It makes sense really – that a dedicated beer drinker will become attached to the glasses that act as enablers. NEIL MILLER tells all.
It’s all true. I have A LOT of beer glasses. When I was planning this article – and contrary to popular opinion I do actually plan many of them – it was intended to be a simple top 10 listicle (a term I was not previously familiar with even though I was about to write one). Swiftly, it became clear that a top 10 would be way too long, so I considered splitting it into five, and, as reality and mission creep sunk in, down to two glasses to start with.
It is not that I have too much technical information about the glass styles, glass blowing techniques, or graphics; more that my favourite glasses have stories attached that exceed their aesthetic appeal or zymological prowess. These are in no particular order because that would be like picking a favourite child – everyone has one, but you cannot tell anybody.
Dux de Lux Classic – This is a classic glass from one of my favourite bars of all time. The glass, which I paid cash money for, is simple AF but brings back great memories. There were cold pints of Nor Wester Pale Ale next to hot Italian pizza. Dux was pescatarian (seafood and vegetarian) way before it was fashionable, but I did not care. The vibe was exceptionally mellow, as was the service at times. I recall sipping an ale next to a table of seniors, who were next to a gaggle of proto-hipsters, who were bumping shoulders with skinheads. All of them were enjoying themselves in the same space at the same time. Magic.
The Dux provided one of my favourite beer stories I have told many times over the years. I attempted to order a jug of Nor Wester but was declined because they did not sell beer over 5.5% in jugs. The bar manager came over for an interview later and explained the policy. Then he told a story which I love more and more with the passing of time. They had produced a new 5.5% Czech Pilsner which was flying off the tap into jugs and then quickly into patrons.
However, the manager started to ask questions about the strength of the beer based on his observations. They sent a sample to a big fancy lab at the local multinational brewery and they came back with slightly different results than the Dux lab – which to be fair was a couple of beakers and a centrifuge on a shelf. The pointy heads at the la-de-dah lab estimated the Dux’s Pilsner was between 6.8% and 6.9%. I asked the manager what raised his suspicions as he was not a scientist.
Then, he uttered possibly the greatest sentence I have heard in over 20 years of beer writing. He said:
“I noticed higher than normal instances of horseplay and nudity in the courtyard.”
How cool is a bar that has a standard level of nudity and horseplay in its public area?
Harrington’s Lord Of The Rings – At first glance this is a simple schooner but it represents a happy confluence of two wonderful things in my life – Harrington’s Brewery and the Lord Of The Rings. Let’s be clear, I liked Harrington’s before it became the official brewery of the film of my all-time second favourite book.
The family were down to earth and, reluctantly, gave great interviews and posed for photos. Their 7.2% Ngahere Gold strong lager was a very guilty pleasure and I miss it to this day. I mainly drank it at home or the local bus stop (both traditional watering holes for this bogan brew), but one day I found it at an Indian restaurant. I ordered a lot of them. Enough, it seems, to entice the entire cooking crew out of the kitchen to see the crazy white guy drinking all the beer they had probably ordered by accident. I finished the (excellent) meal off with a very decent Indian whisky. I suspect my photo is still up on their hall of fame.
Harrington’s Wobbly Boot was a popular staple at my beer tastings, often as the dark beer I felt obliged to include so it was not all pale ales. Actually, it was a thoroughly decent beer.
Harrington’s made the beer drunk on-screen in Lord Of The Rings’ pub and feast scenes. Sir Peter Jackson is a stickler for detail and wanted the characters and even extras drinking actual beer. However, given his parallel obsession for perfection and multiple takes, the beer could not be very strong. As a result, they commissioned Harrington’s to make a 1% stout which was later sold as Sobering Thought. While they did not sell a lot of the beer, they sure sold a lot of “Official Brewery of Lord Of The Rings” merchandise, including this glass to me when I visited Frodo’s brewery.
During that visit, I asked the brewer, Carl Harrington I think, how he managed to make a 1% stout. With a wizardly gleam in his big, beautiful eyes, he took me conspiratorially aside and, massive arms around my puny shoulders, he whispered: “I make a stout, and then add four parts water.”
For the record, JRR Tolkien noted that hobbits enjoy ale and porter. My research indicates that orcs tended to enjoy a quiet Jagerbomb which had been set on fire by a dragon. Elves do not drink beer but totally judge those who do. They drink mead, wine, or some flowery, fragrant, fruity combination of the two. Pointy eared bastards.
Next time, we do a virtual beer tasting.
Here’s a teaser photographic of my next instalment of ‘favourite beer glasses’.