The Brill Beer Glass of 1963. Part I.

The announcement of a new beer glass, especially by an established brewer, attracts attention, within and often outside the beer industry. This was particularly so when a few large breweries were dominant.

The news was good filler for blank columns, assisted too by the natural interest of the fifth estate, or so it was then.

Craft brewing pioneer Boston Brewing Company, makers of the estimable Boston Lager, released its – to many eyes – odd-shaped glass a few years ago, claiming taste enhancement (if not aesthetic values). The Sam Adams website explains, with aid of a sectioned diagram, why its design maximizes the taste of the beer.

(At first I didn’t put much in it, but later became a convert).

In the 1960s Guinness sponsored a branded tankard, quite attractive and a collectors’ item today. Since then the Guinness name has appeared on many types of glasses and mugs.

In February 1963 “Your Minnesota Hostess”, a generic beer advertorial series I discussed here, included a catchy item: a new beer glass issued by a “British brewery”, not named. The item appeared in the Thief River Falls Times, a regional paper in Minnesota.

“Hil”, Hostess of the series, described the glass as a goblet with rounded stem and slightly nipped-in top. The Sam Adams glass has the nipped effect too, as it happens.

I had not come across this glass before. Martyn Cornell covered the glassware area well in his 2015 Strange Tales of Ale. He mentioned many glasses issued prior and leading up to the mid-1900s, a heyday for British brewing. The inventor of many, as he tells us, was the prolific, talented designer Alexander Hardie Williamson.

Among glass types listed was the “‘New Worthington’ stemmed goblet”, so from Burton-based Bass, Mitchells and Butler at the time. It had absorbed Worthington Brewery before the Second World War.

Certainly a powerhouse of British brewing, Bass was worthy of a story like this with the attendant, wide-ranging publicity.

I’d think the unnamed brewery in the 1963 account was, therefore, Bass, but cannot be sure, perhaps Martyn Cornell or others will comment. This auction item for a Worthington Lite glass, seemingly c. 1985, meets Hil’s description fairly closely.

The top is slightly tapered, if not quite nipped, and the stem sort of round. The glass in toto may have evolved from the 1963 original, but seems to bear essentially the design values of 20 years earlier.

So likely I think the ace beer glass of ’63, perfect to showcase the specialties of a first division UK brewer, was in fact the stemmed New Worthington goblet.

Below I show a modern glass that might resemble the British brewery’s design of 1963.

 

 

Beeretseq is quite particular about glassware, as many beer fanciers. I like certain beer styles in certain glassware only, but then too any glass will do if you like the beer.

The advertorial is quite short, mentioning also a few meatless dishes cooked with beer – an oddly modern-sounding note for a mass-market publication in the era beef barbecuing was king. The reason offered was related to Lent though.

One could write in to obtain the recipes for free, in a booklet sponsored by the Minnesota Brewers Association, which also underwrote “Your Minnesota Hostess”. The series ran for about 10 years from 1961, when there were still upwards of 10 regional breweries undrying throats in the 32nd state.

The decline of small family breweries in the state probably explained the lapse of the series, that and evolving cultural values in the 1970s.

See our Part II.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.