Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Weissbier Glass

Weissbier (in German, Weßbier) goes by many names: Wheat Beer, Hefeweizen, Weisse, Weizen, Weizenbier and Hefe are common variations. But proper German Weissbier, no matter what you choose to call it, is a staple of sun-dappled Bavarian beer gardens and the drinking hand of anyone looking for that frame of mind, and is as strongly connected with a particular glass as beer styles get.

Like the Bavarian barmaid you imagine delivering that frothy cup of goodness, Weissbier glasses are almost universally tall, curvaceous and of course brimming with radiant blonde beauty. They're typically sure-footed, with a slender midsection beneath a round, ample top. I'm sorry, are we still talking about glassware?

Hefeweizen is a good-looking beer (click here for proof), and its glassware, tall and shapely, compliments that aesthetic well. Highly carbonated, Hefe also benefits from the roomy upper reaches of this glass, allowing plenty of space for that fluffy white head a well-poured Hefe boasts.

(Confession time: I'm not a huge Hefeweizen/Weissbier fan. And not for lack of sampling. For whatever reason, while I can recognize quality, I have a hard time getting revved up for this style. I keep telling myself I'm going to brew some again to try and break my stubbornness.)

No surprise here, this glass is best suited for Hefeweizen/Weissbier/pick your moniker. And while I believe all beer should be drank from a glass, I think that's especially so with this style. Hefe should be poured to allow some of that exuberant carbonation go free, lest you get little more than an explosion of gas and bubbles in your mouth on every sip from the bottle. What's more, the delicate yet complex flavors and aromas of this style are best explored from the proper glassware.

One last quick note: There's nothing to prevent one from pouring other beer styles into this glass. Indeed, I know of at least one chain of beer bars that uses this glass for extra-large Happy Hour pours. Its tapered mouth helps collect aromas and flavors up top, so there's nothing particularly offensive about the design. I'd probably stay away from Belgians and high-gravity styles if only because the sheer volume of the Weissbier glass would put it out of range of such beers, which tend to be consumed in smaller servings. But lighter beers and American and British ales? The well-equipped beer drinker probably has better glasses to reach for, but otherwise...


Ben Spiegel said...

Yeah, I have some glasses like this that I use for everyday beers. I think they are great glasses!

Brad said...

I hear that. I even used this glass to hasten the death of a keg of Berliner Weisse that was in flavor decline -- just to force myself to drink more of it.

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