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Like wine, beer's best served in right glass

Order a craft beer at the Publick House in Brookline, and you'll get your draft in its own brewery-issued glass.

These beers look and taste different, so they are served in distinctive glasses that enhance the unique taste, aroma, and appearance that a brewer labored to produce.

An amber-brown Doppelbock lager would be poured in a slender Pilsner glass, for example; a cloudy yellow-orange Hefeweizen into a bulbous Weizen glass; a red-brown Belgian Quadrupel ale in a rotund chalice.

Publick House owner David Ciccolo is admittedly "obsessed" with beer glasses and uses more than 150 different Belgian glasses alone.

"It all begins and ends in Belgium," he said.

"If you stay at a bed and breakfast there, and they happen to have beer, the little old Belgian lady will pour whatever beer she has in the proper glass for you, because that's the way it's done there. Each beer has a glass designed for it."

Some of the funkiest glasses are embellished for style, but Ciccolo said the fundamental shapes serve a purpose -- to showcase the aroma and appearance.

While the Publick House can stock a different glass for every beer, a basic home collection can include a chalice/goblet, mug, Pilsner, pint, tulip, Weizen, Stange (a thin-walled cylinder), flute, snifter, and oversized wine glass, according to Beeradvocate.com .

The decade-old website published by Boston-area brothers Todd and Jason Alström has a page dedicated to glassware and lists beer styles that fit each glass; each individual beer reviewed on the site is also matched with glasses.

Aromatic ales need a wider opening, such as in a chalice or goblet.

You can linger over strong Belgian ale by gripping the sturdy stem, instead of warming the glass with your hand.

An etched bottom draws down the carbon, preserving the bubbles and head.

A lager's effervescence, white head, and golden clarity are best served in a tall, tapered Pilsner (or a Pokal, the stemmed, conical version).

The cylindrical Stange works for light, golden ales. A very narrow flute also preserves carbonation.

A thin-walled, curvy Weizen glass -- narrow at the bottom, wide at the top, and holding up to a half-liter -- stimulates a fragrant wheat beer's yeasty carbonation, exhibits a Hefeweizen's cloudiness, and has room for its big, dense head.

The small tulip is wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. The Beer Advocates said it "captures and enhances volatiles, while it induces and supports large foamy heads."

An oversized wine glass is perfect for sipping and swirling. And just like wine, a fine beer can be agitated. A snifter is ideal for complex, high-alcohol ales with less head, like barley and wheat wines.

Jim Koch , Boston Beer Company president, tested more than 100 different glasses for a year while the new Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass was designed.

The glass's lip lets the beer fall on the tongue's tip, so "the first thing you taste is the sweetness and body of malt, and then the spiciness and bitterness of hops," he said.

The bulbous neck was designed to maintain the head and the narrow base is meant to reduce the heat transferred from your hand.

As appreciation for beer grows, drinkers will demand a glass that fits the beer, instead of something that looks nice, Koch said.

"Everyone knows a good wine tastes better in a proper glass, and the exact same principles apply to a flavorful, complex beer," he said.

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