Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spiegelau's Stein Worthy of the Big Game

Spiegelau Refresh Beer SteinCelebrating the Big Game often calls for a big glass full of your favorite beer. Why reach for just any beer glass when you can get a glass made by one of the best beer glass makers in the world? I'm talking about the Spiegelau brand from Germany. Spiegelau's slogan is "The Class of Glass" and has over five centuries of glass-making experience. Now just in time for this year's Big Game, Spiegelau has come out with a new type of beer glass called the Refresh Beer Stein, a modern beer stein with a new twist.

This reviewer is no stranger to Spiegelau glassware. During the 2012 Beer Blogger's Conference in Indianapolis, I was introduced to a whole array of Spiegelau beer glasses and was amazed at what a their glass could do for the full experience of drinking a craft beer. Their glassware was built for not only drinking beer, but also to bring out all of the flavors, the aromas and to help show off the beer's true colors. There glassware was known for its beauty and thin glass. Up until then, Spiegelau hadn't featured a big, thick glass for craft beer drinking, let alone one with a handle.

Now flash forward to 2014, Spiegelau now has a new glass design with thicker walls and a more traditional stein shape. However, this glass also has gently tapered walls at the top to help enhance the aroma and bitterness. There is also molded vertical ridges along the inside of the glass as well as a "turbine" swirl design on the bottom of the glass to help sustain head retention and carbonation.

Since I was already a big fan of their thinner craft beer glasses, I was excited to hear that they had come out with a bigger, heftier glass meant for toasting and drinking your favorite beers.

The Refresh Beer Stein is built to hold 21.8oz of beer and is 7.5 inches tall. While you probably won't be putting an entire bomber bottle's worth of beer in this glass (afterall you want leave some room for the head), it will allow you to enjoy a full 16oz of beer with ample space for a big head of foam.

Spiegelau Refresh Beer Stein Notice the foam after half a beer

I chose an American Pale Ale to test this glass with. I opened a 12oz bottle and gave it an aggressive pour into the Refresh Beer Stein. I immediately saw the full golden color of this beer and watched a big 4-finger tall head of foam rise to the top of the glass. The head on this beer seemed to last and last for a long time. Even near the end of the serving, there was still a good 3/4" of foam in this beer at all times.

What was also interesting to watch was how much nucleation of the bubbles there was in this beer. The protruding inner side edges and "vortex" bottom of this glass seemed to bring out the bubbles in this beer, and especially when given a swirl. I knew for a fact that the beer I poured had been in the bottle for several months and wasn't over carbonated when it was opened.

After enjoying half of the beer, the foamy head was still present. I swirled the beer counter-clockwise in the stein and the head seemed to re-energise and rise up to about 1 inch or so. Typically, the head on a beer disappears except for a slight small ring of bubbles around the glass, but in the Spiegelau glass it remained a good 3/4" minimum through the entire serving. I don't normally like to agitate my beer that much, but if you want to get a bit more head back into your beer a quick swirl will do the trick.

Refresh Beer Stein inside The vortex at the bottom

Make no mistake, this beer glass is not a lightweight. With the thickness of this glass, just over an 1/8th of an inch, plus the inch thick solid base, it felt very robust in my hand. Thank goodness there is an ample sized handle on this stein glass. It's a slightly oversized handle and will fit hands of any size. My hands are fairly large, but it could easily accommodate a much bigger hand as well. Regular Spiegelau glassware is very thin and could break easily if you attempt to clink glasses, but this glass' walls are much thicker and should hold up well to a spirited toast when your favorite team scores a touchdown.

The beer I chose to drink was already rated with high marks, and in this glass it tasted fantastic, even after being stored in the bottle for several months. I could easily pick up all of the subtle aromas in this beer. There was plenty of space to trap all the rich scents of hops and malt. The glass also showed off the rich golden color of the beer really well.

Next, I tried a side-by-side comparison of the Spiegelau stein with a stein I had in my kitchen. My beer stein had even thicker glass, but was much shorter and had no tapered edges or inside edges to enhance nucleation. I poured full beers into each of them and did a comparison of appearance, aroma and taste.

Visually, the Spiegelau glass had more square inch glass exposure and the color of the beer stood out more. As for the aroma, I could definitely pick up even more hop and malt in the Spiegelau glass than in my regular stein. And the taste, wow there was a difference! The Spiegelau stein had a much more vibrant taste. The regular stein tasted a bit flat compared to the Spiegelau Refresh Stein. Glass does make a difference!

Spiegelau stein with packaging

The Spiegelau Refresh Beer Stein comes individually packaged and sells for $19.90 retail and is sold at finer liquor stores and glassware stores. It is dishwasher safe and has improved breakage resistance than their regular beer glasses. If you wish to find more information about the Spiegelau Refresh Beer Stein visit:

The Pros: The Refresh Beer Stein definitely gets the advantage with the overall presentation and sensory experience with craft beer. The glass has great clarity. The handle is great and solid. The glass thickness is finally not too thin with a Spiegelau glass. The inside of the glass is quite unique with it's inner edges and swirling vortex bottom design. Despite the near $20 cost, I felt this glass would be well worth it.

The Cons: Granted, this is a tall glass and does carry some weight. I found myself needing to put the glass down often due to its weight when full. The only flaw I saw with this glass, at least with this particular glass, was that the bottom edge that touched my table wasn't perfectly flat and had a very slight shaved edge on one section. Other than that, I had no fear this glass would tip over, even with a noticeable nudge.

I plan to cheer on the Denver Broncos during the Big Game this Sunday with this Spiegelau Refresh Beer Stein. No matter the outcome of the game, I know that the beer I'm going to drink is going to taste its best in it.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary glass by Nike Communications, Inc of New York, NY. I was not paid for this article, but stated I would give an open opinion of this glassware.

Related articles:
- Product Review: Offero Omnis stemless glass
- Bloggers do more than drink beer at conference. (Featuring Spiegelau glassware)
- New Belgium's The Glass That Gives returns.

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