Saturday, June 5, 2010

Boulevard Brewing and Spiegelau Glassware Dinner

Thursday night Strube and myself (Thomas) went to the beer/glass pairing at Boulevard Brewing here in KC. They had glassware maker Spiegelau out of Germany (the world's oldest glass maker), who is a subsidiary of the Riedel family. As guys who are pretty big into beer, we had read many different articles extolling the use of intended glassware for different beer styles. I don't think that either one of us was wholly convinced of this making a huge difference. This event changed both of our minds completely. We are now both believers in using glassware intended for specific styles. I am going to list a few of the VERY apparent benefits. Then of course, like us, you will be skeptical until you experience these things. So go out and get some correct glassware and have a side-by-side tasting with a generic pint glass!

A few of the benefits...
1. We thought the thin glass would allow the beer to heat up quicker, and that the thicker glass of a pint glass would act as an insulator. Wrong! The thicker glass pulls the cold out of the beer as the glass itself attempts to achieve temperature equilibrium. Within three minutes of tasting the beer after pouring, the temperature difference was quite noticeable, as the thinner glass held beer much cooler than the pint glass.

2. We had never even considered that the quality of the "clear" pint glass would actually distort the actual color of the beer. Generic pint glasses are made from quartz, and to keep the cost of the pint glasses down, the quartz is sourced from low quality mines. These mines are ladened with iron oxide, which is a pollutant to glass giving it a greenish tint. The more iron oxide, the greener the tint. When we looked through the glass at the beers, it was apparent that the pint glass gave the beer a very skewed greenish tint versus the true color of the beer which was seen with the higher quality (less PPM of iron oxide) glass.

3. We obviously knew that pouring a beer into a glass was better than drinking it out of a bottle from an aroma standpoint. We were surprised at the difference between a pint glass and a glass made for a certain style. The biggest difference was with a wheat beer in my opinion. The aromas were there with a pint glass, but only a hint of some fleeting scents were there. With the proper glass you could pick out all of the aromas from the beer very easily, and they were much more concentrated. The aromas were also noticeably more apparent in the tulip style glass. The pilsner glass and the lager glass, a little, but not as obvious as the other two.

4. The higher quality glass has a smoother surface than the jagged surface pint glasses. This was shown under a micron microscope (or something like that). The more jagged glass encouraged fast dissipation of the CO2, which made the beer flatter quicker. With the smooth edges of higher quality glassware, CO2 retention is encouraged.

5. Proper design of the glassware is also important for head retention. This quality is more apparent in the photos below. The head in the pint glass was either non-existent of quickly disappearing. The proper glasses allowed for better head creation and retention.

Thinner glass is better as it keeps the contents colder. Glass made with less iron oxide represents the beers true color without a greenish tint. Proper glass design is important to capture all of the important beer aromas. Microscopically smoother glass design is important to keep the CO2 contained in the beer. Proper glass design is important for head creation and retention.

Thanks to Boulevard and Spiegelau for putting on this great event. It was very enlightening. Hopefully this post will encourage you to try proper glass styles. BUT... if you can't find one at any given time... drink it out of a pint glass cause it's still delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Thomas, my buddies and I also attended the event, and we were all blown away. I had the chance to go to a similar event with Riedel's wine glassware, and once again it the difference was enormous. I heard Boulevard and Spigelau are planning another one for 2011. I'm going back for another set of glassware. BTW, I did see these glasses at Pryde's in Wesport.