Recently, I was working on a home improvement project with an old friend. After finishing up we wanted a beer together, so I wandered downstairs to my bar and decided a pale ale would be a good choice. My next question to myself was: What glass to drink from?
Just to let you know I have a fairly large selection of glasses and mugs to pick from. I am that guy. When Christmas comes around and we draw names, whoever draws my name knows in a pinch they can get me a set of glasses, a beer mug or whatever along those lines. (By the way, if you’re looking for gifts for a beer lover, check out my ultimate wish list and practical gift ideas.)
I’ve had an obsession with glasses ever since I was a kid. My dad had a small collection from his time in the service and then from the bars he patronized after he returned home. Back then, most bars would advertise their logo (same as today) and you could pick them up for 2 bits or so (not the same as today). He also had a small collection of Pilsner glasses with the stem base and gold wheat logo. For those into antiques, you might be aware of this particular collector’s item. Anyway, I got a set of these from my father-in-law’s estate when he passed away. I proudly keep them on display above my bar, but rarely do I use them. This past weekend I started to think, “Why don’t I use them?” I must say drinking from this glass brought back many good memories of having a beer with my father-in-law, even though we never used them when he was around.
That night got me thinking about glassware in general. I know there are all kinds of beer glasses and a description of each and what style of beer each should be used for. But where did these different style of glasses come from and why are they matched up to certain beer styles? First, beer style evolved out of what was available to the brew master. Glass style and shape evolved, I assume, from what the glass blower liked to make or again what materials they had on hand. So putting these things together one can only assume that, like beer evolved within a region, glassware did also. Yes, there might be a scientific reason why a tulip stemmed goblet works great for a Belgium monk ale, but I think it is more to do with where it was created. And that get me back to my point. Point, did I have a point? Oh yeah, my point.
A very wise wine server once told me, “the glass you use to drink your wine from is called a wine glass, get over it.” I think the same can be said for beer. But I must stop at plastic cups. I hate drinking good draft beer from plastic cups.
So, what about a point again?
Drinking good beer is done for many reasons. Sometimes we drink to socialize with friends, sometimes to remember old friends, and sometimes just to remember. Remembering when I was a kid looking at my dad’s glass collection hidden away in that cupboard over the refrigerator all covered with dust. And remembering the stories my dad told me about the bars he visited in his day… Diamond Jim Brady’s, the Dakota Inn… These are places I will never be able to see. They are long gone. My point is, good beer is to be enjoyed, not to drink to get drunk. And what better way to enjoy something than by remembering.
Take care and drink wisely,
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