I’ve been searching for a decent beer “tasting” glass for some time now, unaware that the answer to my quest lay much closer to home than I thought. For years I’ve been using a classic, straight-sided pint glass, courtesy of local brewers, Larkins. It’s great for volume drinking, but as a glass designed to bring out the best in a beer in terms of appearance, aroma, condition and taste, it leaves a lot to be desired.
|Leffe presentation set|
I knew the answer lay in a “chalice-style” glass, and the obvious place to source one seemed to be Belgium. A work colleague was paying a brief visit to the country back in the summer, so I asked her to look out for a suitable glass for me. To my colleague’s great credit, seeing as she knows next to nothing about beer, she brought me back a presentation gift box, produced by Leffe which not only has two Leffe branded, chalice-style glasses, but also four different bottles of Leffe beer. Most UK drinkers will be familiar with two of the bottles; Blond and Bruin, but also included were two other Leffe beers which I hadn’t come across before; Tripel at 8.5% ABV, and Rituel 9˚at 9.0% ABV.
I haven’t drunk these potent beers yet, but I look forward to doing so, especially as we’re into November now and the mercury has plummeted. More to the point, as far as this post is concerned, I haven’t tried the glasses either! They are perhaps more goblet than chalice, but have an attractive motif, and would grace any bar, or indeed dining table, but the real reason I haven’t made use of them is their wide bowl shape is not conducive to retaining, or indeed concentrating beer aromas.
Having been a participant in a couple of training sessions for CAMRA Beer Tasting Panel members, I know these things, and I therefore knew exactly the type of glass I was after.
After lots of fruitless scouring through various charity shops; an often over-looked but sometimes surprising source of unusual glasses, I had a look on Amazon; again a useful and surprising market place for branded beer glasses. Most of the glasses produced by the well-known Trappist brewers were featured, along with examples from several lesser known Belgian brewers. In a deliberate attempt to make each one stand out they were all subtly different from each other, with two main styles emerging – either chalice type or thistle shape. What I was really after was something in between the two!
|The right glass, at last!|
After I had almost given up, salvation came in the form of the lined half-pint “tasting” glasses, produced for use at our recent CAMRA Beer Festival, at the Spa Valley Railway. Tall and slim, with a reasonably sized bowl above the stem, which tapers inwards, and then out again in a thistle style, so as to form a “trap” which concentrates aroma, and maintains condition within the beer. The glass also holds significantly more than half a pint, making it suitable for beers packaged in the increasingly popular 330ml size bottles.
For the tasting and enjoying of speciality beers, especially the stronger ones, this glass is ideal. But for everyday quaffing, I’ll be sticking with my trusty straight-sided pint glass.