Having recently tied the knot – which you’re probably sick of hearing about if you followed the genesis of my wedding beer the other month – one of the first things we added to the wedding list was wine glasses. It’s probably the single most gifted item for newlyweds, alongside functional crockery and towels. If you’re scoffing at this point, and wondering why I didn’t ensure beer glasses were top of our wishlist, truth be told I’ve got pretty much every type, capacity and style of beer glass across the known spectrum (with one exception, see later). Plus, Alcodroid be damned, we like drinking wine, and we didn’t really have a nice set of wine glasses. Because, y’know, you need nice wine glasses, don’t you?
But, well, do you? I remember back in the day, I used to drink wine from whatever mug was the cleanest, and drink beer straight from the bottle. So, essentially, if I had the capacity to make tea and possessed some kind of opener, I was also sorted for alcoholic conveyance. But; you grow, you discover subtlety, flavour, and begin to appreciate the experience of drinking for something other than to get lit up, or pass the time between lectures. Glassware becomes a thing, for the first time. Now, this period also tends to dovetail with the phase of a young person’s life when pub visits mean pinching glassware suddenly becomes an option. So, you have the motive, and the means. I’m not advocating the five-finger discount at all; yes, I have done it, but not anymore.
I happen to know one brewery who writes off glassware they send out to pubs, as a matter of course. They are finite items, after all – they get dropped, chipped, lost. Eventually the brand changes or the style of glass is updated. If people steal them to use at home, it’s an annoyance, but at least they’re drinking out of your glass and not one from that other brewery down the road. Anyway, I think there are two glasses I’ve borrowed from pubs and so far failed to return; now I’ve been lumbered with middle-aged guilt, reaching up for them in the cupboard often leads to a moment of realisation, and I bypass them for another. Yes, I really do that.
Anyway, the point of this ramble is – why do we need so many different types of glassware? My point isn’t that different glass reflects and disseminates flavours in a different way – I know that they do. It’s more that we dutifully collect and acquire all kinds, for all different forms of alcohol, until we reach to the stage I now find myself at – there’s no room in the kitchen. Having taken delivery of the wine glasses, I went around the flat and totted it all up. Excluding a small, dusty tower of vodka shot-ware, we have seventy glasses in our possession. Why on earth do two people need 70 glasses? It’s quite something. From tiny, cute on-trend sherry nubblers, to the statuesque Speigelau wheat beer glass you could keep lillies in, they are all there.
And yet, I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. There could be a time when I buy and open a bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager, for instance. And then what would I drink it out of, if not the Sam Adams Boston Lager glass? When I crack the cap on a pithy, high-abv IPA, and dutifully dole out a small weeksize sample, why shouldn’t I have a choice of stemmed thirdware to hand? I mean, I have my favourite glass (the trusty Speigelau snifter). That will do pretty much any beer – and wine or spirits, come to think of it. In fact, the first thing I thought of when the wine glasses arrived was ‘Oh, they would be good for beer, too.’
In fact, the more I think about this, the more I realise that the problem lies, not with the range and availability of beer-related glassware, but with me. The days of drinking beer from the bottle have gone – I mean, I even carefully decant canned beer now, for heaven’s sake – but drinking at home, that supreme moment of controlled enjoyment, can be optimised with a simple reach to a high-shelf. If I have to throw away a few mugs or pasta bowls to make room for new glassware, that’s not a problem, right? We don’t need all those spices either, do we? Thanks to the Lagunitas takeover the other week, I now have a mason jar in my life. Once I acquire an Orval chalice, my collection will be complete.
Except, though, it never will…