Thursday, 13 August 2009

Nice glass #1: Tulip

The straight nonic pint glass has been criticised for being macho, ugly, utilitarian, unattractive to women, too big, and a host of other things. I think most of these criticisms are unfounded, as I shall argue in a post yet to be written; but let us suppose for a moment that we could start again and decide what kind of glass we'd like to sup our beer from.

If we're abandoning the pint glass, we may as well abandon the pint. A smaller measure is easier to design an attractive glass for; in particular, a pint is too big for a stemmed glass (the appallingly ugly stemmed Stella Artois pint glass proves my point).

One kind of glass I really like is the tulip style:

In Germany, this kind of glass would be brought to your table by a waiter or waitress, placed carefully on a beer mat and possibly adorned with a little crepe-paper collar around the stem.

The question is, is our pub culture in the UK suited to adopting this kind of glassware?

There may be a reason why we have ended up with hard-wearing, utilitarian pint glasses. That's not to say things can't change, but I suspect there is more to it than just swapping the glasses out.

I can only envisage this sort of thing going down well in the kind of establishment that is wilfully un-pubby. Or at least, one which moves away from the more unpleasant and boorish features still common in the modern British pub: the blaring TV, the puddles of beer on the bar and on the tables, the men shouting at each other.

If you want more stylish glasses, you need to have more stylish pubs.

More nice glasses and some rubbish glasses will follow.


  1. My in-laws have a load of these tulip glasses, with different beer brands. I really like them, and if someone says they aren't macho, wait till you see on in the banana-sized fingers of a 6' 6" mechanic who probably doesn't need a jack to lift a car. :D

    Anyway, as you say, it's the normal type of glass for a pilsner here in Germany. I even own a few!

  2. There is a disconnect in your argument. Losing the nonic doesn't equate to losing the pint. There are plenty more elegant pint glasses.

    I wrote about this some time ago and the history of it is mentioned too.

  3. It's horses for courses in my view. A pint is grand for a proper session ale. Which shape is nicest might actually be a valid personal choice. Some like the nonic, some don't, some like the shaker style, some don't. There are some wonderful shapes out there but it can also be difficult to get oversized glasses in some shapes, which is why all mine are shakers, except for a few half pint stemmed ones.

    But, I also think there is room for consideration of other volumes for stronger beers. The move down in ABV is an interesting one, but why are we doing this at the expense of also considering smaller volumes for stronger beers?

    There are some really great session beers and there are some really awesome strong ales.

  4. Tandleman, there are many attractive glasses in the pint/half-litre region, but I wouldn't call any of them elegant as such. It's my opinion that a pint is just too big to be elegant. If you have examples to the contrary, let's see them.

    In any event, one argument being advanced commonly is that women don't like pints. I am not convinced, but for the sake of argument let's assume this. My idea was not that there's a logical connection, it was that if we're reconsidering one "holy cow" of pub drinking we might as well reconsider others.