A Toast To … Space-age Polymers
O vessel clear, with name inscribed
From which my brew I oft imbibed;
From me too soon your life was took
When clumsily, the table I shook.
I miss your sides, I miss your rim,
I miss the lace upon your brim,
I miss the feel of my glass complete
And filled with lager, stout or wheat.
Perhaps, someday, I will replace
Your perfect sides, your perfect base;
But for today, I mourn the loss –
Into the bin, your shards I toss.
– Me, “Ode to a Broken Glass”
I wrote that for a fellow member of the HomeBrewTalk.com online community a few years ago when he dropped and broke his favorite beer glass. Since then, I’ve recited it under my breath many times while disposing of the shattered remnants of my own glassware. See, I’m a bit of a klutz. Even sober I have inadvertently sent many innocent pint glasses crashing down to the tile floor of my kitchen (and hydrometers, but that’s a story for another day).
So when I was browsing the shelves at Austin Homebrew Supply recently, looking for last-minute impulse purchases I can’t live without, this caught my eye:
It’s called a Silipint. Although this version is obviously an Austin Homebrew exclusive, a quick dip into the Google pool shows that Silipints are available at tons of online retailers for around $10 each. As the name suggests, it’s a non-breakable silicone pint glass. After the salesperson helping me threw one to the store floor … hard … to demonstrate its durability, I bought two.
I’m sure some of you are laughing it off already. There’s a lot of debate these days about the “best glass” to serve beer in, and the Silipint might seem to have two strikes against it. It’s in the shape of an ordinary straight-sided shaker pint, which has gotten a lot of criticism from the “best glass” gurus. Not only is the Silipint is molded in that controversial shape, it’s also made from an unorthodox material that feels a little weird between your lips.
I’m not about to jump into the “best glass” debate, because many others out there are doing much better research on it than me – and to be honest, I don’t really care that much. I keep a variety of glasses, and I have preferred shapes for a few beer styles, but shaker pints are the foot soldiers of my glassware collection, and almost everything I pour from my kegerator goes into one.
But no matter the shape, glass breaks. Especially when I take it out of the house. So what’s a guy to drink from on a Sunday afternoon in the backyard, hovering over the grill or the brew kettle? Or when he brings a growler of homebrew to a picnic or a favorite BYOB barbecue joint?
Until now, the choice has been clear: red Solo cups. And I hate red Solo cups. And that goddamned song.
For all the spectrum of snobbery one can imagine in response to a drinking vessel that feels like a sex toy, I found that it actually drinks pretty well. Yes, the silicone does feel weird in your mouth, but it has some fortunate side effects in addition to durability. The rough texture is easy to hold onto (the container would survive being dropped, but we don’t want to waste beer, do we?). And during a brewing session on a Texas-hot summer day, the Silipint kept my Berliner Weisse cold enough to nurse for over an hour while I bounced between brewing tasks, longer than glass would have done.
The Silipint is now my vessel of choice to take with me when I bring homebrew out of the home. So I’m raising my glass today to toast the Silipint and the space-age silicone polymers that made it possible.
In other news, this week I ordered parts to build a portable draft system with a 20-ounce paintball CO2 tank. With that and my Silipint, all I’ll need is something to keep it cool and I’ll be able to bring a whole keg of draft homebrew with me wherever I go. The project will be finished a little late for the summer, but autumn in Texas still offers lots of chances for outdoor imbibing.
Tailgating? Not really my scene. But when I take my son for his first trick-or-treat this Halloween, I’d love to be the guy rolling around an ice-cold keg and offering tastes of pumpkin ale to the neighbors. Who wouldn’t?