30 September 2010

The Aesthetics of Beer

The other day I was reading Beer and Philosophy: The Unexamined Beer Isn't Worth Drinking (Philosophy for Everyone) on my iPhone (because, one, I am too cheap to buy a Kindle (Please, feel free to buy one for me! See the right column.); and two, nothing goes better with a pint at the pub than a collection of essays on philosophy) and I found myself lost in a discussion of how a beer should be served, written by Dale Jacquette.
Beer must be drunk from a glass designed specifically for beer. . . We are intended by God and nature to drink beer from a relatively small, thin-walled glass, ideally with the brewery's coat of arms embossed on the side and a rim of silver or gold. Mugs are not appropriate because they interpose to thick a barrier between the liquid and the lips.
He suggests an experiment. Try drinking a beer from a glass and a mug and see which you prefer. While I am doing that for myself, please continue with the rest of the post. I shall return to give you my evaluation.
Jacquette says the the Brobdingnagian liter mugs, called Maß, at Oktoberfest in Munich resemble something from the Flintstones.
The Maß is good for places with large crowds and small wait staffs, smashing together or on the table in time while singing German drinking songs with your table mates. Personally, I've always been afraid that, while I am capable of drinking a liter of beer, doing it from a single Maß would be unappetizing: By the time you reached the last quarter of the glass, sunlight and oxygen might have damaged the beer, leaving it a tepid mess. At least in Texas, anyway. The temperatures in Deutschland might be more conducive to keeping beer cold.
I have a Maß, but in general I prefer a glass with a bit of a bulb to it, and a slight flare at the rim. For casually savoring a beer, I use a Sam Adams glass or a tulip glass from Williams Brewing. If I am drinking a stout or porter, or am interested in drinking a lot of beer at one sitting, I will use an Imperial pint glass. And during the week, when I am trying to control my baser urges, I use 10 ounce shaker style glasses that I got at BNA4, in Oakland. I never use a mug for anything except display.
What about you?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:47

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