UPDATE: Dogfish commented on the similarities between its new IPA glass and Riedel’s Red + White wine glass on a related post on A Good Beer Blog. Here’s what it had to say:
“Hi, all. Wanted to share some background on the development of the new IPA glass.
“At the earliest design and tasting workshops, Sam and Mariah from Dogfish, Ken and Brian from Sierra, and Georg Riedel sampled from dozens and dozens of glasses from Spiegelau/Riedel’s huge library. (You wine lovers out there know that Spiegelau has been around for more than four centuries, so there were a lot to choose from.)
“Traits of various glasses that boosted the hop aromas and flavors of IPAs helped inform the direction of our glass, but the final design came from carefully refining eight original hand-blown glasses. This wasn’t plucked from a shelf.
“The Red and White glass did stand out in workshops — but for all the wrong reasons initially. Our whole panel chuckled at the odd-looking base. However, after much testing it became obvious the function of the rolling base outweighed its fashion. The friction and surface area of those ridges aerate beer on its way in and out of the glass. Each member of our panel, voting without knowledge of anyone else’s opinion, favored the base.
“In later workshops we learned that the upper bowl of the Red and White glass was not best-suited to IPAs, so several one-off molds were made featuring different bowl geometries and dimensions on the rippled base. We labored over the right bowl diameter and flare angle to best direct and contain aroma for the drinker and finally came to agree on an ideal design. At that point, Spiegelau literally broke the mold. They no longer make any glass with the rippled base other than the IPA glass.
“We all agreed that the IPA glass also had to hold a larger volume, too. At 19 ounces, it not only accommodates a 12-ounce pour at home, but also a 16-ounce bar pour with plenty of head. The bigger volume dictated a thicker base, which also houses laser-etched nucleation. The CO2 rising from Dogfish’s tiny shark and Sierra’s hop boosts the aromas of IPAs and helps sustain head.
“We took our 50 collective years in craft beer, heeded the experience of a premier glass manufacturer, and created what we feel is an exceptional glass to enjoy IPA. We don’t expect everyone to love it, but wanted you to know that it’s not ‘off the shelf.’
“Cheers to those inspired to give it a try!”
This is a solid response from Dogfish. It was open and honest about using the Red + White glass design as inspiration, and it explained the subtle differences between it and the IPA glass. Again, the brewer initially represented this glass as something entirely new and different, and it clearly is not. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Dogfish or Sierra to explain that they got the design from an existing wine glass in their promotional blog post but some background information on the design process, like the information they shared above, would have been helpful and could have been posted on their online stores.
As I wrote in my post, this glass really does enhance the IPA-drinking experience, if for no other reason than it’s a high-quality glass that makes drinking an IPA feel more special. I like mine a lot. So it’s a good thing for beer drinkers willing to spend $9, plus shipping, on experimental glassware, even if Dogfish, Sierra and Spiegelau were a bit misleading when they introduced it.
Last week Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and specialty glass-maker Spiegelau released a fancy new glass, which Dogfish called “a new standard for IPA glassware.”
Well, the glass may be a new standard for IPA glasses, but its design apparently isn’t original at all. In fact, it looks remarkably similar to Riedel’s O Wine Tumbler Red + White wine glass.
The only differences between the two that I can see are the capacities—the Spiegelau IPA glass holds 19 ounces, and the Riedel glass holds 17 ¼ ounces. And there’s a “laser-etched logo on the bottom of the bowl to sustain carbonation and head” on the Spiegelau glass that isn’t found on the Riedel version. The Riedel version also costs about twice as much as the Spiegelau glass, at least on Amazon.com. (Dogfish and Sierra are selling single glasses for $9 plus shipping; Amazon.com has a set of two Riedel wine tumblers for $39.99 plus shipping.) And, of course, the Riedel version doesn’t have a Dogfish or Sierra logo on its side.
It’s also worth noting that Riedel owns Spiegelau. In 2004, Spiegelau was purchased by Georg Riedel, the owner of Riedel Glass Works, and it is now part of the Riedel/Nachtmann/Spiegelau Group. So Riedel owns Spiegelau, and it’s feasible that they would share glass designs.
I really like the Dogfish/Sierra glass, because it’s made of high-quality glass, and it’s different than any other beer glass I have. But I admit, I feel kind of misled by Dogfish and Sierra, who seem to have positioned their IPA glass as an original design. They never really came right out and said that, but they certainly implied it.
In the end, none of that really matters; the glass enhances the IPA experience, so it’s good for craft beer and craft beer drinkers. But something about how Dogfish and Sierra presented the new glass rubs me the wrong way.