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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Beer Baron - You Had Me at Stout: Testing the Spiegelau Stout Glass

Post by Matt, the Beer Baron

Like many a good beer geek, I have far too much glassware. What started with a few Chimay chalices has blossomed into several shelves of everything from Aquaman pint glasses to a Westvleteren glass I had to beg the store owner in Belgium to sell me. For the most part, they are mementos from brewery tours and are all variations of a few classic beer glass styles. I’ve got countless pint glasses, tulips, chalices, shakers, steins, snifters and steins, so I really don’t need any new glasses – or so you would think.

Enter the Spiegelau stout glass. If you recall from my post about Bell’s Expedition Stout, I hold stout in high regard, especially Russian Imperial Stout. Actually, that is an understatement akin to saying the aforementioned Aquaman holds water or punching bad guys in high regard. So, when news broke that Spiegelau was following up their IPA glass with a stout glass, I was instantly reduced to an internet meme:

Since the Spiegelau stout glass was developed in partnership with Rogue Ales and Left Hand Brewing Company, I figured it would be apropos to try out my new stout glass using Rogue’s own 99/100-rated Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout. For the sake of comparison – and to drink two stouts rather than just one – I also used an American-style pint glass. The bottles were purchased, stored and refrigerated in the same way and I did my best to pour the beers at the same angle and rate.

As you can see, the stout glass encouraged more of a rich, creamy head. While what little head did show up in the pint glass dissipated quickly, the head in the stout glass remained for the better part of 45 minutes – and would have remained longer if, you know, I wasn’t thirsty.  

The biggest difference I found in comparing the two glasses was in the aromas from the stout glass. While the pint glass presented hints of coffee or roasted malts or caramel, it was relatively subtle. However, with the stout glass, everything has not just amplified, but enhanced – it became the kind of alluring, complex aroma that made you wish you could crawl into the glass for a bath. (The Clockwatching Tart herself joined in the comparison and agreed the aromas were much more complex and full bodied, so you don’t have to be a stout fiend to appreciate the difference.)

As for the taste, the biggest difference I noticed was in the mouth feel. Because the angles of the stout glass helped to create and maintain a better head, the stout glass provided a much creamier, smoother sensation. Personally, I didn’t notice a marked difference in the actual taste of the stout from either glass but because aroma and mouth feel are such important aspects of how you perceive taste and enjoy something, I absolutely preferred the stout from the stout glass. (Your mileage may vary, as they say. I’m no supertaster, so you might notice and appreciate even more of a difference.)

So, should you buy Spiegelau stout glasses? The short answer is yes; the longer answer is absolutely yes, you fool; and the less sarcastic answer is that if you enjoy stout – especially oatmeal stouts, American-style stouts or Russian imperials stouts – and you have room for and can afford a $9 glass, you owe it to yourself to get one, posthaste.

A set of two glasses direct from Spiegelau will run you $24.90. If you don’t mind labels on our glasses (which I don’t, obviously), you can save yourself a few dollars and get them from Rogue for $18.00 or get a single glass from Left Hand Brewing for $9.00. For my fellow hosers, the Canadian shipping from Rogue was pretty reasonable and the package arrived safely and quickly, eh.       


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