The Art of Beer Pt XII – Big Alcohol, Small Glass

Coppertail Cryptid 12% ABV

If you’re new to the craft beer scene then you may have noticed that some of the selections out there are served in smaller glasses than others. No this isn’t the bar owner trying to rip you off. If you still have any senses when this happens or any taste buds or nasal senses at all then you should have detected a boozier atmosphere with this draft.

Untitled Art, New England Double IPA, 8% ABV

Once beers start getting past the 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) content level then it’s incumbent upon the bar server to make sure you’re not consuming too much alcohol so industry wide it is usually served in a 10 oz. glass instead of a pint. And if the ABV really climbs up there it may only come in a 5 oz taster.

In the American beer scene for years the alcohol level in beers has been between 3-5%. And that depends on where you live and whether or not the beer in questions is a Light beer or a regular beer, though I don’t know if anyone still has any regular beers as the lights have dominated the Macro market.

You will also usually notice that these higher ABV beers will come in a snifter or goblet. There are a couple of reasons for that. One, the snifter or goblet both have a sense of elegance to them that the standard pint glass doesn’t have. But then let’s be honest the pint glass really has no elegance. Pretty much every other beer glass out there has a sense of style and elegance to it. But the pint glass just looks conical and stackable… two adjectives which aptly describe both the look and function of these glasses.

Blackadder Brewing Survival of the Brettest, Belgian Tripel, 10.5% ABV

The curved bottom of the more elegant snifter or goblet, however, has another purpose all together. As the liquid is poured into the glass, the eddies and swirling motions created help to create the head of the beer and release aromatics so the drinker can enjoy not just the taste but the scent as well.

Big Top Brewing Okefenokee Backwater Imperial Stout, 10.6% ABV

This is necessary because a lot of higher alcohol beers have flavors and aromas than can be masked by the alcohol. They are much more complex than their lower ABV brethren. The same is true of wines and brandies as well. That is why their respective glasses have that distinctive bowl shape to them.

First Magnitude Brewing, Prairie Sunset, New England IPA, 6.3% ABV

That same shape can also be applied to the lower ABV beers and help to release hidden flavors in them. But very few bars serve those in a non-conical glass as they fall into the same ABV category as Macro lights, and in the average beer bar owners mind that doesn’t warrant a special glass.

Now while you may be disappointed with the smaller glass at the bar, remember that the bar owners are looking out for you. Cutting back on the stronger drinks helps you to manage your control for the evening. It also doesn’t hurt that they can use that reason to stretch out their inventory. Some disreputable bars water down their whiskey bottles to stretch out their inventory and improve profits. At least craft beer bars aren’t doing that.

Stone Xocoveza, Imperial Milk Stout, 8.1% ABV

But then the craft beer drinker with a trained pallet and nose would pick up on that in a heartbeat. If you can’t do that then you need to work on your skills a bit.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?… Practice, practice, practice.

Enjoy!

Papabear

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