The boot. The thistle. The tankard. The stein.
Beer glasses come in all shapes and sizes, but the recent awareness about picking the proper barware isn't just a reaction to clever marketing.
Choosing the right glass for the right style of beer can make a difference, said Taylor Ramos, owner of the venerable Davis Beer Shoppe. As soon as the liquid touches the glass, flavors can become more pronounced or subdued. And those varied vessels some with wide bowls, flared lips or straight edges are selected for a reason; perhaps to diffuse the aromas of a highly alcoholic brew so it doesn't overwhelm the senses, or to concentrate slighter notes so you can enjoy their subtleties.
"A specific design is meant to heighten the experience in some way," Ramos said.
If you're new to the craft beer scene and selecting your first sets of glasses, here's what Ramos recommends:
WHITE WINE GLASS
For Ramos, the most versatile beer glass is actually a wine glass. A white wine glass, with its short stem, slight taper and slight bowl shape, will work for nearly any beer. If you were to buy just one, this is it.
No need to buy the traditional, straight-edged shaker pint glass and the slightly curved Imperial pint glass. Both are meant for the same purpose: to be consumed moderately fast and in moderately large quantities. Good for IPAs, pale ales, porters and stouts.
The shallow, wide bowl is ideal for most strong Belgian ales, particularly quadrupels. When your whole face is surrounded, you'll easily breathe in the alcohol without unpleasant burning. Thick walls keep your hands from warming the beer, and they highlight the beer's pretty color, too.
The tulip's dramatic outward flare is designed for delicate flavors with high levels of alcohol. Duvel, the golden Belgian ale, is served in a tulip glass so its light spiciness can be simultaneously concentrated and diffused along with its 8.5 percent alcoholic content. Choose for other blonde Belgian styles, such as tripels or saisons.
Usually associated with brandy and cognac, the snifter features a wide bottom and narrow top that make it best for complex, rich and highly alcoholic beers. Barley wines, barrel-aged beers and imperial stouts are recommended.
Weizen, meaning wheat in German, is designated for styles brewed with wheat, such as hefeweizens and Belgian whites. The vase shape is mostly for aesthetics, but also to preserve the integrity of the head. The ideal foam-to-beer ratio varies depending on who you ask, but Ramos typically goes for 30 percent head.
Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027. Follow her on Twitter @JanelleBitker.