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For Better-Tasting Beer, Use a Glass

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2016

Does pouring a beer into a glass make a noticeable difference in the drinking experience?

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Many restaurants serve bottles or cans of beer with a glass alongside, or they serve draft beers in special glassware. We wondered: Is this just pomp and circumstance, or does pouring a beer into a glass make a noticeable difference in the drinking experience? We sampled three styles of beer—lager, IPA, and stout—straight from the bottle and in a glass, side by side, and evaluated the differences, if any, in bitterness, maltiness, and aroma.

We expected that a glass might make a difference for the aromatic, hoppy IPA, but we were surprised that tasters noticed that all three beers were more aromatic when sipped from a glass, even the lager. In addition, the IPA was perceived as less bitter and more balanced when sipped from a glass, while the stout tasted fuller and maltier. Why? The glass allows more of a beer’s aromas to be directed to your nose than does the narrow opening at the tip of a bottle. Our recommendation: No matter the beer, pouring it into a glass will improve the drinking experience.