There’s nothing wrong with drinking beer directly from a bottle or can, but for the 360-degree sensory experience, you’ll want to pour your beer into a glass, letting your eyes drink up the tint and carbonation before you take that first sip.
The right glass matters, too. Sure, you can dump that IPA into a Mason jar with a cracked lip, but a glass’s shape and raw materials can take a great beer and make it transcendent. A great glass will accentuate a beer’s aromatics and help the head stick around, creating a beer that looks as good as it tastes.
Bormioli Rocco Bodega Collection 17-Ounce Glassware Set
Chip-resistant tempered glass
Not ideal for higher-ABV beers
When searching for glasses for Chicago’s Ørkenoy, a design-focused brewpub and community hub, cofounder Jonny Ifergan sought glassware that was "incredibly distinct and different from the traditional beer glass." That’s when he stumbled upon the Bormioli Rocco Bodega Glass.
The set of 12 merges function and form, built from chip-resistant tempered glass, boasting a thick base, and offering crystalline clarity to showcase a golden pilsner, fruit-infused sour ale, or hazy IPA. “It’s understated and simple, and the proportions of its wide mouth and extremely easy feel when held in your hand really won us over," says Ifergan. "Sure, you can call it a tumbler, but tumblers deserve way more credit than they are given in the beer industry.”
Price at time of publish: $54
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 12 | Dimensions: 3.54 x 3.54 x 3.54 inches | Capacity: 17 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Sour Ales
Rastal Teku Stemmed Beer Glass
Shape suited for sour-ale aromas
Good for smaller sips
Great for other ales and tripels
When it comes to enjoying a variety of beers—sour ales included—Zach Mack, certified cicerone and co-owner of New York City's Alphabet City Beer Co. reaches for Rastal Teku glasses. “The shape of the Teku wine glass is similar to a wine glass, in that it flares up at the top—think of it like a classic Belgian tulip meets a snifter glass,” he explains, citing that tulip-shaped rims help channel aroma, as well as showcase color and clarity. Mack also explains that the Teku’s tighter opening renders it much more a sipping glass, which is conducive to enjoying smaller sips over a longer period of time.
Additionally, Mack notes that Rastal Teku glasses are great for controlling serving size, unlike many of the 20-ounce “shaker pint-like glasses” found across many bars. “The Rastal Teku is good for high-alcohol Belgian Tripels, as well as New England Style IPAs—you’ll get a great expression of both beers, and in a pinch, you can use them for wine and cocktails, too.”
Price at time of publish: $68
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 6 | Dimensions: 3 x 2.5 x 8.3 inches | Capacity: 14.2 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: No
JoyJolt Callen 15.5-Ounce Craft Beer Glasses
Durable and versatile
Can be pre-chilled in the freezer
In the realm of ‘bang for your buck’ beer glasses, this 4-pack set from JoyJolt Callen is one of the best on the market. Whether easy-drinking ales, refreshing pilsners, or hoppy IPAs are what’s in your glass, this versatile set of glasses promises to deliver a pleasant drinking experience. Each glass clocks in at 15.5 ounces, meaning that 12-ounce pours with ample foam or standard 16-ounce pour with little head will both fit perfectly. These simple-yet-satisfying glasses are also made with thick glass sans bubbles or imperfections, meaning that you can pop them into the freezer—as well as the dishwasher—without worrying about breakage. In short? You really can’t go wrong here.
Price at time of publish: $33
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 4 | Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 x 7.25 inches | Capacity: 15.5 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for IPAs
Restaurantware 20-Ounce Imperial Nonic Pint Glass
Can stack together
Durable and utilitarian
Great for big, long sips
When talking regular-strength IPAs, Mack reaches for Nonic Imperial pint glasses. “It’s a typical 16 oz. pint glass that looks and carries the beer perfectly,” he says. Mack also describes that the Nonic Imperial pint glass flares out slightly below the lip, which makes it easy to stack without having glasses stick together. Nonic Imperial also perfectly fits a 16-ounce pour, which is the standard serving size for many IPAs. Lastly, Mack also highlights that, contrary to the sipper-style Teku glass, Nonic Imperial’s wider opening at the top makes it more conducive to taking bigger and longer sips, which is generally how IPAs are best enjoyed.
Price at time of publish: $23
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 6 | Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 6.6 inches | Capacity: 12 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Belgian Beers
Spiegelau Beer Tulip Glass Set
Great for tastings
Shows off foam
Sommelier Rebecca Flynn favors these bulbous glasses (available in a set of four) for Belgian and Belgian-inspired brews, such as farmhouse ales like the saison beer, or maybe monk-made dubbels and tripels. The beers shine best when poured into a glass, where you can admire their majestic poofs of perfumed foam.
“The large bowl captures a beer’s aromatic esters, and the tulip showcases a rich, fluffy head,” she says. “I used these glasses at Eleven Madison Park for our beer and cheese pairings—they look great full or with just a few ounces in them.”
Price at time of publish: $36
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 4 | Dimensions: 3.56 x 3.56 x 6.1 inches | Capacity: 15.5 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Stouts
Spiegelau Barrel-Aged Glasses
Specifically designed for barrel-aged beers
Comes in a set of four
Specific to one style of beer
Wayne Wambles is a wizard with wood. The brewmaster at Cigar City Brewing, in Tampa, Florida, makes some of the country’s most exciting barrel-aged beers, including versions of his legendary Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout that’s seasoned with chile peppers, cacao nibs, and cinnamon. Fittingly, he helped develop the Spiegelau Barrel-Aged glass set of four, specifically designed to boost the nuances of a wood-seasoned beer (think big stouts, barley wines, and barrel-aged brews).
“This glass has a wide enough mouth to allow for barrel aromatics to reach your nose without over-concentration of spirit or wood character,” Wambles says. “It allows you to focus on the beer as a whole without being overwhelmed by barrel character.”
Price at time of publish: $42
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 4 | Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 6.9 inches | Capacity: 17.7 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Gifting
Libbey Craft Brews Assorted Beer Glasses
A glass for every type of beer
Replacement glasses available
Great price per glass
You will need two sets for a couple
They say that variety is the spice of life, and when gifting glassware to the beer lover in your life, the statement couldn’t ring more true. No matter which style of brew your gift recipient plans on pouring, this 6-pack gift set from Libbey Craft Brews promises to cover all of your bases. “It’s a nice collection from a reputable manufacturer that covers just about any beer style,” says Kevin Kain, founder of Casket Beer.
This go-to pack features one pilsner glass, one English pub glass, one Belgian ale glass, one porter/stout glass, one wheat beer glass, and one craft pub glass, all of which are produced with lead-free glass and are dishwasher safe. This versatile gift set is sure to satisfy every level of beer drinker, from curious novice to long-standing aficionado.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: Glass | Number of Pieces: 6 | Capacity: 14.75, 15.75, 16.6, 20, and 23 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
If you're looking for one set of glasses that are chip-resistant, stylish, and suitable for a variety of beer types, the Bormioli Rocco Bodega Glassware Set is your best bet. For a set that covers just about every shape of beer glass you could ever need, go for the Libbey Craft Brews Assorted Beer Glasses.
What To Look For in Beer Glasses
“If you have a favorite beer brand, I recommend having the glass or style of glass that the brewery pours your favorite beer in around the home,” says Max Bakker, Master Cicerone at Anheuser-Busch. “Other essential glasses to have at home to elevate your beer experiences include stemmed chalice/tulip glasses and a few proper imperial nonic-style pint glasses.”
Mack dually notes that glassware with smaller openings are more conducive to taking tinier sips, which also affects the where the beer lands on your tongue. “[Where the beer lands on your tongue] can channel the aroma into your nose between each sip differently,” Mack explains, citing that bulb-shaped glasses collect, and therefore showcase, aromas in a distinct way. “You'll get a little whiff every time you take a sip, which will ultimately affect your perception of the beer,” he says. For very vibrant ales (think Belgian ales with ample floral and fruit-forward notes), this can be very impactful in rendering the consumer to savor the liquid rather than chugging it down.
Most bars serve a pint in a standard, 20-ounce glass, but notice the variety of sizing on this list. Depending on the alcohol percentage and the style of a beer, you will want to serve each beer in a corresponding glass. “You wouldn't serve someone whiskey in a coffee mug or pint glass, or wine in a 20-ounce stein, because it’s dangerous and irresponsible,” Mack explains, equally noting that doing so doesn’t do any positive service to the beverage at hand.
Mack also states that if worried about efficiency, simply continue refilling the glass rather than overserving up front—and that beers presented in smaller glasses are served as such for a specific reason. “[As a consumer,] don’t assume that you’re being cheated because you’re getting a smaller pour—any beer that’s on the higher-ABV side is going to have an aromatic element to it that's worthwhile, so smaller glasses with larger, bulbous shapes that collect aromas are important,” he says. Consider what beers you prefer sipping and pick a glass size accordingly.
“Beer glasses are kind of like house plants—sometimes they are hard to keep alive,” Bakker says. “I recommend looking for glasses that you will be able to clean and maintain. Stemmed glasses and glasses with intricate artwork on them are nice, but always require hand washing versus ease of the dishwasher. Thinner, lighter glasses require a softer touch when cleaning, drying, and storing.”
“To ensure that your glass is 'beer clean,' use a lanolin-free dish soap and air dry your glasses on a rack versus using a towel," he says. "You will know if you have a beer-clean glass by the looks of your pour.” If you’re not one to want to wash and polish a glass after a late night of sipping, consider a dishwasher-safe option.
Why does beer taste better in a glass?
“Beer glasses are designed to promote the visual aesthetics of beer (foam, color, and clarity) and to enhance the beer’s flavor (aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and aftertaste),” Bakker says. “While there are many different types of beer glasses to choose from, a glassware’s cleanliness will make a bigger difference in your enjoyment than the type of glass used.”
How many ounces are in a beer glass?
“I recommend an 8- to 10-ounce, stemmed, chalice-type tulip glass for high-ABV beer,” Bakker says. “Like spirits, beer with a high ABV is best consumed in smaller portions and in glassware designed to capture and maximize the aroma of the product.” For standard-proof beers, a regular, larger glass is completely serviceable.
Can you freeze beer glasses?
Freezing your glasses is a dangerous game. Yes, your glasses will be icy cold, but the glasses will also pick up the scents of things in your freezer, meaning your IPA may have subtle notes of frozen pizza. Unless you have a beer fridge with shelves set aside for glasses, consider just chilling your beer.
How do I pour a beer?
“Give your glass a rinse with some clean cool water before pouring,” Bakker says. “Tilt your glass at a 45-degree angle and pour until about two-thirds full. Then, pour straight down the middle with force to develop the perfect collar of foam. You should see a nice collar of foam composed of small, tight bubbles, and there should be no bubbles adhering to the sides of the glass.”
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was written by Joshua M. Bernstein, a journalist specializing in beer, spirits, food, and travel. Bernstein is also the author of five books: "Brewed Awakening," "The Complete Beer Course," "Complete IPA," "Homebrew World," and "Drink Better Beer."
This article was updated by Kate Dingwall, who has spent more than six years writing about wine and spirits and the last decade as a working sommelier. Her work appears in a variety of national outlets, both print and digital. She’s the niece of an award-winning Belgian brewer and is always kind enough to help test his new brews. For this roundup, she interviewed master cicerone Max Bakker of Anheuser-Busch.
Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist based between New York and Paris, additionally updated this roundup with new selections and an interview with Zach Mack. Her writing regularly appears in major industry publications, including Liquor.com, WineSearcher, Decanter, and beyond. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine. When not writing, Vicki enjoys indoor cycling classes and scoping out dogs to pet in her local parks.