What’s in a glass?

With all this talk of glassware – what’s proper – what’s not (see the most recent Beer Advocate: Beer Smack: Beer Glassware: Friend or Foe? (Issue 74) for their take on glassware, and recent blog posts by I Talk Beer, A Perfect Pint, and Blogging at World of Beer ), as well as a claim by A Good Beer Blog that the new Dogfish IPA glass was in fact a rehash of a Spiegelau wine glass…

I thought a little historical perspective might be helpful.

This image is taken from “Country House Brewing in England 1500-1900” (Sambrook 1996).  It shows beer and wine glassware specifications made by John Greene in c. 1670. Greene was a glass seller in London.  You can click on the image to enlarge it, but you will still see what you see in the smaller image — the glasses look the same because there was little or no difference between wine and beer glasses at the time.

Greene’s order specifies:

‘3 dozen plaine for beer. 3 dozen Ribs for beer. The lower part of these glasses and the button must be sollid metall and all the rest of the glass I would have to be blowne thicker than usualy especially the feet must be strong. (Sambrook 242)

According to Sambrook, English Ale glasses c. 17-18th centuries were “a revelation of beauty” by comparison to the tankards or tumblers of today.

My take on all this glassware controversy…

Maybe, just maybe it all comes down to beauty – and as we all know – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Bottoms Up!

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