It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, I just read that the famed Dr. Michael Lewis, professor emeritus of brewing science at
U.C. Davis, and highly regarded as one of beer’s leading advocates, is on a personal and
professional campaign to dump the ubiquitous shaker pint glass. He really goes after it with
gusto and I heartily agree. He laments that this ugly, nondescript vessel, fails in every way to
promote and support the product it contains, namely beer.
Dr. Lewis points out that this same glass is used throughout the bar and restaurant trade to
serve water, soda, iced tea and milk; which in turn leaves the impression that beer is therefore
a similar low-level commodity status instead of a beverage with premium status. He's right of
course, and I'm getting angry!
I know you have a large collection of shaker pints since they boast some great beer artwork
and brewery logos. And yes, that distinctive touch does serve to improve the perception of the
beer in the glass. Still, the shape clearly offers no technical support for the product and
cannot contribute in any significant way to enhancing the consumer’s experience.
Admit it Bill, the shaker pint is almost perversely designed to dissipate those very items the
glass should enhance—that is: to help stabilize foam and to help entrap beer aroma. Both
these benefits are maximized when the glass is narrower at the top than below. Think
something like a tulip-shaped glass.
I for one am tired of beer being looked down on as a second class citizen. And one reason for
that is the shaker pint. Answer this Bill - how many $100 bottles of wine would a restaurant sell
if the wine was poured into an iced tea glass? Get my message? Frankly, the glass is also
crassly utilitarian. The only reason it has flourished is because of its usefulness in bars, who
appreciate it’s sturdy non-breakable build and stackable contours. Good for them, but we
consumers care about enhancing the beer.
Craft beer represents the best of the brewers' art so it needs a glass that can stabilizes the
foam and help contain the beer’s aroma. Give me honest pints with a narrow top and larger
bottom, tulips, and snifters.
So here's my demand to every bar serving craft beer (macro brews and shaker pints deserve
each other) - serve the proper beer in the proper glass, and at the proper temperature!
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Well Gina you are passionate when you get on that soapbox. Needless to say, I do understand
that glassware makes a difference. And I completely agree that a tulip type glass helps preserve
a beer’s head and allows for more aromatics. But Isn’t there some value in a glass that is short
on pretension and long on simple function?
Look Gina, steins, mugs, tulips, and goblets, from a technical standpoint, are not all that different
from a shaker pint. They hold beer. It's that simple. Will you admit that sometimes a shaker
glass is perfectly fine when all you want to do is enjoy drinking a good beer and not act like a
beer judge with every sip? If you spend too much time worrying about the appropriate glass
you'll miss what beer is all about - fun.
You make an interesting point that the common nature of the shaker pint leads to a disrespect of
beer in general as opposed to wine. But, why can't beer be respected and treated as seriously
as wine, and yet without the pretentiousness that many feel accompanies the wine culture? Of
course all wine drinkers are not snobs but many are and that's a determent to wine in general. I
don’t want beer going down that path. Gina, I'm strongly in favor of anything that removes the air
of exclusivity and pretension from the craft beer scene. Yes, beer geeks can be as obnoxious as
As for the bars it's clear that the easy stacking and durability of the shaker pint can help keep the
cost of glassware down. Those savings just might be passed to the consumer in the form of lower
prices for high quality beer. I admit the cynic in my doesn't really believe that but you never
know. On the other hand, would you pay the same premium that wine drinkers pay for their
special glasses and wherewithal that make up their elitist drinking experience?
Can you agree with just saying that a shaker pint is okay depending on the time, place, and what
you are looking to get from it? It would not be my glass of choice at a serious beer tasting but it's
what I'd want sitting at the bar watching football.
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.