Cognizant of my love of good beer, my family gave me a Father's day present of beer glasses. That's glasses, as in drinking; not goggles as in post-drinking. The new, interestingly and pleasingly shaped vessels are touted by Sam Adams and Jim Koch as a new way to fully appreciate beer, with a strong suggestion that his product be the one to fill them. That product sure looks good in the promo pics.
I've got no problem with that, as SA beers have been among my top choices for many years. It's Summer as I write, and if there's a better after-yardwork or exercise beer than SA Cherry Wheat, I've yet to have it. There are others equally satisfying, of course, but none better. So I was looking forward to my first Cherry Wheat in Sam's new glass after my afternoon bike ride.
According to the neat little booklet that accompanies the glassware, every component of the glass's anatomy is specifically designed to perform a certain function that enhances the beer sensory experience. At the very top of the glass, the "Bead" is designed to "create turbulence" which releases flavor and aroma as the beer enters the mouth. The narrowing at the top of the glass supposedly retains hop aroma and sustains the head. The rounded shape (which you probably wrap your top two fingers around when drinking) collects aromas. And laser etchings on the bottom of the glass--like the kind in some of those real fancy Belgian style glasses--create bubbles for constant aroma release. The "Outward Lip" of the glass is supposed to deliver beer to the front of the tongue which is where sweetness is tasted, and the thinner walls and rounded shape are supposed to maintain proper beer temperature longer.
The experts who analyzed the glass all came away praising what it does, at least for Sam Adams Boston Lager, the company's flagship beer. The booklet didn't say what effect all the nuances of the glassware had on other beers.
But I can tell you. None.
It did allow for an effortless "perfect pour," and it is an elegant and handsome design. But those two things may have been the demise of my glass's efficiency.
Sweating from my ride, I hung up my bike and removed my helmet and gear. I went to the fridge and grabbed a cold Cherry Wheat. I poured it into this culmination of the glassblower's art. With its perfect head and aesthetically pleasing shape, the beer was absolutely beautiful.
I sniffed, as is my wont, and the redolence of subtle cherry struck my olfactories. Bingo!
I started to drink. And never stopped.
Before I knew it the glass was empty, though I could still smell cherries when I tried to reach the remaining drops of beer with my tongue. I got no sense of the Bead, because the only turbulence created was the rush of the beer into my thirsty maw. Nor could I appreciate the Narrowing, the Rounded Shape, the Thinner Walls, the Outward Lip or the Laser Etchings (though I tried to touch them with my tongue).
My lesson was simple. This new glass is no good for chugging. But that's Jim Koch's fault for making his Cherry Wheat so damned appealing on a hot summer afternoon.
I promise, therefore to try again...this time with a beer I can savor at a time when I'm not overly thirsty.
Whew! All this writing is taxing work. I'll get to my experiment later.
Let me just try this SA Hefeweizen first.
©Kurt Epps 2007 All rights reserved