Sunday, 18 December 2016

My favourite glass comes back!

This beer glass, holding my beloved Nickel Brook Headstock IPA, was gifted to
me by my Nickel Brook buddy Tony Cox. Now, actually, it's a Samuel Adams'
beer glass but I usually turn it around for my beer pictures because as you can
see, on the back it says: "Take pride in your beer." I like that sentiment. But I
broke this one so I put in a frantic text to Tony to see if he had a replacement.
Once upon a time... in a galaxy far far away... someone once gifted me with a pair of Spiegelau glasses. For those who are unfamiliar with that beer glass style (there's an example below), these particular glasses were meant to revolutionize the way we Beer Geeks enjoy our IPAs.

I remember Beer Bro Stevil St Evil being so pumped that he had found some Spiegelau glasses that he actually did a video review of the glasses when they landed onto his craft beer scene in Wellington, New Zealand.

The idea behind the glass was that it was constantly aerating the beer every time you tilted it for a sip, in essence, kicking the carbonation back up and re-releasing the hop aroma with your common "aim for the pie-hole" beer-drinking movement. This particular miracle of Glass Science Wizardry was due to the fact that the stem of the glass was ribbed - the part of the glass that Stevil actually described as the "butt plug" stem. The glass was actually created back in 2012 when US craft giants Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head teamed up with glass-making company Spiegelau to create "the ultimate IPA glass."
Okay, THIS is a Spiegelau glass, meant specifically for
IPAs. After breaking the previous two I owned, I was
actually excited to see this style pop up in Collective Arts'
glass selection. Not because it's a Spiegelau but rather
that is a Spiegelau with Collective Arts' branding on it.

Now, I'm not sure how much stock I put in a particular glass shape either enhancing or distracting from a beer's quality when being enjoyed. Well, actually, that's not true. I put zero stock in such claims. But because trends are... trendy, I guess, Beer Bro Glenn and myself found ourselves as new owners of a pair of Spiegelau glasses one warm Easter weekend on the patio at Donny's Bar and Grill several years back. A friend brought them to us both as gifts. So Glenn and I had the latest in highly-lauded IPA glasses. For the record, that day, both Glenn and I eschewed our fancy new glasses and opted to choose glassware from my son's superhero collection instead. (I know you want to know - Glenn went with Captain America while I chose Batman.) While Glenn and I were both happy with the gift because of free stuff reasons, we both had the same complaint - with its unusually thin glass, the Spiegelau seemed very fragile. And true to form (for us), we had both broken our individual pairs within six months - though that might speak more to our clumsiness than the glass' sturdiness.
That's my buddy, Tony Cox, on the left,
posing with Canadian crooner Matt Dusk.
Truth to tell, I don't know who Matt Dusk
is so I had to Google him. He's apparently
a jazz singer of some renown. Good to
know but irrelevant to beer glasses...

Now I would have been distraught over the loss if I even had a sliver of belief that the glasses were all that and a bag of chips. But I didn't and frankly, I soon acquired a new favourite go-to beer glass, anyway. I stopped into my local Nickel Brook Brewing to refill my growlers with some tasty-ass Headstock IPA one afternoon and my long-time Nickel Brook buddy, Tony, spotted me from the production floor. He came out with a bag, handed it over to me and simply said, "Here, I got you some beer glasses." Happily accepting the gift for, once again, free stuff reasons, I took the bag home and checked it out there. Inside were two Okanagan Spring Brewing (Vernon, BC) draft glasses, the same style as used in bars and a Samuel Adams (Boston) beer glass. I instantly fell in love with the Sammy A's glass, shown up top. To me, the shape was similar to the Spiegelau (without the ridged butt plug element) but it was super-sturdy with thicker glass.

From that day forward, it became my all-time, go-to IPA glass. Oh sure, I know I poured other styles into my Sammy A's glass but for IPAs, that glass was a must. I happily used it for years until recently, when I accidentally knocked it off my bedside table. (Of course, I take beer to bed. Don't you?) So I fired off an emergency text to Tony asking if he had another. Turns out yes, he did. When he traveled to Calgary some time ago, the local liquor store had six-packs of Samuel Adams Boston Lager with the glasses attached as a bonus. So he had a healthy handful of them. Or at least he did.

As you can see, my Samuel Adams beer glass comes with
its own schematic diagram, explaining its efficiency in
delivering the maximum threshold for beer deliciousness.
It seems his lovely wife, Charis, was doing Spring Cleaning one day and decided the beer glass collection was hugely over-populated in the glass cupboard. Since Tony has more than enough beer glasses, he didn't mind her thinning the herd a little. So she collected a bunch of them up and took them to the Value Village (like a Salvation Army store) just down the street from Nickel Brook. "If you want more," Tony offered, giving me a new one, "that's where you'll find them."

No, I decided, one was plenty. I have a cupboard full of beer glasses so duplicates and triplicates seemed unnecessary. After all, the Spiegelau Twins died in beer-related accidents and I barely batted an eye. If the Spiegelau Twins were on Star Trek, they'd be dressed in red ensign shirts, which signals the fact your short life can be measured in TV minutes. Except for Chief Engineer Scottie, who, despite wearing the red shirt ensign shirt, was just too damn Scottish to die. They're like thistles, those Scots. But none of this has anything to do with the fact that my main man, Tony, not only gave me what would become my favourite glass, he also replaced it when it broke. That's why he's such a great friend.
Seems like an innocent enough picture, right? Two of my
favourites beers when I visited a friend in the Summer.
One, the Golden Beach Pale Ale, meant for the daytime
when all the kids were still up. The other, Smashbomb
Atomic IPA, for the adults-only night-time. But no, it was
the macro glass in the middle that got some attention...

But because I am constantly posting beer photos on Instagram (to the exclusion of pretty much everything else in my life), the glass issue raised its humourous head. I included one this past Summer when I visited my life-long buddy Johnny in Whitby. It featured the two beers I would be drinking that day - Sawdust City's Golden Beach Pale Ale, a dynamite 4.5% session ale, goosed with four different hops. That would be my mild beer for the day where all our kids were up, splashing in the pool. But for the night, when the kids were inside, watching movies and chilling, my patio fare shifted to Flying Monkeys' Smashbomb Atomic IPA, a 6%, 72 IBU (international bitterness units) hop-blast for the adult portion of the evening. Surveying Johnny's glasses, I could find only two different beers ones - a number of Budweiser glasses since that's his beverage of choice and a lonely Miller Genuine Draft glass. I opted for the MGD as back before my craft beer journey begun, that was my beverage of choice when I flew down to Las Vegas. Also, it looked cleaner.
A trip to Johnny's earlier in the Summer proved with
absolute certainty that I am not afraid to pour a really good
beer into a bad beer glass. In fact, when he spotted the
Miller Genuine Draft pic, Drunk Polkaroo suggested we
all use a macro glass to pour our micro beers into one
day just for fun on Instagram. This would be my entry... 

But that MGD glass caught the attention of Twitter-Instagram buddy Adam (@thebrewhead) who jokingly suggested to another buddy, Robert, aka Drunk Polkaroo, that the next time he visited me, he was to "Smash this glassware." Now granted, it's not my glass but in all honesty, I do have some macro glasses so far in the back of the cupboard that they are seldom, if ever, used. They include some from Molson's, a couple of Keith's glasses. some Stella Artois goblets. And all of these macro glasses have one thing in common. They were stolen from bars back in my macro-drinking days. Because let's face it, when you'll drink anything, theft is a much smaller concern.

But Polkaroo had an equally-hilarious response, noting to Adam, "But it's what is indie glass that is the most important, isn't it?" Indie... glass... you see what he did there. The issue came up again when another buddy, Paul The Beer Guy, posted a pic, using a stemmed low glass that looked like the kind in which a restaurant would serve you breakfast orange juice.
This Detroit Beer Company glass, gifted to me by my high
school buddy Cheesy, is a staple in my beer photos. For
one, I really like the logo. Further to that, the draft-style
glass holds about 20 ounces (591-ml) so it's good for any
tall boy or 500-ml (a popular size) craft beer offering.
Also, it says "Detroit" and that alone means a lot to Greg.
One of his buddies was like, "That glass!" This time it was me, jumping in to note, "Meh, it's a glass. It's doing its job." But it was Paul himself who noted the teasing was deserved as he was well-known among his peers for his craft beer glass collection.

But that lead me to ask Paul, "Exactly how many craft brewery glasses do you own?" Paul answered that it was 70-plus but that his collection paled in comparison to Polkaroo's. So the same question was put to Polk, who answered it was about 150-plus in his collection. "I have no shame," he grinningly confessed. Well, I've known Polk less than a year but I would suggest what he does have, instead, is an insane amount of cupboard space. TV's master contractor Mike Holmes couldn't build cabinet space quickly enough to keep up with Polkaroo's collection. But then it also dawned on me that both Paul and Polkaroo were showing true hard-core support for Ontario craft brewers by buying their glassware and related products, as well as their beer. I, on the other hand, was not.
Okay, when I saw this inverted tulip glass at Great Lakes
Brewery in Etobicoke, I knew that it was coming home with
me... along with their fine beers. The collection is growing.

I mean, I do have a dozen or so craft brewery glasses but all of them were given to me. And some of them - Mill Street and Okanagan Spring - can't even be classified as craft due to their ownership. During all those many visits to breweries, it never once dawned on me to buy a glass. In my mind, I had plenty of beer glasses so why buy more? And it wasn't just me who thought that way.

When my son, David, visits, one of his chores is putting away the dishes. Now last May, we had a mini high-school reunion and my buddy, Greg, aka Cheesy, brought me a whole bunch of beers from Motor City Brewing Works in the Detroit area. As well, he tucked a few T-shirts into the mix and some glassware from the brewery, as well as Detroit Beer Company glasses and some etched-logo Carlsberg glasses. Poor David was here when I unwrapped them all and nearly had a meltdown. "Daddy, we don't have room for all these glasses!" he exclaimed. So I went to the plate cupboard on the other side of the sink and saw dozens of glasses that were over there on an upper shelf, sitting in that spot simply because they were never used.
There was absolutely NO WAY I was leaving Halifax
without a glass from Greg Nash's Unfiltered Brewing.
Visiting that hop-laden locale has been a dream of
mine ever since I heard of the budding brewery. Also,
is that not the coolest brewery logo you've ever seen?

"How about if I get rid of all these glasses," I negotiated, "to make room for the new ones?" David thought about it for a few seconds and simply replied, "Okay." So that's what I did. You see, when it comes to craft beer glassware, Tony from Nickel Brook is not the only one who answers to a higher authority.

And since that time, I have been adding a craft brewery glass here and there to bolster my collection. I know that I'll never have the shelf space to attain Paul The Beer Guy or Drunk Polkaroo levels of glassery. But I feel like I'm doing my extra bit for craft breweries in my own way.

As you can see from the photos above, I have found myself a few beauties, including a new Spiegelau glass that means far more to me than the old ones simply because it has a Collective Arts logo on it. A recent visit to Great Lakes Brewery saw one of their inverted tulip glasses come home. I just got a Beau's All-Natural Brewing glass, as well as one from my all-time favourite Oakville brewer, Cameron's. And there was no way I was going to my niece Genny's wedding in Halifax without a side-trip to Greg Nash's Unfiltered Brewing, as well as coming home with one of his glasses. So Paul and Polkaroo, I'll never catch you two. But at least I'm in the race now, boys. Guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...