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 Snifter or Large Cognac Glass

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout in a Beer Snifter
Pumpkin Stout in a Beer Snifter

The beer snifter is short, stemmed, glass featuring a wide round bottom and tapered top.  You can find snifters in sizes ranging from six ounces up to 22 ounces.  Beer snifters are typically in the 12- 16 ounce range.  These glasses are often made of thinner, more delicate glass but some glassware sets will have thick-walled sturdy versions as well.

This glass is also often referred to as a “balloon glass,” or over-sized brandy / cognac glass.

Benefits of the Beer Snifter

The beer snifter excels at holding some of a beer’s more ephemeral aromas and flavors in a tight space.  Its wide round base and tapered top trap everything in a space where it can be delivered directly to your nose while sipping.  This is especially true for beers with little to no carbonation.

The glass’ shape also helps with heat transfer.  As you hold the glass, warming your beer slightly, more delicate scents and flavors become unlocked.  Cold, dark beers might initially taste “like a stout” from the glass but as the beer warms and you inevitably swirl it around you’ll start to get those hints of cocoa, mocha, peet, or fruit that were hidden away.

How to Drink from a Snifter

The iconic image of a snifter typically involves a Bond villain swirling the glass between sips, maybe holding it up to the light to look inside and admire the color of what is almost certainly an evil cognac.

This is exactly how you want to drink from your snifter.  As you work your way through the beer swirl the glass slowly aerating your beer.  Take a sip, enjoy, swirl, sip, repeat.  For a good beer you’ll notice that the flavor starts to shift the more you drink and the more you swirl.

It’s very much like drinking good scotch or brandy … which brings up another point.

When pouring into a snifter keep the liquid portion of your pour (not counting the head) to just around the part of the glass where it begins to curve back in.  Yes, you may end up pouring a 12 ounce beer into three or four glasses but over-pouring kind of works against this glass’ benefits.

What Beer Goes with a Beer Snifter

You can use a beer snifter for any beer which has been aged, especially when aged in barrels. Similarly, some beers that you chose to “cellar” might be worth pouring into a snifter.

I’m also partial to using the beer snifter for dark beers that mention chocolate or coffee in their billing.  Stouts and Porters that are higher ABV (Imperial Stouts for example) will also find typically end up in a snifter.

If you’re a big hop-head you might also look to a snifter for some lower carbonation IPAs.

Where Can I buy a Beer Snifter

I’d recommend looking for snifters or cognac glasses in the 12- 20 ounce range.

A four piece set of 12 ounce cognac glasses sells for around $15.  While a four piece set of 16 ounce glasses is more like $30.

You may also find a few tulip glasses, like the one included in the Libbey set we’ve reviewed previously, are close enough to snifters to fit the bill.  Just under-pour the beer as mentioned above for best results.

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.