The Latest Salvo in the Glasswares War

July 14, 2017

By Aaron Goldfarb, July 14, 2017

The craft beer movement of the ’80s, ’90s, and especially aughts was not just about injecting the world with flavorful beer made of quality ingredients, it was, just as importantly, about doing things the “right way.” About having clean tap lines at bars. About serving beers at their appropriate temperatures. Perhaps most critically, it meant actually taking the time to pour a bottle of beer into the correct glassware (always “glassware,” never just “a glass”).

This meant tossing the Corona-branded shaker pints and now using all sorts of uniquely-shaped vessels. Pokals for pilsners and nonics for IPAs and maybe tulips for Belgian ales. More glassware was soon invented, anything to improve the drinking experience (or, cynically, take a beer geek’s dollars).

Baladin Brewery’s Teo Musso helped create the TeKu in 2006; it quickly emerged as the de rigeur drinking vessel amongst the cognoscenti. A year later Boston Beer’s Jim Koch came up with the so-called Perfect Pint with a laser-etched bottom and outward-turned lip – perfect! Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada joined the fray in 2013 with their delicate Spiegelau glass meant specifically for IPAs.

The problem was, while all very cool, these fancy glasses took up way too much space.

Now we have the latest entry into the glassware wars – one that is geek-friendly yet easy to store, courtesy online glassware retailer Grandstand.

“This is a versatile glass. We see it as the new craft beverage workhorse,” marketing communications coordinator Lindsey Deiter told me, adding, “It raises the bar for the standard sixteen ounce pour.”

GrandstandIt's "perfect," and it's... stackable!

First unveiled at April’s Craft Brewers Conference, the Craft Master Grand is an earnest attempt to be a shaker pint destroyer. In other words, a superior sixteen-ounce vessel that allows for desirable “sensory enhancement” while still remaining high-quality, durable, and, most significantly for businesses, stackable. According to Grandstand, since the weight of the glass rests on the shelf and not the lip, “it’s much less susceptible to chipping and sticking when stacked.”

Collaboratively designed over an eight month period with Rastal –the German design studio known for creating “exclusive” branded glassware, like, say, the Bitburger goblet – it features a wide bowl, tapered lip, and heavy base. This makes it quite versatile, able to handle everything from coffee to cider to, yes, beer, in the way it “releases aromas and directs its contents onto the palate for an enhanced sensory experience.”

You buying all that?

I know, I know, reading about a freakin’ glass can feel like nothing more than being seduced by marketing mumbo jumbo. It probably doesn’t help that the “Craft Master Grand” sounds like the leader of some strange cult who speaks in calming platitudes (“Unpretentious yet impressive,” he notes!).

As a beer drinker, all you really want to know is if the glass does a good job of getting liquid from bar to face. Have they finally come up with a truly perfect glass that will handle every style and therefore allow you trash all your steins, chalices, and those stupid hefeweizen glasses that are too tall to fit on any shelf in the known universe? As someone lacking much cabinet space in his tiny Brooklyn kitchen, my wife can only hope so.

I was sent a four-pack of Craft Master Grands for a test-drive. Indeed, I did find it “ergonomic, sitting comfortably in [my] hand” as the marketing copy claims. Then again, I’m just as comfortable drinking beer out of a plastic Chris Mullin “Dream Team” cup I got with my Happy Meal some 25 years ago.

We wanted to create a solution that would improve the overall customer experience.”

Similar to the Perfect Pint, tiny grooves are laser-etched into the base of a glass which create nucleation points that grab then release carbonation in a steady stream of bubbles. This is said to carry aroma and flavor upward in a greater amount than typical glassware. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but it seems to work.

The Craft Master Grand is admittedly sexy, and unlike so many delicate TeKus and tulips I own, I won’t be nervous to have someone besides me wash it. This bad boy ain’t breaking unless you to drop it on a stone floor. I have to agree with Deiter, I am going to start employing this as the “workhorse” in my collection.

Unfortunately for the rest of you, the Craft Master Grand is mainly meant for bars and breweries at the moment. The minimum order on eGrandstand is for 48 pieces, at a price point of $4.22/per before taxes, shipping, and handling. Though, you can get the unit price down to $1.92/per if you order 2016-plus. That’s, of course, before you’ve added your logo, which is perhaps what this glass was most purposely designed for.

“We’ve been partners in the industry for over 28 years... which adds up to a lot of conversations about pain points, challenges, and opportunities,” Deiter told me. “We wanted to create a solution that would improve the overall customer experience and branding opportunities for our partners.”

Partners like Chicago brewery Forbidden Root, who recently got a lot of online buzz when they revealed their new branded Craft Master Grand. The Craft Master Grand offers two unique spots for your logo, on the upper bowl and around the base. Why that’s one better than most glasses!

Brewery owners can finally rest assured that Insta-like-clamoring beer drinkers will always have, ahem, #properglassware.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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