A criminal with a never-ending desire to take home the really nice beer glasses you come across in pubs and bars the world over, often smuggling them in coats, handbags and even once down the front crotch of a Freddie Mercury costume. Such a seasoned glass burglar am I that, ironically, I’ve now had to spend £65 on a new IKEA glass cabinet just to house my ill-gotten gains. But oh what a collection…
Most of it stems from my hatred of the crappy old standard pint glass – or ‘nonic’ – with its heavy, unwieldy shape reminiscent of a transparent council bin. And it seems I share that opinion with Spiegelau (part of Riedel Glass Works), a company with 500 years of fine glassmaking experience who are now making a new line of high quality beer glasses for your delectation.
Marking a new venture for the UK, the Spiegelau team took up shop in Borough’s own Brew Wharf (Vinopolis) to demonstrate the glasses. And Brew Wharf marks a very fitting venue indeed, marking an area of London that used to be teeming with independent brewers centuries ago.
Inside you will find an expansive space spread over several separate bar, seating and gathering areas, as well as the striking micro brewery; a relatively new component of the Wharf in which you will see an almost animatronic glimpse behind the scenes of the in-house brewing process. Frankly, I had always thought Vinpolis was all about wine, but Brew Wharf makes it clear it has more tricks up its sleeves.
As for the glasses, Spiegelau’s concept is simple: better glasses equals better beer. While my collection and I clearly agree, at least in aesthetics, I didn’t quite understand just how deeply this goes until I tried their glasses for myself. When comparing to the British nonic glass, immediately you notice how light they are, coupled to a much clearer transparency that relays the impressive quality of the glass.
At the present time, the ‘classic’ set comes with tulip, pilsner, lager and wheat beer glasses. While the last three are mostly self explanatory, the tulip is designed to best the existing glasses commonly associated with many Belgian beers. Only by sitting down and comparing side-by-side did the difference become apparent, with the Spiegelau glasses making a significant difference across the range of beers I tried. On the nose there was so much more aroma, rich with overtones of flavour, completely in contrast to the often flat and dull wafts from the old standard glass.
What’s more, the glasses remained cooler – and the beer inside more fizzy – for a longer period of time, a characteristic that I am assured is due to a particularly micro-smooth nature and the quality and thinness of the glass.
That being said, it was of course a little biased. Many Belgian brewers would turn in their grave if they knew Belgian beer was being served in the nonic glass anyway, and upon testing again at home, I didn’t see much difference between the Spiegelau tulip and the similarly-shaped glasses typically used with those beers.
However, the entire experience made abundantly clear that good beer deserves a good glass, and it is unlikely you will find any better than those from Spiegelau.
Brew Wharf Yard
Tel: 020 7378 6601
For more information, visit Spiegelau’s website