designs were considered, then the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose, by secret vote, one glass.
Can the shape of your glassware really affect your enjoyment of the beer you are drinking? Let’s find out.
The glass was designed to showcase the complex aromatic profiles of hop-forward American IPAs by preserving a frothy head, while also enhancing the taste and mouthfeel.
I’ve tried drinking IPAs from a stemmed IPA glass before, but saw little benefit. However, this goofy-looking Spieglau glass is a different story. The ribbed texture at the bottom of the glass means that you get a great head every pour, then the beer gets agitated as you drink, which generates fresh head. This is integral with an IPA, because the head as where all of the hop aromatics come from.
I actually managed to break the first one of these I bought and felt a little lost while I waited for another to arrive. IPAs just didn’t taste as good. Now I make sure to have a back-up.
The Spiegelau barrel-aged glass was development in partnership with the brew masters of four of the world’s great producers of Barrel Aged Beer: Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado; Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego, California; Uinta Brewing Company of Salt Lake City, Utah and Cigar City Brewing of Tampa Bay, Florida.
This one is essentially a hybrid of a tulip and a snifter. It has a wide bowl to allow you to swirl the beer and release the complex aromatics, then it tapers in like a Glencairn glass to allow said aromatics to be enhanced and focused on the nose.
I was a little skeptical on this one, as I’ve never had a problem drinking barrel-aged beers from a tulip, but this glass really enhances the experience and allows you pick up all of those beautiful wood and booze notes so much better.
At first glance, this one has an odd design, but it’s actually pretty much perfect for stouts. First, it allows for a clean pour with moderate head, which a stout shouldn’t have too much of. Second, the stemmed part allows heat to transfer from your hand into the beer and bring it up to temperature.
Stouts are often stored too cold, so warming them up really helps to bring out the rich roasted malt, coffee and chocolate notes the style is known for.
American Wheat / Witbier Glass
The Spiegelau american wheat / witbier glass was development in partnership with Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery.
This one has an very interesting shape, in that it’s completely different from the traditional witbier glass. Apparently, the shape was chosen to enhance the faint aromas present in a wheat beer that are typically lost by other styles of glassware.
I found that the large bowl, as opposed to the traditional long shaft, really did help to focus the aromas, while the wide opening also helped to spread the beer across the palate and enhance the mouthfeel.
Well, consider me a convert. These have become my go-to glasses for IPAs, stouts, wheat beers, and barrel-aged beers. Each glass is a vast improvement over the original style and has been expertly crafted to enhance aroma, taste, and mouthfeel.
I’m really looking forward to trying out their pilsner glass and seeing if it is able to improve my perception of that style.
If you are looking to buy these glasses, the best place I’ve found to buy them in Canada is http://www.alambika.ca. You can also find branded versions available from various breweries, including Four Winds.