Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

A detailed look at the Sam Adams beer glass

By William Brand
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 at 8:52 pm in Uncategorized.

Sam Adams Beer GlassHave you seen or tried the Sam Adams beer glass? When Boston Beer Co. released this unusual glass last year a lot of people snickered. I ignored it.

But after talking with Grant Wood, a longtime brewer at Boston Beer’s test brewery in Boston, I’m intrigued. Grant hosted a three-course beer dinner last week at the Monk’s Kettle, the excellent new Belgian-style pub and cafe in the Mission in San Francisco. (This is a most excellent little pub with an eclectic, wide-ranging beer list. If you haven’t visited, do so soon. Read about the Monk’s Kettle here). Before we got to the beer, he talked about “the glass.”

Wood has been brewing at Boston Beer for 13 years, producing many of the special barrel-aged beers that are ultimately blended to make Utopias. He said they tried about 100 glasses of different shapes over a six month period before they settled on the proper shape for the Sam Adams glass.

He points out that the top of the glass is a tulip shape, much like a traditional Belgian beer glass, which concentrates the aroma for the drinker. The rim of the glass turns outward which creates turbulence as the beer passes over it.

In addition, the bottom of the glass is scored, which creates a nucleation point. The beer sloshing over the depressions etched by a laser releases bubbles of carbonation which rise to the top of the glass, delivering more aroma to the drinker. If you look at the glass from the bottom, you can see a ring of bubbles flowing upward from the scoring, he said.

I looked; it’s true.

Oh yes, the lower half of the glass is narrow, which makes it easy for the beer drinker to hold. Most of the beer is in the tulip-shaped bowl at the top, so your hands won’t warm the beer too much.

“It a glass designed specially for Sam Adams Boston Lager,” Wood said.

You can buy the glasses on the Sam Adams Web site, four glasses/r $30. But a Sam Adams Bay Area rep said the Beverages & More chain will begin selling the glasses soon, most likely for $4.99 each.

The beer dinner, prepared by Monk’s Kettle chef Kevin Kroeger was excellent. The desert was stunning: The menu said it was – Chocolate fondant cake served with a Samuel Adams stout chocolate creme anglaise. Paired with Samuel Adams Cream Stout. It was a moist chocolate cake with a liquid chocolate center. Wish I had another piece right now. Cheers.

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  • ChipperDave

    I also went to one of the Sam Adams beer dinners last week, only in Denver. Bob Cannon, one of the brewers from Boston Beer, was our host. I managed to get a few of those Boston Beer glasses. I’ve tried them out at home and they work well on the beers I had at home. The circular bubble action from the etchings on the bottom look nice. While the glass itself seems a bit odd shaped, it does make a nice addition to my glass collection. Our dessert was much different, a vanilla cherry beer float made with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. Tasty.

  • William Brand

    Yeah, I have one glass and I find myself using it a lot. The bubble thing;s kind of weird. One thing I didn’t mention. Grant Wood said it holds a pint — 16 ounces. Haven’t measured it yet.

  • Mario (Brewed for Thought)

    I’ve been intrigued about this glass for a while. It prompted me to blog about my own glass collection but I have yet to encounter this glass in person. It annoys me to see many places advertise Sam Adams featuring this glass and none actually have the glass.

    By the way, just saw a commercial last night touting a Budweiser glass. Didn’t see a breakdown of the features like Sam Adams provides, but I wonder if this is a trend here in the States.

  • brewnot

    I bought some of the Sam Adams glasses. My fellow workers thought I was stupid. “A glass can’t make a difference”. I told them I knew putting a glass in the freezer to chill/frost the glass killed the flavor, so there could be something to the Sam Adams glass.

    Long story short, after work we did a beer glass taste test. All present agreed:

    1- A frosted glass kills the flavor. A glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was rendered to a Bud lite type of flavor. That is a lot of flavor destruction.

    2- A room temp glass presented the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as we are used to it.

    3- The Sam Adams glass brought up aromas and flavors not present in the conventional glass.

    Every serious beer drinker should have a couple Sam Adams glasses. Trust me. I like beer.


  • JivinIvan

    The real question is how much of a difference does it make? Honestly, it just sounds like smart marketing.

  • JivinIvan

    *Didn’t see the post above*

    Question: How much of the taste really came from the glass and not placebo?

  • Mario (Brewed for Thought)

    I just bought a few tulip glasses at Cost Plus (labeled as Poco Grande, who knows) and I can say the proper glass does make a difference. I had a bottle of Fin Du Monde out of the new glass and the difference in aroma is significant.

    $30 for 4 glasses may be a bit much, but if you’re paying $5 for one, is it really that big of an investment even if it is just a small improvement in the experience?

  • brewnot

    Quote JivinIvin:

    Question: How much of the taste really came from the glass and not placebo?

    Fair question. I cannot disagree. But everything about drinking beer (other than true double blind taste tests) are subject to being skewed by anticipations, expectations and prejudice.

    All you can do is try one of the SA glasses. To me the difference was so noticeable, any one should taste the difference.

    And while not a pure test, all 4 taste testers wrote down their impressions independently and all 4 tasters had the same general description of perceived change.

    If BevMo starts selling them, I can promise you have done dumber things with $4.99 than to buy quality glassware in the name of enjoying your beer.


  • William Brand

    I really like the glass. It presents the beer nicely, bit head of foam that clings to the lip at the top and once I noticed it the ring bubbles consantly rising through the beers is interesting and fairly unique.

  • JivinIvan

    I might actually just splurg $5 for the glass, if anything, it definitely looks cool. It’s advertised solely for the Sam Adams Boston Lager, but I’m assuming that any beer will do (?).

  • brewnot

    JivinIvan Says:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 11:55 am

    “I might actually just splurg $5 for the glass, if anything, it definitely looks cool. It’s advertised solely for the Sam Adams Boston Lager, but I’m assuming that any beer will do (?).”

    If you can find it retail for $5, go for it. No doubt. Beyond that I will be conservative about telling others how to spend their money.(grin)

    You can find SA special glasses on Ebay. (double check the shipping & handling charges)

    Some beers I prefer in a the more conventional glass. The old standard is the heavy 16 oz straight sided slightly V-shaped bar give away type glass. Also common at BevMo.

    I could tell you what differences I perceive, but there is no fun in that. Try this. Fill you regular glass with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, fill a Sam Adams glass with the same. (If you have a different old familiar or stand by beer, use that instead) Drink back and forth. What do you taste?

    Throw a glass that matches your regular beer glass into the freezer and frost it. What that does to you beer?


  • William Brand

    I;’ve gotten bored with regular straight-sided glasses. I use the Sam Adams glass for most any beer. I also have a couple of Chimay chalices that I like for Belgian and Belgian-style beers. Tend to use them a lot.

    I don’t think the beer tastes different in the Sam Adams glass. It just gives you a nice presentation.

    I’ve asked BevMo’s beer buyer when the glasses are going to be stocked. She hasn’t replied. When she does, I;ll post the info.

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  • Andrew

    I am enjoying the “perfect pint” glass right now. I decided to test with SA Impereal series Imperial Stout. Though this is a heavy beer, I decided to start with one straight from the bottle which was good but nothing outstanding. For my second, I used my SA glass. This became a totally different beer. Strong malts and rich chocolate and toffee aromas emerged. It’s like the glass woke the beer up. I just wonder how many great beers I have underestimated without this glass

  • Kevin

    I’ve been using the glasses for about a year now. I think the glass definately releases more aroma from the beer. Smell is 90% of taste anyway so more aroma = more flavor.

  • pat smith

    Glad to see Belgian glassware mentioned. The tulip shape, bead rim and laser etching are all 3 hallmarks of the Duvel glass.

    The apparently sharp crease near the bottom doesn’t make sense to me. Why couldn’t they create a smooth curve down to the bottom?

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  • Mark F.

    It could be that some of the listed features could be a little marketing hype but I found that the lip of the glass, being curved outward (like the flange of an upside-down bell) was extremely comfortable in my mouth. To me that alone added to a better drinking experience. I tried the glass for the first time at a resaurant and I was very impressed. I am thinking of purchasing a set for the holidays.

  • Jody

    My husband and I went to a Sam Adams hosted party last night and fell in love with the new glass. We tried beer out of a regular pint and the new glass and the new glass beer tasted MUCH better.
    We are going to try it with other beers tonight.

  • brewerboy

    Just got 4 of the glasses, looking forward to testing them out. Possibly blind but haven’t been able to figure out if the glasses are dishwasher safe. Can anyone here say for sure?

  • nebuer

    These are not dishwasher safe! (but otherwise awesome)

  • Bonnie

    Wish I’d known they weren’t dishwasher safe. We washed them once and all the white printing except the “D” on 1 out of 4 glasses disappeared. Glasses are great but the white paint needs work.



  • Joe

    I special ordered this glass, From a near by wine and beer shop. I honestly have to say, I could not tell the difference whatsoever. Im a die hard Samuel Adams Boston Lager fan!! But the other beer glasses I drink it from, Are just as good, If not better. I`m sure, That great care went into this new glass. However, My taste buds did not jump for joy, after giving it a go.


  • Charlie

    For centuries perhaps even a millenia, beer drinking civilizations have had various recepticles in which to consume said beverages. There is thought and craft that goes into producing the right container in which to consume beer. In Bavaria, different types of beer are drank in different types of glasses. From a Hefeweizen to a pils, the right glass makes a difference.

  • Shalon

    Just picked one of these great glasses up at the local package store. As I lady I loved the way that the glass looked and that is why I bought it but after pouring my favorite Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout into it I absolutely love it!!!! The way the top of the glass slides into my mouth definately adds to the taste of the the beer. Now this is a great beer after all, but I do think the glass has added to my enjoyment of it tonight. Rock on Sam Adams!

  • InfoMan

    Hey guys i just got 2 of these glasses at my local S&V(not sure if its a national chain) for free with the purchase of a 12 pack….. They are very nice and would jump on this offer(if you can find it) while it last.

  • InfoMan

    Last post forgot to add that these are the 25th anniversary glasses and thats why they are free with a 12 pack. They say 25th anniversary on them and are limited time so jump on them if you read this. CHEERS GUYS

  • Rebecca

    My Dad and I ordered some Sam Adams beer glasses and they came without the etching on the bottom! The bulbous shape helped the aromas and taste a little bit, but the etching really does a great deal for the continous flavor boost. My husband is a glassblower who has been making bulbous beer mugs with hand-made etching on the bottoms. They make a huge difference in the flavor. Believe me in that the price of the Sam Adams glasses is frustrating to match, and just not going to happen with something that is handmade. You should definately take advantage of the SA offer because it really is worth the money.

  • Hoser

    I just bought 2 glasses and tried some paulaner oktoberfest marzen and in my tasting the glass made a noticeable difference. i could smelled citrus hints and some tropical with a better taste for it. still, i would like to try some more beers and see

  • Henry

    I got this glass for $1.99 and it is great. I use it for all beers, not just Sam Adams but i have noticed that it makes cheap beer taste more watery.

  • Jocelyn Cambier

    This glass is way too complicated for just hosting a Boston Lager; Once again, another piece of glassware that does not make any sense, but to serve the brand. Also, please, let us not forget that the creator of this glass stated not long ago (and NOBODY will ever forget that!) that “hops are to beer what grapes are to wine”. Once you make a statement like that, one may NEVER trust you with anything at any time.
    This glassware is once again another invention to create brand appeal and promotion and attention, nothing more; i tried the glass; it does not feel right in your hand and has a very poor balance, meaning it falls very easily.
    Cheers! and try mine!

  • Dbakeca Italia

    great post !!!