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Ever Wonder Why a Pint Glass Has That Weird Bulge? We Found Out

The nonic pint glass is one way to protect clumsy beer guzzlers and overwhelmed bartenders.

stout beer
Edgar CervantesGetty Images

The Teku may be the benchmark beer glass for the current craft beer movement, but no beer vessel is as iconic as the English pub glass. While "pub glass" can refer to a number of different glass styles, the most ubiquitous may be the cylindrical, tapered glass with the odd bulge just below the lip. That pint glass with a bulge has a name: the nonic (or nonik) pint glass.

A standard at British pubs, the nonic pint glass reigns supreme for its durability and utility. The glass' bulge was devised as an improvement to the more streamlined shaker, or conical glass. While the shaker's sides are straight, the nonic's sides are interrupted by a bump around an inch below the lip. Shaker glasses become slippery once condensation accumulates on the outside and its design makes it easy to slip out of one's hands. The Nonic's ridge, on the other hand, gives the drinker a place to securely hold their beverage so the glass doesn't slip from their grip. Additionally, the ridge acts as a bumper if the glass is tipped over. If the glass falls on its side, the bulge prevents damage to the rim — hence the nonic name, a play on "no-nick."

close up of beer glass
The ridge of a nonic glass acts as a bumper if tipped over.
Phil Clark / EyeEmGetty Images

Which came first: the clumsy beer drinker or the overwhelmed bartender? As well as the Nonic performs in the hands of a beer drinker, the design is also beneficial to the bartender managing the lot of them. Shaker glasses, when stacked, create a vacuum-like seal so they get stuck inside each other — not the best scenario for those looking to quickly pour draft after draft. The nonic's bulge prevents said seal so it's easier to remove glasses from a stack, which also prevents stacks from tipping over, which prevents bars from buying as many glasses as they might otherwise

The nonic glass has a wide opening that lets a lot of the beer's aroma to dissipate. But that design also makes it easy to chug (20 ounces in Britain and 16 ounces in America). Most beer styles will work in a nonic glass, but stick to tradition and top it off with a stout or British brown ale. While craft beer drinkers will reach for a Teku over anything else, there's nothing better than drinking a few brews from the iconic nonic glass.

This story is part of Further Details, a series dedicated to ubiquitous but overlooked elements hidden on your favorite products.

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