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Discovering Beer

Every style of beer has its own characteristics. Besides knowledge on the ingredients and procedures used in the brewing process, the characteristics of appearance, aroma, and taste are basic to understanding a beer.

The beer tasting wheel helps to identify specific elements in a beer’s aroma and taste profile.

The volatile aromas tend to be soon on their way out of an ordinary glass and the beer.

A well designed glass with the appropriate shape and a thin wall and rim helps to underline the characteristics of a given style and offers an optimized tasting experience!


A thin and clear glass held against a white background will show some of the most prominent virtues of a beer at a glance. Expect to see the distinctive color generated from different malts, see the carbonation – those little bubbles created during fermentation – and finally make sure if the beer shows a little haze (as desired for example in a Hefeweizen) or looks clear.


The delicate aroma of a great beer is determined by the specific aromas of malted – and sometimes roasted – grains as well as the abundance of noble hop aromas. These can reach from floral and herbal to fruity and are typically accompanied by aromas derived from by-products of fermentation. If not presented in the right type of glass, most of these values of a beer are lost.


A well designed glass will underline the characteristic balance of malty sweetness and hop bitterness that are found on different levels in different beers. The malt will contribute a great deal to the mouthfeel although the right amount of bitterness can enhance the full bodied character. If the beer is sampled from a glass that matches its character, it will show how refreshing, fruity or herbal, full-bodied or dry it really is.

How to Pour Beer

Pouring beer is an art, and definitely part of the overall tasting experience. We always suggest that you drink a beer out of a glass to be able to see, smell, and taste all the beer has to offer.

The following demonstrates the most common pouring technique which can be applied to most beers and glassware type. You’ll also find that most bartenders pour draught beer as follows too.

Steps to a Perfect Pint

  • Use a clean glass. A dirty glass, containing oils, dirt or residuals from a previous beer may inhibit head creation and flavors.
  • Hold your glass at a 45 degree angle. Pour the beer, targeting the middle of the slope of the glass. Don’t be afraid to pour hard or add some air between the bottle and glass.
  • At the half-way point, bring the glass at a 90 degree angle and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head. And remember, having a head on a beer is a good thing. It releases the beer’s aromatics and adds to the overall presentation. You may also want to gradually add distance between the bottle and glass as you pour to also inspire a good head. An ideal head should be 1” to 1 1/2”.
  • With bottle-conditioned beers, that may have a considerable amount of yeast in the bottle, you may wish to watch closely as you pour if you don’t like yeast in your poured beer. However, this is the highlight of some beers and actually wanted. Just note that the inclusion of yeast will alter the clearness and taste of your poured beer, and lively yeast is high in vitamins and nutrients!


The correct glass for the style of beer is essential in providing an enjoyable tasting experience. The right glass is more than an alcohol delivery system. It is a vessel that can enhance and showcase the characteristics that the brewer intended.

Beer Tulip: This glass not only enhances the hop flavor in Pilsner-style beers, but also supports the malty character of bolder beers.

The warmth of a strong Bock beer, the toffeeish vanilla-like aroma of a Bourbon-cask aged Stout or the subtle aromas of Belgian Trappist beer are well preserved in the bowl of the glass and can be enjoyed best when the glass is only half full.

Tall Pilsner: The Tall Pilsner glass is the classic shape to suit a German-style pilsner. These beers show little to no malty sweetness but have a dry, elegant overall appearance that is well reflected in the slim shape of the glass.

The shape also enhances the light golden color and the stable head of these beers – and when drinking from the glass the crisp hop bitterness is accentuated by the refreshing effect of the carbonation.

Lager: While this glass was first created to bring out all the subtleties found in pale Lagers, it proves to be the right choice for many British Ales as well – and even for dry Irish stouts. A typical feature of this glass is the fact that it holds 0.5 liters – an amount which corresponds roughly to a pint.

Being slightly wider at the mouth than at the foot, this glass properly presents the typical flavors and aromatics of Pale lagers, Ales, English Strong Ale, and German Helles.

Wheat Beer: This glass has the classic shape of the Bavarian Wheat beer glass – and is the ideal choice to sample traditional Hefeweizen beers. The wide opening at the top also enhances the aromas found in spiced beers and even fruit flavored Lambics.

This glass requires a slow, gentle pour at the beginning and when the beer is almost full, a more direct pour to create a thick, creamy foam. Use for German Wheat Beer, Belgian White (Witbier), and Wheat-Ale.

IPA: India Pale Ale Glass. In collaboration with two of the leading IPA brewers in the United States, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Spiegelau has created the new standard for IPA glassware.

Designed to showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American – hop-forward – IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouthfeel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savor each beer, Spiegelau’s latest design is the go-to vessel for enjoying IPA’s.

You can find all of these fine Spiegelau Beer Glasses (and wine glasses too!) at Hamlin Distributors Inc. They’ll perfectly complement the selection of fine beverages to be found at our facility. Stop in for yours today!

Basic Beer Terms

ABV: Alcohol By Volume – Amount of alcohol in beer in terms of the percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer.

Ale: Beers distinguished by use of top fermenting yeast strains. The top fermenting yeasts perform at warmer temperatures than do yeasts used to brew lager beer, and their by-products are more evident in taste and aroma. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale’s character.

Barley: A cereal grain that is malted for use in the grist that becomes the mash in the brewing of beer.

Beer: Name given to alcohol-containing beverages produced by fermenting grain, specifically malt, and flavored with hops.

Fermentation: Conversion of sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, through the action of yeast.

Hops: Herb added to boiling wort or fermenting beer to impart a bitter aroma and flavor.

IBU: International Bitterness Unit – A system of indicating the hop bitterness in finished beer.

Lager: Beers produced with bottom fermenting yeast strains at colder fermentation temperatures than ales. This cooler environment inhibits the natural production of esters and other by-products, creating a crisper tasting product.

Malt(ing): The process by which barley is steeped in water, germinated, and then kilned to convert insoluble starch to soluble substances and sugar. This is the foundation ingredient of beer.

Wort: The solution of grain sugars strained from the mash tun. At this stage, regarded as “sweet wort,” later as brewed wort, fermenting wort, and finally beer.

Yeast: A micro-organism of the fungus family. Genus Saccharomyces.

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