Crushing the Can Beer Vessel Guide for Your First Trip to the Brewery

Move over sports bars and pubs, a new beer-drinker’s scene is on the rise. The number of operating breweries in the U.S. totaled 4,296 in 2015, marking a 15% growth and breaking the American all-time record. Known for making and selling their own product, breweries create opportunities for visitors to explore locally made flavors and styles.

Stepping out of your commercial-beer comfort zone might not only expose you to new tastes, but also to new beer containers and sizing. Brewers use a variety of beer vessels designed for the best experience of each particular brew. Here’s a brief guide to get you started, so you know exactly how much booze you’re getting, and why.

At the Brewery

Samples and Tasters

For sampling different types of beers and ciders, many breweries will offer “flights”– a collection of about four different beverages served in glasses between two and four ounces in volume. Four ounces is the most common quantity, with four four-ounce glasses making one 16 oz serving, or a pint.

Tulips and Snifters

Brews with higher alcohol content are often served in 8 oz glasses that come in a variety of shapes. Tulip glasses are bulbous near the bottom with a widened rim, and made with a stem. The curves of the glass enhance flavors and aromas, and the wide rim helps keep the foam head from overflowing. Snifters are quite similar with a bowl-like shape, and in both styles the stem keeps the drinker’s hand from warming the beer.


The most common size served in breweries, and pretty much anywhere else, is the pint. Pint glasses, also known as shaker glasses, are cylindrical with narrow bases that widen gradually to the mouth of the glass. For lighter drinkers, many establishments offer half-pints in glasses with a similar, simple shape.

At Home

Growler Containers

Growler containers are airtight jugs designed for transporting beer, so that you can take your favorite drink home with you straight from the brewer’s tap. Although often made of dark glass with a small handle near the mouth, a growler can also be made of ceramic and even stainless steel. Growler containers can be purchased in a variety of volumes, but 32 oz and 64 oz growlers are common.


While kegs are somewhat difficult to find at local breweries, they are becoming increasingly available for craft beverages. Commonly found in sixth barrel (5.6 gallons), quarter barrel (7.75 gallons), and half barrel (15.5 gallons) quantities, kegs are a great way to share your newfound beer of choice with friends. That being said, U.S. drinkers each down about 27.5 gallons of beer and cider annually, so maybe you don’t have to share that keg after all.

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about beverage sizing at breweries. Happy drinking!

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