quite peculiar/FlickrCommercial brewers put a ton of time and research into ensuring that their packaged beers taste as if they were just poured from the tap.
But the design of a pint glasses has a lot to do with how good a beer tastes as well.
Carefully curved lips and double-walled constructions improve the presentation and drinking experience of beer, but some brewers and manufacturers are taking the design a step further by etching marks or patterns onto the bottoms of their glasses to make the beer bubblier.
This practice is becoming increasingly more common — and perhaps you've had a drink out of one of these glasses without even knowing it.
These rough etchings are called nucleation points, and their job is to disturb the beer when it touches them. This gives the dissolved gas in the liquid something to latch on to and form bubbles, producing a steady stream of the bubbles as they rise from the base.
"Etchings on the bottom of glasses do not improve carbonation, they actually release some carbonation that is already dissolved as the beer hits the surfaces of the etching," Sheri Jewhurst, the “dictator” of the homebrew club The Brewminaries, told Tech Insider via email.
This is similar to what happens when you drop a Mentos tablet into a can of Diet Coke. The gas that has been dissolved in the soda or beer — usually carbon dioxide — is what gives the drink its bubbles. The liquid is bottled under pressure to keep the bubbles in, and when you open the can or bottle, those bubbles start to make their way out of the liquid, giving you a great fizz.
While the gas will create bubbles naturally, you can speed this process along by giving the bubbles something to latch on to. An object with rough ridges or a bumpy surface — the Mentos, for example — can catalyze bubble-making.
In the classic Mentos and Diet Coke experiment, the mint drops into the soda and forms so many bubbles that it creates intense pressure. Those bubbles have nowhere to go but up, causing an eruption.
CardinalFoodservice/YouTubeNucleated beer glasses don't cause eruptions, but they produce just enough bubbles to rise through the glass to "refresh" your beer, Jewhurst said. Refresh, in this case, means making it fizzier as opposed to flatter, as if were just poured from the tap.
The photo below shows a side-by-side comparison of a glass with nucleation points (left) versus one without them (right). You can see how much more fizzy the drink on the left is.
BigSteve/Wikimedia CommonsBut this bubble stream effect, while neat in appearance, is not always welcomed.
"I believe there is also a cosmetic appeal in etchings to have little bubbles dancing through your glass," Jewhurst said."However, with highly carbonated beers such as wit beers, having the constant flow of bubbles coming up from the bottom can actually be kind of a nuisance since they are so prolific."
Next time you purchase a pint glass or are at your local pub, check out the inside. If it has the etchings, you know you'll be in for a fizzy ride.