Saturday 15 August 2009

Looking Glass

There's been some scepticism around the blogosphere on the issue of women, beer drinking & the role of glassware in improving this.

In general, the issue around glassware, labelling and the like is that everything else in our lives - all the other decisions we make to buy products from make-up to mobile phones - is based around the appeal of the packaging, the marketing and the functionality of said product.

And, when you're talking about products specifically marketed to women then, frankly, they all look nice!

The problem beer has is that once it's poured it's down to the glass to make it look nice and all too often the existing options for glassware fail to do that - they just aren't aesthetically pleasing.

And I don't think that's a solely girly thing, when you drink in a pub where there's the option to have a groovy Belgian fluted glass for your beer or a standard one I have never, ever heard anyone say 'oh no, I'll take the Nonic thanks' - it just doesn't happen!


Unknown said...

Of course I agree in general with everything you say.

However, there are still some die-hards in my part of the world that think putting anything in a fancy glass is being, well, too fancy. Yes, I'm sure I could think of people that would refuse to drink out of anything that didn't look British and traditional.

Whorst said...

Dave, I'm one of those people who believe fancy is pretentious. British beer, British stemware, Belgian beer, Belgian stemware,
German beer, German stemware. What's the problem? Does the fancy glass take beer from the gutter and make it acceptable? That's what this whole thing is about. Avery is the mastermind behind all this fluff. He started this crap with the over-sized wine glass. Look for APRK to launch a campaign about this in the near future. I've really had enough.

Melissa Cole said...

@Woolpack Dave - sorry, perhaps I should have said it just doesn't happen in my experience!

@Wurst - I think to blame one particular blogger for using wine glasses for beer is more than a bit misguided, given that I was going to beer tastings eight years ago that did this.

Using different receptacles is a nice way to shake up people's perceptions, I've served the lightest bottled English ales, quite well-chilled in champagne flutes as an aperitif at beer-matched dinners & lunches and ended them with oak-aged or vintage beers in brandy balloons because it's fun and it messes with people's perceptions - I don't demand that's how it's served in pubs however - but I do think people should be given a better choice and that's the sorry lack in the beer glass market.

Sat In A Pub said...

I agree with you on this one. Whilst I personally won't be seen swilling my pint of Mild around in a wine glass-I fear the wrath of Wurst too much, I do think it is a great way to shake up perceptions. Basically I'm all in favour of anything that makes beer more appealing and glassware has a big role to play in that.

Unknown said...

Wurst, perhaps I should have qualified that with saying that if people are happy with the way they drink their beer than that's fine by me.

Following that argument then, if using pretentious techniques increases the enjoyment of beer for some then perhaps that's OK. If that is because these people are pretentious then that's also OK by me. Pretentious people can sometimes be the most colourful of characters.

Whorst said...

Stop trying to put lipstick on a pig! It's beer, it will always be beer. By attempting to tart it up, you're basically saying it's not good enough in a pair of jeans. Apparently it's only worthy to some of you if it's dressed in a tuxedo. That indicates you're unhappy with it in regard to its presentation. And Please don't feed me the crap about how it allows one to fully appreciate olfactory sensations. Bottom line, some people want to tart it up and make it something it's not. I'm a bit like CAMRA in this regard. They're opposed to extraneous CO2, I'm opposed to fancy, pretentious fluff, in regards to stemware.

Laurent Mousson said...

Well, Wurst, ever heard of empathy as a way to understand and meet the needs of other people ? ;o)

I'm well over 6' tall with rather large hands, so indeed I tend to prefer nice chunky bit of glass around my beer.

Yet I'm with Melissa here : if you want a broader part of the female population to look at beer as something they can consider drinking in a public place, something less chunky and comfortable to hold with smaller hands is needed.

Mind you, there is little stigmata on women drinking beer in Germany. But it's also because most draught pilsners are available in 25cl or 30cl tulips or flutes, some stemmed, some not. Yes, the arch-conservative German brewers have seen long ago that even with standard-strength beer, something smaller than a half-litre could actually help their sales by bringing in new customers.

A typical example would be Rothaus, a state-owned brewery notorious for not changing their label design since 1967 and not advertising their beer in the media, yet barely being able to cope with demand.

Their branded glass is designed to evoke an upside-down spruce cone, as the brewery is in the Black Forest, and it is the kind of glassware that is used indifferently by both men and women:
And they also do nice thick half-litre tankards if you prefer those

But the whole thing does not have to be a "one glass for every beer" orgy in belgian style.
General-purpose, unbranded stuff would be a way : one generic stemmed glass especially made for beer is the infamous italian TeKu, designed by Lorenzo "Kuaska" Dabove and Baladin brewer Teo Musso :

Granted, the stem of this one is possibly too long for daily use in a bar, but it is surprisignly sturdy despite being very thin.
And when tasting, it is quite crisp and precise in the nose, more so than noniks and conicals.

Cheers !


Tandleman said...

My campaign against the nonic is documented on my blog. I'm with the majority on this one. Though I like pints, I detest the outdated nonic and decent glassware doesn't make you some kind of pretentious twonk. It can actually make the beer more enjoyable. One of my other peeves is in Germany when they serve pilsner out of a thick walled glass. It happens and it ruins the taste of the beer somehow. Glassware does make a difference.

Whorst said...

You have a campaign against the nonic?? Shame on you! I was really starting to think you were a hard, working class, northerner. Now you unleash this.

Would you mind explaining the science behind the thick walled glasses?

Tandleman said...

Personal preference that's all. It makes MY beer taste better.

Laurent Mousson said...

The science on thick vs. thin glasses, Wurst ?

Not so much science as perception, although it's something to do with physics, i.e. the mass of the glass in contact with your lips and its natural thermic inertia:

A thicker glass (think of a heavy dimpled mug rather than nonic pints, which are no so thick in absolute terms) warms up more slowly in contact with one's lips, and is therefore slightly more intrusive in the overall feel when one brings it up to one's lips, whereas a thinner glass gets instantly to a similar temperature to one's lips and is less present in the overall impression one gets.

And of course the feeling with stoneware, metal or plastic are different to glass...

But indeed, just like sensitivity to sourness or bitterness, no two drinkers are likely to perceive it exactly the same way.

Cheers !