a short history of our first beer “glasses”
Clubs of America | Jan 27, 2015
Today, serving beer in the appropriate beer glass is an indication that the host has high regard for the brew he’s serving. Yes, some glasses are designed especially for specific beers. But most of us deep down really don’t care WHAT the vessel is, as long as the beer is good and your glass/bottle is squeaky clean.
In ancient times, beer drinkers like the Sumerians drank their beer from a communal bowl — they didn’t have their own glass, but they DID have their own hollow reed through which they sipped.
Mother Nature provided some natural drinking vessels that required very little modification except a cursory cleaning. Those included sea shells, indented rocks, animal skulls and large bones.
The next generation found man fashioning crude earthenware vessels, followed by others who sewed animal hides and entrails into bags and “bottels” — the forefathers of today’s bota bags.
Then the use of clay steins, pewter chalices and wooden bowls appeared, to the relief of those beer lovers with queasy stomachs. All beer to date was dark and murky, with absolutely no visual appeal. Thus, that all objects from which beer was enjoyed were opaque, was a big plus! Early man’s thirst for beer may have been stifled had they gotten a really good look at what they were drinking!
The brilliant gold Czech pilsners and German lagers of the mid-19th century were the first to be showcased in tall, thin, transparent “beer specific” glassware.
TREY ELLIS OF YORK, PA ASKS:ASK MR. BEERHEAD:
“I HAVE THIS HUGE DIMPLED BEER MUG. ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THIS GLASS?”
Is it massive, about 8″ tall, and weighs about 2 pounds empty? Does it have four horizontal rows of thumb-print-sized dimples? If so, you have a German Mass, pronounced “mahss,” meaning “measure” in German. German quaffers say each sip (make that GULP) of beer should reduce the beer to the next row. It holds 1 liter, making each “sip” equal to a hefty 8 ounces of beer!