And Now for Something Completely Different

Cyclist enjoying a cold beer after a ride
The author and two of his three loves

I doubt it would surprise many of you if I told you the local Thursday night shop social ride finishes at a pub.  Nor would you think it extraordinary that my favorite local shop‘s 40th anniversary party was at a brewery.  Beer and cycling seem to go together.  And if you don‘t believe me, take a look on the net for how many charity rides have beer sponsors, how many after-parties feature local beers on tap, or just check the search results for beer jerseys.

For me, riding is one way to not feel guilty about drinking a beer with as many calories as my dinner.  In addition, it keeps the high calorie beers from making their presence known on my waist (OK, somewhat).

I love craft beer!  I am fond of both the Old World traditional brewing of Germany, the Czech Republic, and Belgium as well as the no-holds-barred, why not approach of American craft brewers.  However, if I was forced to pick one beer or style to drink exclusively, it would be an IPA.

I am a hophead and proud.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was my segue into the world of craft beer.  From there, I moved up to IPAs and now can‘t get enough Imperial/Double IPAs.  So when I saw a Facebook posting that Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada had worked with a glassware manufacturer to develop a glass specifically for IPAs, I knew I would order some ASAP.

Appropriately, my first beer in the new glass was a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.  In the past, this beer has seemed more on the malty side of the IPA scale as is more common in East Coast IPAs.  In the IPA glass, the beer seemed slightly better balanced than I remembered, and it was clearly evident that the glass not only amplified the hop aroma but the shaping of the ribs on the lower portion of the glass and the etching on the bottom kept a nice head on the beer throughout, resulting in an aroma release with each tip of the glass.

Beer. Cold, refreshing, delicious beer
IPA Glasses

Dogfish is still a rarity around here, and I have to travel or order online to get it.  Because of that, I didn‘t have a large enough amount of any one DFH IPA to compare to other glassware.  No worries.  Sierra Nevada, the other developer of this glass, is distributed heavily here.  So in order to see just how well this IPA glass really lives up to the marketing hype, I picked up some Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.

I decided my comparison would consist of the IPA glass, a standard “pint” glass, a tulip Belgian beer glass, and the Samuel Adams Boston Lager glass.  In the past, I had felt that both the tulip glass and the Boston Lager glass leaned more towards accentuating the malt characteristics of beers, and I really thought that a pint glass was fairly solid overall.

The biggest surprise and disappointment of the comparison was just how bad the pint glass performed.  The beer just seemed dead in there.  There was the least amount of aroma from this glass and the second lowest hop flavor.  This glass seemed to do nothing well.  The tulip glass, not surprisingly for the type of beer it is made for, accentuated the malt characteristics of the beer while deadening the hop flavor.  The hop aroma was much more pronounced than in the pint glass, and was slightly less than the Sam Adams glass.  The Boston Lager glass struck a much closer to neutral balance between hops and malt, coming in just slightly on the side of malt.  The aroma was nice with both malt and hop characteristics coming through.  The IPA glass did let the hops shine.  Hop aroma was very pronounced with my nose even being able to distinguish different hop varieties.  As noted with the 90 Minute IPA, this aroma was sustained until the last drink, something that only the Sam Adams glass came close to replicating.  There was no doubt that the scales were tipped in favor of both hop aroma and flavor in this glass, and I honestly feel that was how the brewer intended this beer to be.  Similar to the nose, various hop flavors were also more easily discernible from this glass.  Though I was prepared to be disappointed with the IPA glass, I came away from this comparison quite happy.

These glasses hold 19 ounces; perfect for a proper pint with room left for the head.  They can be found on both Sierra Nevada‘s and Dogfish Head‘s websites.  If you are a connoisseur of the Humulus Lupulus, you owe it to yourself to grab a few of these glasses.  And if you‘re not, I have several branded pint glasses I‘m now looking to get rid of.  Cheers!

– Alex

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