A glass with a slight bubble or bulge a few inches from the rim is a common sight in pubs across the UK as well as the rest of Europe and the U.S. If you’ve ever wondered where this funny glass shape comes from and why bars use it, you’re in the right place!
What is a Nonic Pint Glass?
A nonic pint glass is a beer glass that was invented in the 1900s and rose to popularity in the 1940s. Nonic pints have multiple benefits in busy bar situations because their signature bulge makes them less breakable and easier to store. They typically hold between 16 and 20 fluid ounces of beer but they are made in smaller sizes as well.
What beers are usually served in a nonic pint?
Bartenders and brewers serve English ales like bitters, pale ales, and dark milds in a nonic pint glass. For beer scholars studying for certifications like Sommelier, WSET, and Cicerone, these English beer styles are considered classic for the glass.
However, this glass is great for almost any pour of beer that is more than 12 ounces. American pale ales, wheat beers, stouts and American light lagers are just a few other beer styles that may be poured into a nonic pint.
The Irish Stout is served in a tulip pint, which looks similar to the nonic pint but is not exactly the same. For one thing, the smoother sloping sides of the tulip pint create a narrow bottom which is harder to clean than the nonic pint. The tulip pint also tends to be smaller and holds 12oz to 16oz.
What makes a nonic pint special?
The most noticeable feature of the nonic pint is a ridge or bubble about one quarter of the way down the glass. This bubble has many functions. First, the glasses are easy to stack becasue the bulge prevents them from sticking. Standard shaker pint glasses tend to stick together when stacked. This sticking slows down the bartender during service. Second, the ridge helps protect the glass rim from chips and breaks. This function is where the name nonic or “no nick” comes from. If a nonic pint tips over the ridge will hit the counter rather than the fragile lip of the glass. So even after a tumble there will be “no nick” on the beer glass. Pretty clever Finally, the ridge helps the person using the glass keep a grip on it. This can come especially in handy when condensation might gather around the glass making it slippery.
For these reasons nonic pints are a popular choice in busy bars, especially the pubs of England. Bartenders can grasp them easily, stack them to reduce storage space, and they are less likely to chip when being tossed around a busy bar.
Where did the nonic pint come from?
Hugo Pick patented the design in 1914 while he was living in Chicago, Illinois. In his patent for the drinking glass Pick states that the object of his creation was “to provide a drinking glass…which is rendered-less readily breakable when accidentally tipped over upon a supporting surface such as a table, bar or the like, and in which the rim is protected against chipping when a number of the glasses are collected in the hand.” The patent by Hugo Pick is below.
However, while Pick was successful in making a glass to reach his goals, he never saw his invention become ubiquitous. It was much later in the late 1940s that nonic pints skyrocketed in popularity. In fact, this increase in use came from companies in the UK producing Pick’s design. Unfortunately for him, this production began after his patent on the design expired.
Imperial Pints vs US Pints
A nonic pint can also be an imperial pint or a U.S. pint. In the States 16oz (473ml) constitutes a pint of beer, however over in the U.K. a pint is 20 British fluid oz (568ml). Therefore if you slide a U.S. pint across the bar to a Brit they’ll notice it’s too small to be called a pint. They’re right, a U.S. pint is about 20% smaller than an imperial pint.
Be careful when shopping for imperial pints. Some glass manufactures will consider their product imperial simply because it has a crown printed on it, rather than basing the label on size. If a glass says it holds “20oz” it will be close enough to the standard imperial size.
Where can I find a nonic pint glass?
Just about anywhere! If you’d like to buy your own set there are plenty of online shops and any retailer selling beverage glassware will likely have a nonic pint. Bar-goers around the UK and in parts Europe as well as the United States and Canada drink their beers from these glasses.
What glassware can replace a Nonic Pint?
Nonic pints have a great utility as a workhorse at busy bars and restaurants, but a standard shaker pint glass or the more shapely tulip pint can replace them easily. The next best option would be a Willi Becher glass. However, these can sometimes be too small compared to the volume a pint glass holds.
Why should I drink beer out of a glass?
Drinking beer from a glass instead of the can or bottle gives you access to the aromas of the beer. Brewers carefully select their ingredients to create the best flavor, and aroma makes up more than 70 percent of what we consider flavor! If you can’t smell the beer you’re missing out on what the brewer made for you.
All glasses allow more flavor and aroma molecules to reach your nose. This means even a plastic solo cup is better to use than drinking from the bottle or can. Yet, the nonic pint is absolutely an upgrade from that solo cup.