Which Beer to Put in What Glass?

Learn about the different styles of beers and the types of glasses to serve them in. 

The world of beer is, at once, fascinating and confusing. Many of us have our favorites, but sorting out the differences can be daunting. It is difficult to imagine the many possibilities since they are all made from essentially the same ingredients. This high level primer will point you in the right direction and make some sense of it from types of beers to types of glasses. Of course, there is much more to consider if your curiosity leaves you thirsty for more.

In general, common beers fall into two main columns, lagers and ales. Lagers, which got their start in central Europe, are typically more lightly colored and more mildly flavored. The magic happens by brewing bottom-fermenting yeast at lower temperatures for long periods. Variations of lager are, by far, the most common types of beer found in the U.S. mass market. Common types of lager include bock, pilsner, American pale lager, American dark lager, märzen and doppelbock.

Ales, on the other hand, are distinctively more darkly colored and more robust. These characteristics are developed by brewing top-fermenting yeasts at room temperature. While widely available in the U.S., these beers are perhaps more popular in England where they originated. Common types of ale include Belgian dubbel, India pale ale, stout, brown ale, lambic and porter.

Choosing the right glass to hold your beer may seem unnecessary, but specific vessels are often used to highlight a characteristic of a particular beer. Tall glasses, such as a pilsner or weizen glass, are often the choice for showing off clarity and effervescence, while other glasses, such as some chalices, are designed specifically to keep a foamy head. If you can only choose one glass, a pint glass is the best choice as it strikes a healthy balance between most of the glass characteristics. 

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