Friday, March 21, 2008

The Andygator Glass

We're now in the realm of what I consider to be -- if they're not in actuality -- tasting glasses. Of course, their unifying trait is small size. It can be frustrating, after all, when you're trying to sample an ounce or two out of a giant mug, and most of the beer is lost coating the inside of the glass before it ever reaches your lips.

Some tasting glasses weren't necessarily intended to serve this purpose, but nevertheless do so because of their diminutive status -- the Singha glass fits this profile. So too does the Andygator glass. Clearly, this vessel was built to house the Abita Brewing Company's high-octane Andygator. Yet, inasmuch as beers of such fortitude (this one's purported to run in the 10-10.5 percent range) are often taken in small servings, so too are their dedicated glasses correspondingly miniaturized. In the case of this fella, about 9.5 ounces will come right up to the rim.

The Andygator glass gets points first off for being stemware. This allows the drinker to hold the glass by its base or stem and not the bowl -- thus keeping warmth from the hand from prematurely heating up the precious liquid within. In addition, the glass' tapered curvature contains head and aromas for an enhanced drinking experience.

Plus, that mean ol' gator just looks cool.

As with all tasting glasses, the Andygator glass' best friend tends to be the beer tap. Unlike bottles, which essentially require a glass of corresponding capacity for optimal use and presentation, kegged beer knows no limitations on serving size. Alternately, tasting glasses are quite at home at parties or gatherings where a bottle is being shared among friends. A squirt of beer here, a smidgen there -- this is the time for the tasting glass to emerge.

Here's some interesting background on Abita's Andygator:

Years ago, Abita held a competition for homebrewers in which the winner would have his or her beer brewed by the pros. A member of the homebrew club in New Orleans (it may have
been known as the Crescent City Homebrewers at the time -- I'm hazy on the details) won the competition and handed his recipe over to Abita.

Something went wrong and the lager yeast attenuated well beyond what it was supposed to. The result was a very dry, very strong pale lager that came out somewhere between Maibock, Malt Liquor and rocket fuel. It's sometimes (erroneously) referred to as a Barleywine, though Andygator shares little beyond sheer strength with brews in that category.

So why the name "Andygator"? Simple: the winning brewer goes by the similar, though slightly less fierce, moniker "Andy Thomas." He's currently a member of Houston's Foam Rangers homebrew club, and he's always happy to tell the story of the birth of Andygator -- and in far better fashion than I just did.

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