The first ale I chose for the glass experiment was Deschutes’ Mirror Pond. I picked this ale for two reasons: I like it and I know how it tastes. I hoped that this would give me a solid baseline: since I know what Mirror Pond is supposed to taste like, I would have a better sense of how it was affected, if at all.
Here’s what we noticed: Nose was nice in schooner but there was less nose, in the pint glass.
I noticed more malt flavors in the mug and the brandy glass not much nose, at all, initially. I wondered if a short pour as effecting the experience: as you can see from the photo, the brandy glass has the least head on it of the four.
My girlfriend caught more scents than I did but said the flavors was largely unaffected. She didn’t like the weightiness of the mug–which I tried to suggest wasn’t really what we were testing for but upon discussion I had to admit was part of the experience. She got more nose in brandy glass than I did, which I was surprised at because there was no foam on top. The pint glass had and kept foam best, with the mug a second, yet the schooner offered more scent than the mug did.
We agreed that these differences in Mirror Pond were subtle. Very, very subtle. We made a mistake by pouring all four beers at once, which caused us to hurry through each of them at first, trying to get scents, and then work our way through the rest of the experience slower. It made picking differences out more challenging but I will point out that because each beer was the same, plucking differences out should be difficult. Regardless of the challenge, in the future we’ll have all the beers on the same evening but two at a time so we don’t have to rush.
As we drank, I got much more nose from brandy glass-too much. By the end of the floral notes were almost sickening to me. That was a very, very confusing moment because no other glass provided this experience. Also the mug kept the beer coldest out of the glasses. We proposed that it might be better for lagers.
She liked the lager glass then the pint glass, the brandy glass then the mug. I went pint, lager, mug, brandy.
Conclusions: this won’t make a bad beer better, nor a good beer excellent but each glass does push some style points of this beer further than others.
So the first thing to say here is: I was wrong. The glassware does have an impact. I am genuinely surprised by this. I still believe that most people can be forgiven for not caring about the glass much and I don’t think that people should become snooty about their glassware because those differences were small, gentle ones and not really enough to change lead into gold. I feel that a wonderful beer will show its true colors in any container.
But the glass could brighten (or dull) a beer in a few tiny ways that could affect a patron’s enjoyment and sometimes those little changes make all the difference.