As the popularity of hugely hoppy beers continues to grow on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems only natural that we should pay a little more attention to the glassware that houses them. After all, many great beer styles from Europe have their own glassware, why not the IPA? Fortunately for us hop-heads, this is exactly what American brewers Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada set out to achieve.
With a clear understanding of how different glasses of all shapes and sizes play a huge part in how the beer tastes, and with the help of glassware specialist, Spiegelau – Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada were able to develop a new vessel designed specifically to enhance the flavor and aroma of hoppy IPA’s.
Here’s the glass in their own words:
Naturally, as a big advocate of hoppy beers – and having recently acquired a new Spiegelau Glass Set – I was keen to see if it really does make a difference. Armed with a couple of Fullers Bengal Lancers, one regular tulip pint glass, a Spiegelau IPA glass, and a notepad, I proceeded to put the IPA design through its paces. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it 😉
Spiegelau IPA glass on test
Right from the moment the beer is poured, there is a clear difference between each glass. The IPA model features a more billowing head with greater evidence of carbonation. Additionally, the aroma is far more focused, with the floral, citrus, and spicy hop notes coming forward in a much more pronounced manner. Somehow the regular glass is just more ‘generic’ – if that makes sense?
5 minutes in
The regular glass has a noticeably diminished head and aroma while the Spiegelau beer still has a thin, but consistent blanket of froth. This is complimented by a lovely bouquet of orange, earthy, and floral hop notes. Carbonation has dropped in both, but the IPA glass remains slightly stronger – this is noticeable in the mouthfeel.
Not a whole lot of difference at this point, though a faster decline in the standard pints head retention continues. The mouthfeel remains more carbonated for the IPA glass with more complex bitterness in general – lovely!
More earthy flavors are present in the standard glass with carbonation feeling rather gentle at this point.
There’s definitely more going on in the IPA glass overall.
While some head consistency remains in our IPA glass, it is now almost non-existent in the standard pint pot. Somehow the IPA glass just seems to bring about fresher flavor notes with a more robust bitterness. Also, the glass shape allows for a great swirl, which brings the head and aroma back to life more dramatically than the standard pint.
Very slight head remains on both; no discernible change in flavor. What is noticeable, however, is how much more of the standard glass I’ve consumed; this is likely down to the chunky rim that encourages less delicate sips.
Once again, a quick swirl brings a greater head back to the IPA glass for longer.
The head is all but gone from the standard glass with a lighter froth remaining on our IPA glass. Once again the IPA vessel just seems to bring out the fresh, hoppy flavors more dramatically.
The standard glass is fairly flat at this point with just a hint of carbonation. The IPA version has gentle, but noticeably more present carbonation.
Any hint of carbonation is now very subtle in both glasses. What is noticeable, though, is how the ridged section of the IPA glass promptly brings the head back to life while the standard pint looks flat as a pancake. While the primary purposes of the ridges are to aerate the beer as you sip – extra head retention is an added bonus.
One extra element I’ve failed to compare so far is Temperature. While I can’t be 100% certain which is cooler without using a thermometer, (seriously?!) the IPA glass does feel a tad cooler to the touch. I should, however, mention that the beer wasn’t overly cold to start out. (I don’t like my beers overly cold as it diminishes the aroma and flavor).
Overall, the IPA glass retains the beers qualities more consistently over the entire experience. The aroma and head retention throughout is impressive, and considering the carbonation in this beer is 100% natural through bottle conditioning – retaining any head down to the bottom of the glass is impressive.
I’d like to try this experiment again shortly with a couple of variants:
- Using an American IPA (It was, after all, designed by 2 American brewers.
- Inside instead of outside as the environment can greatly affect the aroma, and ultimately the flavor of beer.
Despite being outside, though, we have a clear winner in this experiment – your IPA will taste better in an IPA glass, fact.
Try it out for yourself
If you haven’t tried a Spiegelau IPA glass yet, I highly recommend you do. You can pick them up for a reasonable price online – let me know how you get on.
Check out the IPA Glass for yourself*
Alternatively, if you’re already the proud owner, let us know what you think in the comments.
*Full disclosure: Should you choose to purchase the IPA glass through the affiliate links provided, we may earn a small commission. There is no additional expense to you, and this is how we keep the website free. 🙂 Cheers.