Samuel Adams Beer Glassware

Seeing the commercials for the Samuel Adams beer glasses, I was skeptical. While I’ve noticed that red wines are better served in bowl- or tulip-shaped glasses, because the aroma of a red is trapped and led to the nose, I didn’t believe that it would make that much difference serving beer in the special Sam Adams glass as opposed to a regular pint glass. Both would seem to server the same function, which would be to release the scent of a beer that is normally trapped in the bottle.

I’ve long held that beer tastes better in glassware. The bottle is fine, and I often drink beer in a bottle due to laziness or circumstance. But to get the most enjoyment out of a beer, pouring it into a glass (or, hell, plastic disposable at a picnic) is the easiest thing to do. I’d go so far as to say pouring a beer is more important to the taste of it than age or temperature. The bottle hides or masks a lot of flavor.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager bottle and Winter Lager poured into a Samuel Adams beer glass

The glass lets the visual quality of the beer show through, which is often ignored.

That being said, would the Sam Adams glasses actually improve the flavor of the beer? Their own literature states that the glass was designed for Boston Lager specifically, but I tried it with an Octoberfest, Irish Red, and Winter Lager. I found that the taste of the Octoberfest was noticeably sweeter, the Irish Red was slightly more bitter–not to be considered a negative attribute here, and the Winter Lager aroma was brighter and clearer. It would seem that the strong attribute of the brew is made a bit stronger from these glasses.

All of this could be due to raised expectations, of course, and it would be difficult to conduct blind taste-tests, due to the obviousness of the drinking vessel. A friend confirmed that he found the Winter Lager was more fragrant, but he found no taste difference with the glass. There are two reasons, though, to think that the glass does have real-world effects over a regular pint glass: the bottom is narrower, and holds significantly less liquid, so holding the glass will not heat up the beer as rapidly; and, the laser-etched circle at the bottom really does create a nucleation point for bubbles to rise, giving greater chance that the aromas within the beer will rise to meet the nose of the drinker.

My final concern was the the glasses seemed much smaller than a 16-ounce pint glass. That would be fine for pouring a 12-ounce bottle of beer, but should a local bar get hold of these and start pouring 12-ounce pints–well, civilization would be at an end. But, no, the glasses hold 16-ounces right to the rim, and a sloppy 12-ounce pour will foam the head to the beaded edge, making it look like it was meant to be that way.

The glasses are pricey, but the four that I have from the set will be in heavy use, and my pint glasses will be left to Guinness and other stouts.