One Beer, Three Cups: Founders Porter

Josh Augustine, August 05, 2013 -   

I am a guy who likes drinking beer, regardless of from what I’m drinking it. I think I’d go so far as to say that I would be willing to drink beer from any vessel at all. Anything. You name it, I’ll drink beer from it.

It seems that there’s a lot of hubbub out there about what sort of vessel you should be drinking your beer from. For example, over here at BeerGraphs, we are often chided by the mainstream beer media and told, “Drink beer out of glasses, not spreadsheets in your mom’s basement NERDS!” But how do they know that beer wouldn’t taste good when sipped from a spreadsheet? How do they know beer wouldn’t taste good after my mockery-induced tears have fallen into the glass from which I’m sipping? How do they know?

I digress.

I decided I would take a step toward solving this problem, and staged a competition between three different vessels: A standard pint glass, a snifter, and a mason jar. I chose these vessels because I own them and was willing to rinse them all out real quick. I chose to fill them with Founders Porter. I chose this beer because I happened to have three of them in the fridge, and because it's 95 degrees outside today and I’m an idiot who decided that this would be a good time to drink three porters. I graded each vessel separately, and the results are as follows (note that scores are based on BeerAdvocate's weighted ratings, explained here):

Founders Porter: Pint Snifter Jar
Appearance 4.3 3.5 3.8
Smell 3.9 4.2 4
Taste 4.2 4.2 4.2
Mouthfeel 4 3.8 3.8
Overall 4.2 3.9 3.9
Weighted Average 4.125 4.065 4.04

Some notes on each trait:

Appearance: Very dark color, pours with very little head and almost no lacing. Head gave way quickly, almost completely disappeared in the snifter, maintained a thin ring around the edge in the jar, a thin layer remained present atop the beer in the pint glass. The beer also created a small amount of lacing in the pint glass.

Smell: Roasty, maybe some very slight coffee aroma. Snifter was more concentrated, followed by the jar, followed closely by the pint glass. It seems that as the area of the brim decreased, the quality of aroma increased.

Taste: Very nice, classic porter. Pleasant roasty flavor and not much else mucking things up. Nothing fancy, just a good dark beer done well. There was maybe just a touch more bitterness from the snifter. It would probably just be a result of the more concentrated nose if so. Not enough difference to sway the score.

Mouthfeel: Full and heavy, but without being syrupy. Gently coats the tongue, but gives way quickly. The very small amount of head retention in the pint glass seemed to make a very small difference, lightening the mouthfeel just a little bit, which I liked.

Overall: In this case the head retention and resulting mouthfeel resulted in a slight advantage for the pint glass. Ultimately it's a very, very good beer that I'm happy to simultaneously drink three of.

Even though it's not by a huge margin, the pint glass comes out ahead of the pack, which jives with BeerAdvocate’s glassware standards. It looks like the system works! Hopefully this will get some of those big-wig beer journalists off of our backs. We can enjoy beer consumed from glasses just as much as beer consumed from spreadsheets!

Ultimately, this was a fun (for me, at least) and hopefully interesting experiment into how glassware affects the traits that we use to judge beer. I'd honestly never tried the same beer from two different glasses side-by-side before this, and was surprised at how noticable some of the differences were. I'm certainly curious as to whether the difference is greater or lesser when it comes to other styles of beer, and would be more than happy to drink three glasses of a given beer to find out.

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