The craft beer movement has exploded over the past decade. Along with learning new acronyms, trying new flavours, and getting excited about brewery collaborations, beer drinkers have become more discerning about how they serve their beers. With breweries investing as much time and detail into their craft brews as any winery, decadent wine-esque dining scenarios have become more prevalent: beer degustations, food and beer matching, and style-specific beer glassware.
This shift has coincided with the growing understanding that every style of beer has its own delicate balance of characteristics and, from our research, we have learned that how you drink your beer can have a huge impact on your perception of its aromas and flavours.
What classifies “Craft Beer”?
Generally speaking, Craft Beer is brewed in small quantities rather than mass-produced, using higher quality ingredients. The term “craft beer” is designed to indicate the brewer’s aspirations and their high level of craftsmanship, and the most popular craft beer styles worldwide are India Pale Ale (IPA), and Stout or Porter.
The official definition of “Craft Beer” changes depending on what part of the world you are in. In Australia, the Independent Brewers Association (previously Craft Beer Industry Association) had classed a craft brewer as one who produces less than 40 million litres of beer per annum. They have now renamed them “Independent Brewers”, further dictating that they also cannot own more than a 20 per cent share of a brewery with aggregate beer sales of 40M+ litres per calendar year. According to their records, Australia welcomes a new independent brewery every six days, with over 600 nationally!
This boom has brought with it a much better educated beer drinker, to the extent that breweries can now register for a “Certified Independent” seal that legitimises their products to discerning beer lovers. If you’re still sipping your expertly designed craft brew straight from the bottle or can, here’s a breakdown of what you’re missing out on.
The majority of flavour comes from aroma
It seems astounding but around 70 per cent of your perception of flavour in food and drink is thanks to your sense of smell. This is one of the reasons eating is so dull when you have a blocked nose. So drinking your beer from the bottle or can means you’re missing out on most of what it has to offer.
Spiegelau’s Craft Beer glasses have been designed to provide you with a perfectly layered aromatic profile, with space for both a frothy head as well as room above the surface of your beer so you can stick your nose right in and have a good smell. The right glass will allow your favourite beer to shine, whether it’s a crisp refreshing lager or a complex perfumed IPA.
Your beer’s head is full of tasty secrets
The head on your beer acts as both a trap and an amplifier for what are known as “volatiles” in your brew. Volatiles are a complex array of chemicals that begin evaporating as soon as you crack open a bottle or pull that tab. They include hop alpha acids, fruity esters, yeast fermentation by-products, and any flavour additions to the brew like spices. A well-designed glass produced in high quality crystal will encourage the beer to maintain a thick, creamy head as you drink – not just for the first few mouthfuls.
Temperature is key
Temperature affects flavour components in beer differently: malt characters become weaker when cooler, but hops are not affected at all. Here’s an interesting fact to impress your friends with: a thinner glass will keep your beer at its original cool temperature for longer. It seems counterintuitive but it’s true!
The rate your beer warms is dependent on three things: the air temperature, the glass’ temperature, and the beer’s temperature. When you pour a cold beer into a room temperature glass, the two elements will work on finding a stable temperature: so the glass will cool down as the beer heats up. A thicker glass will take longer to cool down so your beer spends longer warming up. Ever notice how the last part of the beer in your bottle is warm, and flat? A thin-walled glass ensures a cooler beer from start to finish.
Beer doesn’t have to make you bloated
Beer is a carbonated beverage that releases carbon-dioxide gas. When you drink directly from the bottle or can, all of this gas goes directly into your belly. If you pour your beer into a glass, you release some of this gas into the air, consuming less yourself and making you feel less bloated.
The whole sensory experience
Is there any better sight than a golden hoppy IPA it cascades into a crystal clear glass on a hot Australian day? Imagine raising the glass to your nose and being greeted by herbaceous hop aromas leap out before the nectar floods across your palate. Sounds better than a nearly tasteless swig out of a wet bottle, right?
Beer out of a glass makes it a complete sensory experience - so if you’re serious about beer, it’s time to get serious about glassware.