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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Personal Voyage

Personal Voyage in…glass?

Let’s face it, despite the increased quality and diversity of beers as a result of the re-emergence of craft brewing in the United States and elsewhere, our cool thirst quenchers will never be accepted as the social equal of the grape.  The wine served at a dinner can make or break the meal.  Your social standing can rise or fall as a result of selecting the right wine. 

Beer does not have such power and for that I am actually thankful.  I can relax with my beer, it compliments its surroundings, and beer invites a bit of experimentation.

One thing, however, that I believe that can be taken from the devotees of the grape, though, is the issue of glassware.  The right glass helps to bring the other senses to the party, especially the smell and the texture.  Being able to take a nose of a hoppy IPA enhances the flavor.  Guinness is better in a pint glass than a pilsner glass. (Guinness is always better on draft, but the delivery method is an argument for another day.)

For the moment, I find that my favorite all-around glass is the class pint glass.  Now I am sure that there is a whole science to which types and shapes of glasses are better for different types of beers and we’ll explore it as we go along.  A simply shaped, wide mouthed, unadorned thick clear glass is the way I like to take most of my beers because it really does them justice.  Is it the best for lighter beers?  Not really, but it feels good in my hand.

I drink mostly bottled beer at home.  As such, I don’t really use a true pint glass.  My current favorite is actually a 13.5-ounce tumbler called the Kartio. Simple, clear, clean design, originally done in 1958 by the Iittala design house of Finland, I happened upon it through a series of serendipitous connections.

My wife exposed me to Iittala glassware.  She had received a really cool vase for tulips called the Aalto.  A simple wavy design, it really captures important elements of Scandinavian design for me.  My family had had pretty traditional American taste in glassware and tableware, so it was fun to explore the Scandinavian design palette through my Swedish wife and living in Stockholm.

After my Mom passed away a couple of years ago, my Dad began to develop some new social outlets with people in his retirement community.  For Christmas one year, I decided to get him some new cocktail glasses (Mom had used juice glasses for years) to compliment his renewed social calendar.  So, I found some nice looking glasses on the Fjorn Scandinavian site and ordered him a set of four.  (By the way, Fjorn Scandinavian has great customer service – when one of the glasses arrived broken, they sent two replacement glasses immediately for free!)

My Dad passed soon after that Christmas.  When my wife and I were cleaning out his apartment, I ran across the glasses and put them aside to keep.  Cleaning out the apartment was hard work, so one night a cracked open a cold Sam Adams and poured into the Kartio tumbler.  From that point, it’s been my beer glass of choice.  I purchased a couple of more when we got home to create a set of eight.

When I write up my beer reviews and preferences, you can bet that a lot of them will be influenced in part by my collection of Kartio.

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