Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Shine a light

In pictures of people drinking in the 1930s, a distinctive straight, ten-sided tankard often features. Indeed, it was adopted as a symbol of British beer for the “Beer is Best” advertising campaign. However, after the war it lost popularity to the familiar dimpled mug, and the last examples were manufactured in 1978. Although I started drinking in pubs around that time, I can’t recall ever having encountered one.

The dimpled mug itself, once perceived as aspirational, has long since fallen from favour, and the vast majority of draught beer is now drunk from straight glasses of various kinds. However, Stockport-based licensed trade suppliers Stephensons have now decided to revive the traditional lantern tankard for the 21st century, as described by Zythophile here. They were kind enough to send me a sample.

It’s a handsome, solid glass with a particularly thick base, but it fits nicely in the hand, despite apparently being slightly heavier than a dimpled mug. Of course I held it in the time-honoured fashion, by gripping it round the body, with my fingers through the handle. After all, if the handle falls off, then all you lose is the handle. As the surface area at the top is greater than that of a Nonik, the room left for the head naturally appears somewhat shallower.

I deliberately chose a pale beer – Black Sheep Golden Sheep * – to show the light filtering through the glass to its best advantage, although this is always something that is difficult to catch in a photograph. It is much better in this respect than a dimpled mug as, while you still get the jewel-like effect from the multiple facets, the lack of any vertical divisions doesn’t break up the clarity and colour of the beer. This was even more pronounced when I later tried it with a bottle of Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier.

I liked it. It certainly brings more of a sense of occasion to drinking a pint, and it would be good to see it taken up by more pubs to give cask beer a more distinctive identity.

It has also been tested out by Pints and Pubs.

* incidentally, examination of the bottle revealed that the strength of Golden Sheep has been surreptitiously reduced from 4.7% to 4.5% ABV :-(

15 comments:

  1. I love 'em. I've got an old one in the house that I use on the rare occasions I have a bottle at home. They've got a proper weighty feel and easier to grip than a dimple.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great to see younger companies are taking up older traditions! It certainly gives a drink more of an atmosphere and turns it into an experience - which is great for craft beer lovers!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not sure if many pubs will take them up. They are £2.99 each compared to 41p for a Nonic and much more likely to be stolen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's rare to see a plain Nonic in a pub now, though. Most lagers and keg beers seem to be sold in branded glasses, which presumably come with the beer as part of a supply agreement - but surely those are eminently nickable too.

      Delete
    2. what type of evil would be involved in stealing glasses? It's literally killing pubs.

      Delete
    3. We've got a dozen or so in the pub - but only trusted people get to use them as they're so much more expensive than even oversized Nonics (which are rather more than 41p!). However, they're very pleasant to drink from, and I enjoyed my Pictish Citra from one just last night. Dark beers work equally well, and I declare it the perfect glass for any beer style, as long as it's designed to be drunk by the pint! I still want something curvy and stemmed for strong &/or complex beers...

      Delete
    4. Are Nonics still common? I'm sure I see many more tulips.

      More research needed.

      Delete
  4. Another reason why a beer at home beats a pub.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Who knows? Maybe the UK will slowly become like Belgium and have a certain glass for the type of beer you're drinking. :)

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way the UK is going - most widely-distributed lagers and keg beers now have their own distinctive glassware, and family brewers such as Lees and Robinsons increasingly tend to use their own generic branded glasses. As I said, it's rare now to see a plain unbranded Nonic in a pub. The area where this falls down is of course for rotating guest beers.

      Delete
    2. Good point, and I think it would be a shame to go 100% branded glassware. Just keep an assortment of different styles on hand. But then, that might be too costly I suppose.
      c
      Slight OT but at least one brewer over here in Canada suggests the type of glass to use with each of their beers. For example, they recommend a nonic for their stout:

      http://mcauslan.com/en/beer-facts/?brand=st-ambroise-en&id=446#product-446

      Cheers

      Delete
  6. Looks top notch 🍺👍 happy to drink out of most vessels but this one looks a little bit special

    ReplyDelete
  7. Brewers are pushing the 'branded serve' to add value to the product - in other words justifying higher prices, but while they may provide the odd free box of glasses and subsidise subsequent purchases, they still cost the pubs a lot more than non branded glassware.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Several things occur to me - firstly, I don't remember this style of glass...but I like it.

    As far as cost goes, if they were mass produced in much larger quantities, the price would surely come down. Also, the weight could be easily reduced a bit - is it just me, but weren't dimpled glasses somewhat heavier in days gone by?

    However, the main problem with such a glass is the difficulty in branding it and, as discussed, branding of glassware is a key segment of beer marketing these days.

    Maybe more pubs could, like ChrisM, have a few available for the more discerning customer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They could make good beer festival glasses, but a problem is that the ten sides mean there isn't a sufficiently large smooth area to apply a logo. Plus they would need to make them in a lined 22oz size.

      Delete

Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval. See here for details of my comment policy.