pouring beer at pub

7 December, 2021

Difference Between Non-Nucleated and Nucleated Beer Glasses

You’ve probably heard the term nucleated beer glasses, but what does it actually mean? If a beer glass is nucleated, there will be some type of etched mark on the inside of the bottom of the glass. By having this little mark, when beer is poured into the glass, it helps the liquid to carbonate, which in turn will give the beer a stream of bubbles and create and maintain a head.

Have you ever wondered when you get a beer poured at your local pub, they get a great frothy head on the beer glass, but when you pour it at home you can’t get the same effect? It’s probably because the glass you have at home is non nucleated. Having the small etch mark creates a rough surface on the bottom of the glass for the beer to make contact with. This is where the dissolved C02 hits, and they come out of the liquid to form bubbles and these bubbles rise in the glass to create a thicker, foamer head. It also helps with head retention, the beer looks more appealing, and it also helps release the aromas and taste of the beer.

So, this all sounds wonderful. But, are there any drawbacks to having a nucleated beer glass compared to a non-nucleated? There is one drawback, but this depends on how quickly you drink your beer. The nucleation promotes more heat at a quicker pace, which also increases the release of C02, so your beer will become flatter, quicker if it isn’t consumed within the hour. Some people think nucleation increases the carbonation but this is wrong. It just carbonates more quickly.

If you have a beer where the aroma is a big part of it, in regards to the overall perception of the beer, then you should pick a nucleated glass and in more malt focused beers, it can help reveal hidden nuances, however, there are some beers where it is more favourable to use a non-nucleated beer glass. Anything with high carbonation, or a beer you are going to drink very slowly such as a high alcohol, low carb barley wine or wood-aged beers would be better suited with a non-nucleated glass.

So there you have it. There are pros and cons to both styles of beer glass. It is unnecessary to have one over the other, though if you are buying for a pub or restaurant, you would probably want to go nucleated as most clients would like the additional form of the head.

Whichever you choose, happy drinking (moderately).


The Glassware Only Team