Glasses as Decorative Art
Since the dawn of civilization, people have been drinking their favorite beverage out of special, artistically decorated vessels: pottery and metal at first, befitting the social class. Glass was used in Roman times, but became much more important for drinking vessels in late Medieval times. Drinking glasses have always been, as they are today, status objects, markers of wealth and power. In this role, they have achieved real artistic splendor.
If you really love this form of decorative arts, you might want to head to the Rijksmuesum in Amsterdam to drool over the fine collection of glass and ceramic vessels. While you’re there, enjoy the paintings. One out of three has somebody drinking beer in it. My kind of museum! In London, the Victoria and Albert museum showcases all manner of decorative art, including fine glass. The beer’s pretty good in that neighborhood, too.
Fine antique glass is out there for purchase, but it’s going to cost you. There are genuine 100-250 year-old glasses available if you know where to look. For a start, here’s a dealer that stocks a nice selection of Georgian table glass: www.antique-glass.co.uk
A hundred bucks is not exactly pocket change, but it is the going rate for this delicate little drinking glass engraved with hops on one side and crossed heads of barley on the other. These crystal “dwarf ale” glasses ring like a tiny bells when tapped, and were used by the lord of the manor to drink his strong, house-brewed “October” ale. Plain, fluted, and twisted versions are also available, but the particular conical taper identifies it as an ale glass.
A brewer since 1984, Randy Mosher is a nationally recognized writer and authority on brewing and beer styles.