As with any hobby or interest (or obsession?), you can take your love of beer to lengths that some may call ridiculous. I would venture to say that most beer drinkers, even those who consider themselves to be serious beer drinkers, don’t think about using the proper glass for a particular beer. Maybe it seems a little too much like the wine connoisseurs, who seem to have a different shaped glass for each wine.
Before you say all glasses are the same and pour your dopplebock into that plastic ballpark souvenir cup from 1998, read the Beer Advocate’s informative article on beer glassware. It seems that the shape of the glass does enhance the experience of the beer. Some shapes are better for head retention, some are better for enhancing volitiles or carbonation, some showcase color.
The different glassware types are flute, goblet, mug (stein), pilsner, pint, snifter, stange, tulip, weizen, and oversized wine glass. The good news is that the mug and goblet can be used for the majority of beers so you don’t have to buy a bunch of different glasses. To see what glass should be used with your favorite brew, check out the full list.
I have to comment on one thing:
Hand-wash all glasses. Some dishwasher will leave a residue, which may effect the head retention as well as the flavor and aroma. Use a mild dishwashing soap, and if you are really anal retentive have a separate sponge for your glass ware so there is not cross contamination from greasy food particles on a used sponge. Let them air dry, do not hand dry because the towel may leave dust particles which will affect the head retention.
I’m willing to use different glasses to enhance the beer drinking experience, but a separate sponge and air-drying to avoid dust? Uh, no.