Julia Herz, publisher of craftbeer.com, has written an article asking “Should the Shaker Pint Glass Go Away?” She makes the point that beer served in stemmed glassware “goes flat less quickly, stays at the preferred temperature longer, and appears to be fuller-flavored and more aromatic.” She also presents some arguments from Dr. Michael Lewis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of brewing science at U.C. Davis. Dr. Lewis disdains the shaker pint so much so that he presented a paper counting the ways at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.
As someone who almost always drinks out of a snifter or a New Belgium globe, I do understand that glassware makes a difference. Truth be told, the only day in which I pull the shaker pint from my cabinet is Sunday while watching football (maybe it’s fitting that I use an inferior glass while watching an inferior team, but that’s neither here nor there). Despite this, I can’t help but feel that the shaker pint isn’t being given a fair, well, shake.
One of Dr. Lewis’ points is that the shaker pint “cannot contribute in any significant way to enhancing the consumer’s experience.” In comparing a shaker pint with a tulip glass, he notes that the latter preserves a beer’s head and allows for more aromatics, and with that I completely agree.
But I ask you, is a beer’s aroma, head retention and overall presentation all there is to the consumer experience? Isn’t there something to be said for how the glass feels in your hand, or for enjoying beer for beer’s sake, without overly critiquing every little nuance that specialized glassware might provide? Isn’t there something to be said for using a vessel devoid of all pretension?
If I’m on my couch watching football, I’m not going to spend as much time analyzing a beer’s aromatics as I am the game itself, or the company I’m watching with. If I’m in Munich, I’m not going to request that my Marzen is served in a tulip glass or a snifter – I’m going to hoist my beer high in a dimple stein with everyone else, even if a dimple stein adds no more to the consumer’s experience than a shaker pint does. This is true of many other popular glass styles. Stanges, nonics, steins, mugs and goblets, from a technical standpoint, are not all that different from a shaker pint. But like a shaker pint, they often feel right in the hand, seem appropriate for the style or call to mind simpler days when enjoying a beer and analyzing a beer were not the same thing.
There is a time and place for all things, including the shaker pint. And there is more to “the consumer’s experience” than the aromatics or head retention of whatever you may be drinking. For that matter, there is more to the experience than the beer itself. Focus more on the glass in front of you than the place and people around you, and you’re likely to miss that.