Tuesday, August 14, 2012 1:01 PM EDT
Back when people took their drinking more seriously, there was a glass for virtually every cocktail: cordial glass, Irish coffee glass, zombie glass. While it’s true that most home bartenders could get by with a few highball, Collins, rocks and cocktail glasses, it’s worth taking a look at a few other, somewhat more obscure glasses, purpose-made for different drinks. In this space, I’ll periodically highlight some vessels that I’ve added to my collection over the years. Previously, I introduced the Mint Julep Cup and the Champagne Coupe. Today, my friends, we drink beer! Beer barrels image via Easy Hiker.
Uncommon Barware: Kölsch Beer Glass
Now, this is getting specific: Kölsch is a type of beer that can only be brewed (according to the appropriately and alliteratively named 1948 Kölsch Konvention) in the city of Cologne, Germany. Kölsch is a pale, refreshing, lightly hoppy beer and, yes, it has its very own glass.
These tall, thin-walled glasses are designed for quick, frequent drinking of beer that stays cold. Befitting a beer that has its own international convention, very specific rituals are involved. In Cologne beer halls, servers (Köbes) carry trays (Kranz) of Kölsch glasses (Stanges — literally, ‘rods’) pre-filled with fresh beer, replacing empty glasses with full ones until the drinker places a mat on the top of the current glass or, presumably, passes out.
My wife bought me a set of Stanges for my birthday from the unlikeliest of retailers: Lee Valley. On its website, the leading retailer of hacksaws and precision routers explains how it came to carry an obscure German beer glass: “Our buyers annually go to the world’s largest international tool and hardware show in Cologne, Germany and sooner or later each brings home a dozen (or more) of the beer glasses of the region.”
The good news is that these elegant beer glasses are also versatile: not only are they perfect mimosa vessels, they can also serve as tabletop vases. But if you want to do as the Kölsche do, get your hands on some authentic Kölsch beer (at least one brand, Gaffel, is imported to Canada — for proof, look no further than the photo above, taken in my very own kitchen!), and keep refilling your guests’ glasses until they say Onkel.