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Beer Glass Information

Beer Glass Information

Everything you ever wanted to know about beer glasses including history, style, form, function and how beer glasses are made.  A lot of history, thought and effort has gone into the glass that you use to enjoy your favorite beer.

Why so many different styles of beer glasses?

Beers rich history is only surpassed by the vessels created over the centuries to serve it.  Historically, beer glass design has been driven by style, form, function and legal requirements.

Beer Glass Style

For instance, marketing efforts by beer companies has created beer glasses that unique and help separate one breweries beer from the others.   Highly stylized beer glasses are found along side beer bottles in most beer ads.  Getting the beer glasses used in the ads can prove difficult.  Some breweries don't resell the beer glasses that they market along-side their beer.  Other breweries, like Guinness, have a better understanding of customer demand for glassware and make liberal use of their products in licensing agreements.

Beer Glass by Form

Beer glass design can be driving by form.  For instance tall and slender wheat beer glasses allow for yeast sediment to settle at the bottom of the glass.  A beer snifter is used for higher gravity (higher alcohol content) beers and the wide bowl allows for the hand to gentle warm the beer and the narrow lip allows for aroma retention.   Kolsh glasses are typically designed to be small and so that the beer is enjoyed quickly while it is still cold.

Beer Glass by Function

A beer glass can be designed with function in mind.  Beer steins were first created using stoneware which helps keep the beer colder longer.  Lids were added to beer steins and mugs to keep flies of the beer.   The coachman's glass was designed to rest in a wooden stand that could be held while driving a horse and carriage.  Beer mugs in the beer gardens in Germany are designed for high volume use and durability.   These hefty dimpled one liter mugs can weigh over 3 pounds each and can withstand a surprising amount of abuse.

Beer Glass Legal Requirements

In some countries where beer drinking is taken rather seriously, legal requirement put forth by governments dictate how large a beer glass must be and how it should be marked.   This is the case in the UK with the imperial pint glass.

How are beer glasses made?

Beer glasses are manufactured using one of the following techniques:

Machine Pressed Beer Glasses

Machine pressed glass was invented in the USA in 1825 by John Bakewell to make glass knobs for furniture.   The process begins with a mold created with the desired shape of the beer glass and then molten glass is injected or plunged into the mold.  The mold is then split open when cooled leaving a finished beer glass.   European glassware factories quickly realized that this technique could produce beer glasses that more uniform, durable and cost effective to produce.   You can spot a machine pressed beer glass by a rounded lip and the seam left by the mold.  Machine pressed beer glasses are the most durable product on the market and perfect for bars, restaurants, beer gardens and any other high volume location.

Machine Blown Beer Glasses

Machine blown glass is produced in a similar manner to machine pressed glass.  A mold is created for the beer glass and then molten glass is injected into the mold with high pressure air.  Once cooled, the beer glass is removed from the mold and polished.  The resulting product can be very durable and offer good uniformity.  Small air bubble from the high pressure air injection can be present in the finished product.  This is intrinsic to the process and not considered a flaw.  A seam is present on a machine blown beer glass and the rim of the glass is typically not rounded like a machine pressed glass.

Mouth Blown Glass

Mouth blown glass is an ancient technique were molten glass is inflated into a desired shape.  The process was thought to be invented by the Phoenicians around the year 50 BC.  Molten glass is placed on the tip of rod and air is mouth blown through the rod inflating the glass.  The mass of glass is then rolled or formed into the final design.  Mouth blown glass is the most time consuming and expensive technique for making beer glasses.  The finished product can be quite fragile.  Mouth blown glass, created with the air of a mold, does not have a seam.

Where are Beer Glasses Made?

Beer glasses are made by a number of companies around the world.  In the USA, the two biggest beer glass producers are Libbey and Anchor-Hocking.

In  Europe, the largest beer glass manufactures are Stoelzle,  Rastal, SAHM, LuminARC and La Rochere. Some of these companies have been making the same style glassware for over 100 years. 

Factories in China also produces many different styles of beer glasses.