The Thistle Glass or Scotch Ale Glass

The thistle glass is a variation of the tulip glass designed specifically to look like a thistle. The glass is relatively tall, often holding between 15 and 20 ounces making it slightly larger than your average tulip. It features a long stem, pronounced bowl (or bulb), and is topped with flaring sides.

The design is specifically meant to resemble Scotland’s national floral emblem which provides a pretty direct clue towards its usage.

Benefits of a Thistle Glass

Like the tulip glass, the thistle glass has both formal and functional benefits. It’s pronounced bowl and flaring sides show off a beer’s rich color. The flared sides aid in head retention giving the beer something of a floral appearance – as if blooming in the glass.

These features also help with head retention (just like in the tulip glass) while the taller flared sides trap aromas in a space which delivers them easily to your nose and palate.

What Beer Goes with a Thistle Glass?

As mentioned, the thistle glass is designed to represent the Scottish thistle. That points us towards almost any beer listed as a Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy.

Scotch Ales are stronger, dark ales which tend to be on the the sweet side so you could also experiment a bit with Dark Ales or Quads if you wanted to change things up a bit.

Of course you could always just use a tulip glass in any of these cases.

Where Can I Buy a Thistle Glass?

These glasses will be a bit tricky to find.  I’m not familiar with any brewery’s that brand or package the style in the US (please let me know if you find one) and I’ve yet to see it turn up in any sampler packs.

Amazon has a 21oz “Super Thistle” for about $13 but given it’s rather niche roll in your arsenal it’s not something you really need to charge out and get.  We’ll keep this space updated if we see or learn more.

The Tulip Pint Glass or Irish Imperial Pint

Tulip Pint with a Nitro Beer
Tulip Pint with a Nitro Beer

The tulip Pint is also known as the Irish Imperial Pint or Guinness Glass. While you’re likely to see this glass a lot it’s not quite as versatile as some of the other  styles of pint glass.

This glass gets its name from it’s familiar tulip shape.  Unlike shorter stemmed tulips its top lacks a flared mouth and instead ends with walls pointing straight up.  These glasses are almost always 20 ounces but some mild variation can occur.

Benefits of the Tulip Pint Glass

Like other pint glasses the most immediate benefit is volume.  The Imperial Irish Pint holds about 20 ounces which is plenty of space for a large pour while still leaving a generous amount of space for a beer’s head.

With it’s smaller base and more pronounced bulb some people might also find it a little easier to hold than the nonic pint.

These glasses also provide a good look at a beer’s deeper colors while the wide mouth helps support head retention.  Of course it also helps with taking large sips of “Nitro” beers that have thick frothy heads.  For nitros keep a napkin handy ’cause a milk beer-mustache is in your future.

Other Notes

There are smaller versions of this glass floating around in various different sizes.  Many will be branded “Guinness” but will only be 16 ounces.

You want to be looking for a 20 ounce glass.  Due to a quirk in how we deal with fluid ounces there might even be some small variation there but that’s OK.  A true imperial pint will measure just over 19 US ounces and for our purposes that’s pretty OK.

Just avoid the 16 ounce ones.

What  Beer Goes with a Tulip Pint Glass?

Most people know this glass as a Guinness Glass so that’s a good jumping off point.  Irish Stouts are so tied to this glass it almost feels wrong to drink them in anything else.  The same goes for Irish Ales.

After that any beer billing itself with the term “Nitro” is a safe bet. The wide mouth at the top of the glass makes a beer’s creamy head and body that much more tantalizing.

This glass also works well as a utility glass for any ales or lagers poured from a large bottle.  Personally, I’d avoid lagers and keep them in something like a large pilsner or a stange but it’s not a huge deal.  You’ll have to go back to the fridge to retrieve the bottle more often but it’s worth it.

I’d also avoid beers with really active carbonation, sour beers, or beers with higher ABVs.  Those are better suited to other glasses.

Where Can I Buy Tulip Pint Glasses / Irish Imperial Pints?

These are going to be some of the easiest glasses for you to get a hold of.  Every liquor store, box store, and some supermarkets are going to have them.  Just check for either a 20 ounce volume marker or the imperial crown either on the bottom or lip of the glass.

They’re also a common inclusion in most craft beer glass sampler boxes.

The Beer Seidel or Dimpled Mug

Beer Seidel filled with Stout
A Beer Seidel or Dimpled Mug

A seidel is a wide-mouthed glass mug with thick walls and a sturdy handle.  They’re often dimpled and can be short and rounded or large and barrel shaped.

These beer mugs are made with thick, sturdy glass walls and a strong handle which makes them easy to hold and carry.  They commonly hold about 20 ounces but larger versions certainly exist.  Bigger, barrel shaped beer seidels can hold up to 44 ounces.

Seidels (especially the over-sized ones) are sometimes referred to as “steins” but steins are earthenware (vs glassware) and are much more ornate and decorative.

Benefits of a Seidel

The most immediate benefit of the seidel is it’s wide mouth.  It provides you with plenty of space for taking deep sips while getting a good sense of the beer’s aroma.  The glass’ thick walls, handle (should you use it) and short stature also provide a degree of insulation that help keep your beer at quaffable temperatures.

In practical terms the seidel is probably one of the most sturdy of all the beer glasses.  With it’s thick glass walls and handle it’s not something that’s going to be easy to break.  Due to its proportions this mug is also pretty difficult to tip over.  The glass’ dimpling also makes it easier to hold.  These glasses are pretty decent utility glasses for serving soda, floats or milkshakes to kids.

When it comes to the drinking experience there’s also something visceral about holding a beer seidel.  They feel good to hold and to drink out of.

Other Notes

Frosted mugs are great for soda, frappes, and floats.  Not for beer.

Avoid freezing or chilling seidels.  As cool beer hits colder glass condensation can form leading to unintended moisture watering down your good beer.  So skip chilling whenever possible!

What Beer Goes with a Seidel or Dimpled Mug?

Normally you’d pair porters, stouts, and german style lagers with a seidel.   Beers with strong malty flavors and lower hop profiles are also great choices.

A seidel can also be used for serving cream ales, scotch ales and even rauchbiers. Basically anything with a medium to thick body.

Where Can I Buy a Seidel?

You can find 20 oz dimpled beer mugs like the one pictured above for about $11 a pair on Amazon.  44 oz steins and can be found for around $13 a piece.

The Tulip Beer Glass

 Ballast Point Red Velvet on Nitro in a Tulip Beer Glass
Ballast Point Red Velvet on Nitro in a Tulip Beer Glass

The tulip beer glass is similar in stature to the snifter but rather than ending at a taper, it flares out at the mouth. The flaring at the top of the glass can be relatively mild or rather pronounced depending on the glass maker. Below you’ll see a variety of different tulip glasses.  They’re all tulip glasses but they’re slight variations are worth examining.

You may notice that the term “tulip” is also used to describe other types of glassware.  Glasses like the tulip pint glass and Stella Artois’ Tulip Chalice either end mid bulb or round back in slightly.

Benefits of the Tulip Beer Glass

You’ll usually be using the tulip glass for beers which pour with thick foamy heads or lots of effervescent bubbles.  The bulbous body and tapered neck of the tulip beer glass helps to support this head and capture volatiles in and around the glass’s mouth.

When you’re drinking from this glass you’ll be able to pick up on some of the beer’s more subtle characters which might otherwise be overwhelmed in a glass with a larger mouth.

What Beer Goes with Tulip Beer Glasses?

The tulip glass is also occasionally called a “Belgian Ale Glass” which can give you a clue where to start.  This glass will handle most Belgian ales including Darks, Pales and Strongs.

The glass also goes well with double and imperial IPAs.  Because it focuses subtler characteristics, it’s great for picking out hoppy or floral notes over some of the alcohol bite that comes with the finish.  The same is true for wild ales and farmhouse ales.

A modified, or tweaked, version of the tulip beer glass is the thistle glass.  If you don’t have one of these the tulip will serve well for Scotch Ales as well.

In all, the tulip glass is pretty versatile!  There are some that even argue it may be the only glass you need in your collection … but where’s the fun in that?

Where can I buy a Tulip Beer Glass?

Libbey has a great starter set called the “Libbey Craft Brew Sampler Clear Beer Glass Set.”  This set includes a “Belgian Ale Glass” which is essentially a taller version of the tulip glass.  This set runs about $30 on Amazon but can be found for around $20 in places like Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

La Chouffe, Duvel, and Tripel Karmeliet often have gift sets around the holidays which contain tulip glasses as well.

There are also sets of four Tulip Beer Glasses available on Amazon for around $15.