A wry view of life for the world-weary

Straight Or Dimpled?


For the regular toper one of the perplexing questions to resolve is whether to have your favourite tipple in a straight glass or a jug, assuming, of course, you get the choice. My personal preference is for the jug. It is broader and so sits satisfyingly more securely on the beer mat. The broad opening at the top gives the beer more opportunity to breathe and allow the distinctive aromas of your brew of choice to escape and mix with the usually unpleasant aromas that now accompany modern pubs. The handles make them easier to hold whilst toping upright and prevent the beer heating up from your sweaty mitts.

I find the dimples – the patterns in the glass – attractive and there is a sense of connecting with ale drinkers from times past who would quaff their ales from pewter or ceramic pots. Sawdust on the floor and spittoons beneath the bar would complete the picture for me but for some reason the latter two features are somewhat infra-dig these days.

When I started drinking and, indeed, as far as back as the 1920s glass tankards were the normal means by which your foaming ale was served to you. The lager boom which started to take hold in the 1970s brought with it the straighter glasses made of unpatterned glass and without a handle. Lager was so cold comparatively that it was a welcome relief if the grog warmed up while your hands caressed the glass and aromatic considerations were immaterial when you were slurping liquid that tasted of chemicals.

These new-fangled glasses found favour with the landlords. They were easier to wash up or at least stacked more easily in the dish washers, were easier to stack and store and because less glass was used in their manufacture were probably a little cheaper. For the traditionalist the closure of the Ravenhead glassworks in St Helens in the early 2000s – the then only British manufacturer of the dimpled glass – seemed to sound the death knell for it but the rise in popularity in craft beers and the fashion imported from the continent of serving beers only in the glasses that advertise the brand has led to a return in popularity. And no bad thing.

Some researchers from Bristol University’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group – sounds like a good job if you can get it – have provided me with another reason to prefer the jug to the straight glass. Apparently, the shape of the glass in which your beer is served can influence the speed at which you drink.

The researchers, led by Dr Angela Attwood, asked a group of 160 people to attend two sessions at a local pub, giving some of the group hooch in a straight glass and others their drink in a curved glass. They found that those who had a straight glass were 60% slower in consuming their drink than those drinking from curved glasses.

As well as shape, the presence or absence of volume markings also seemed to have an influence on the speed of consumption. Where glasses were calibrated for volume on average it took the drinker 10.3 minutes to drink their pint whereas it took only 9.1 minutes to polish off a drink from an unmarked glass.

That settles it for me – an unmarked dimpled jug every time for me. Cheers!

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