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Updated August 2022
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Buying guide for Best beer glasses

There’s nothing like enjoying a cold one on a hot summer day, but what if you could make that beer taste even better without actually doing anything to alter the beer? Happily, you can. The secret is pouring that cold one into the appropriate beer glass before savoring it.

If you’ve never bothered to pour beer into a glass – after all, it comes in a perfectly good bottle or can, right? – you might think all the hype over various types of glasses for beer is nothing more than marketing puff or the rarified ramblings of the connoisseur. But the right glassware for the right beer actually does improve the aroma, taste, and appearance of the beverage.

There are lots of types of beer glasses available, so how do you know which is the right type? And does it really matter which shape of glass you pour that IPA or stout into? We’re here to answer those questions.

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Whatever your favorite beer is, be it IPA, lager, ale, stout, or bock, there’s a beer glass shape to match.

Why drink beer from a glass?

While there are certainly times you won’t want to bother with a glass – at a picnic, for example, or right after you’ve finished a grueling afternoon of yard work – the right beer glass can make a difference if you’re enjoying a beer with friends or coworkers, having guests over, or simply spending some time savoring a good beer on your own. There are two main reasons for this: aroma and head.


Unlike other alcohols, most beers – when poured correctly – develop a head of foam. The chemistry behind why beer develops a head is rather complex, but it mostly comes down to yeast, hops residue, and barley proteins fermenting to create carbon dioxide, which rises to the surface of the drink as it’s poured.

This is important because the head “holds on” to the volatile components of the beer, gently releasing them, along with their aromas, as the bubbles pop. This is all a fancy way to say that the head on the beer increases your experience of its aroma and flavor.


Like all alcohols, beer is volatile, meaning that it has components that evaporate easily and release aroma.

That aroma – a combination of hops oils, fermentation byproducts, flavorings, esters, and yeast – is a crucial part of your enjoyment, as your sense of smell is intricately entwined with your sense of taste.

In fact, some researchers say as much as 80% of the flavors we taste actually come from our sense of smell. Because a beer glass has a much larger surface area than a bottle or can, far more of the beer aroma hits your nose, giving you a fuller taste experience.

Types of beer glasses

You’ll find a wide range of beer glasses on the shelves of your favorite virtual or local housewares shop. Choosing a beer glass depends partly on aesthetic preference, though if you're a craft beer fan, you may choose the shape best suited to your favorite beer variety. Here are some of the most common types.

Beer mugs

These heavy glass mugs have a handle, sides that are straight or very slightly curved, and sometimes “dimples” in the glass.

Beer mugs are fun to hold and sturdy enough to clink together in as many toasts as you and your drinking buddies care to give. The thick walls help keep beer cool.

  • Beer mugs are best suited for lagers, ales, stouts, and low-alcohol beers. Capacity varies, but most mugs hold a pint or more, which adds to their popularity.

Nonic pint

This is the beer glass common to English pubs, and it’s sometimes referred to as an English pint glass.

It’s similar to a shaker pint, but a slight bulge around a quarter of the way down from the top helps aerate the beer as you drink, releasing more aroma and flavor.

  • Nonic pints are best suited for any type of beer. You’ll find both 16-ounce and 20-ounce versions.

Shaker pint

Walk into an American bar and order a beer, and this is the glass it will likely be served in. Also called an American pint, this is a tall glass with a slight taper from bottom to top and straight sides without a lip or bulge.

While easy to clean and stack, sturdy in construction, and inexpensive to buy, the shaker pint actually does little to improve the flavor of beer. In fact, it was originally designed for mixing cocktails.

  • Shaker pints are best suited for any type of beer. Most hold 16 ounces.


You’ll find a few variations, but all pilsner glasses are tall and thin. Some have a bit of a “waist” near the bottom, while others have a very gentle flare from bottom to top.

Pilsner glasses are great for showing off the color and carbonation of beer, and they work well to retain the foamy head that increases aroma.

  • Pilsner glasses are best suited for pilsners, low-alcohol beers, lagers, and witbiers. Most hold 12 ounces, all though sizes vary considerably.

Goblets and chalices

Resembling wine glasses, goblets have a longer stem and delicate sides, while chalices have a short stem and sturdier sides. Most curve slightly inward at the lip, focusing the aroma as you drink and maintaining the beer’s head.

  • Goblets and chalices are best suited for any strong, malty beer, Belgian ales, German bocks, and high-alcohol beer. Capacity varies, but it is generally much less than a pint.


These glasses have long stems and tulip-shaped bowls that narrow in the middle with a slight flare at the top.

The shape is perfect for beers with a lot of head, and the lower bowl enhances the volatile elements of the beer.

  • Tulip glasses are suited for any type of beer, but they are especially good for double IPAs, Belgian ales, fruit beers, and any other beer with a strong flavor. Sizes vary, but most hold well under a pint.


While usually associated with cognac or brandy, snifters are also excellent beer glasses, as they capture the aroma and focus it toward your nose. Swirl the beer before drinking to heighten the effect.

  • Snifters are best suited for IPAs, Belgian ales, barleywine, and any other strong brew. Size varies but is generally less than a pint.


This tall, slender glass concentrates the beer aroma and is typically paired with delicate beers to intensify their flavor.

  • Stange glasses are best suited for any delicate beer, altbier, or bock. Capacity is typically around eight ounces.

Beer stein

This is the classic “Oktoberfest” beer mug. Most are made of ceramic, pewter, stoneware, or even wood, but not glass.

A stein has a hinged lid with a lever for your thumb. Beer steins are more often used as souvenirs or bar décor than for drinking these days, and some are very beautifully decorated.

  • Beer steins are best suited for ales and lagers. Capacity is usually a pint or more.

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Did you know?
Looking for a fun gift? There are many gimmick or gag types of beer glasses available, such as glasses in the shape of a boot, glasses inscribed with funny sayings, and even glasses shaped like footballs.

Tips for pouring beer like a bartender

Whatever the type of glass, pouring the beer correctly will lead to the best taste.

  1. Hold your glass at a 45-degree angle. That’s halfway between straight up and flat on its side.

  2. With your glass tilted, slowly start to pour, aiming the beer so it hits the side of the glass roughly halfway from the bottom.

  3. Continue to pour until the glass is halfway full.

  4. Slowly straighten the glass to an upright position while continuing to pour the beer. This creates a good head of foam.

  5. Pour until the head just peeks over the top of the glass.

  6. Drink and enjoy!

Beer glass prices

A lot of factors impact the cost of beer glasses, including quality, type, and the size of the set.

In general, however, you should expect to pay between $10 and $25 for a set of four good-quality beer glasses.

Specialty shapes, larger sets, and sets of superior quality might cost more than $30.

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A collection of souvenir beer glasses is a great way to commemorate your travels.


Q. Is it better to buy a set that includes one type of beer glass or assorted styles?

A. Both are fine. If you generally stick with just one type of beer, you’ll probably find that a set that matches your favorite brew is best. If you like to sample a variety of beers, however, go for the mixed set.

Q. How should I care for my beer glasses?

A. If you really want the best beer taste, wash your glasses by hand with mild dishwashing soap and let them air dry. Washing beer glasses in the dishwasher can leave a slight soap residue that affects taste. Store your glasses upright, not on their rims.

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