Does the beer glass make the beer?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a week since we first wrote about our investigation into whether the beer glass makes – or breaks – the beer.  As you may remember, the first part of our very scientific study found that it may not make the beer, but it can actually make it taste better if you are really paying attention (and/or if you are simultaneously drinking the same beer out of two different glasses…).

Now that we’re in full-on championship mode and have to wait another day to know whether the Gamecocks will advance in the baseball Regionals, it seemed like as good a time as any to finish up with the first six pack for this head’s up challenge.

But first, a recap from the Memorial Day effort… our first attempt was almost thwarted by the contradictory information on the World Wide Web (thank you, Al Gore).  After giving up on the Google search, we picked a standard beer glass to go head-to-head with a Sierra Nevada IPA glass.  Spoiler alert – the IPA glass won.

Based upon the first outing, the IPA glass advanced and we selected an English-style Pint Glass for the challenger.  The beer of choice for this round was the Founders Mosaic Promise, which is a seasonal offering by Founders Brewing Company out of Michigan.  The brewers have classified this as an American Pale Ale.  It uses a single type of hop (Mosaic… hence the name?) and combines that with a malt that has, in my opinion, one of the best names possible for a Triple Crown-winning horse (Golden Promise, but I digress).  By all accounts, the English Pint Glass came out ahead.

Founders Mosaic Promise
Founders Mosaic Promise:  IPA  v. English Style Pint Glass

 

As you can see, the head (aka foam) stayed present, which contributed to being able to taste/ smell the flavoring in the beer in a more pronounced way than was possible with the IPA glass.  As an aside, it is surprising how much we have come to appreciate the importance of the head on a craft beer since starting this journey.  It truly does help your senses appreciate the complexity of the beer and, thus, the work of the brewers.  In this case, we learned that the English Pint Glass helped to maintain the head and the lacing – my new favorite term – much better than the IPA glass.

This was actually our first time having this beer and we found that it was quite enjoyable.  I probably wouldn’t have picked it out on my own as I wasn’t overly familiar with Founders Brewing Co. (although Franklin has previously reviewed their porter and their All Day IPA) and the design is very specific, but I’m glad that Doug (of Vino Garage) suggested it to Franklin as it is a great beer to add to the list.  The brewers offer a great feature on their website – a “beer locator” – and I found out that this beer is available at The War Mouth, which is a new restaurant located near the Vino Garage off of North Main, and at Craft & Draft on Devine Street, among other locations.  I think we’ll have to plan a trip to one of these spots so that I can give it another try, but also to see what type of glass is used…

Last, but not least, is Westbrook Brewing Company’s IPA.  This beer’s label actually recommends its glassware (much appreciated!) – the brewers suggest that it be served out of a Tulip or English Style Pint Glass.  Tulip is a beer glass type that we sadly do not have on hand, so we decided to continue with the head’s up challenge between the Sierra Nevada IPA glass and the English Style Pint Glass (this is a double elimination, right?).

Westbrook IPA
Westbrook IPA: IPA Glass v. English Style Pint Glass

Again, the English Style Pint Glass was the champ.  This challenge didn’t result in a clear winner from the beginning, though.  I think the main reason was less about the glass than it was about the increase in the bitterness due to the additional hops in this IPA.  Similar to my new appreciation for the impact of beer foam, I’m now learning to appreciate the bitterness of a given beer, as measured in IBUs (international bitterness units).  While there’s a lot of scientific nonsense about what an IBU is measuring, the main points to understand are: (1) hop bitterness helps to balance malt sweetness; (2) the interplay between the two is important for drinkability; and (3) while hoppiness is subjective, generally speaking, the higher the IBUs, the hoppier the beer.  With that in mind, it may be illustrative of the increased bitterness/ hoppiness of the Westbrook IPA v. the Founders Mosaic Promise to simply compare the IBUs (50 v. 65).

Because of that, it was harder to distinguish between the two glasses at first (or tenth) taste.  While it took longer to differentiate, we did, ultimately, determine that the English Pint Glass was preferable.  The beer foam and lacing were similar in each glass, but the aroma was almost nonexistent in the IPA Glass (and, as we’ve already determined, we’re learning to appreciate the impact of the aroma on the overall taste/ experience).  I’d say that the aroma was the main reason that we chose the English Style Pint Glass, but it probably didn’t hurt that it was one of the two glass types recommended by the brewers.

Even still, twin victories for the English Style Pint Glass are worth noting.  We’ll have to come up with some other way to approach the glassware challenge in the future.

Until then, cheers!
Kendall

By the way, Franklin gives both of these beers a **** rating.

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