If you had told Archie Bunker or Cheers's Norm that someday, people would sip their beers from expensive crystal, they would have laughed you out of the room. But in today's world of artisanal donuts and gourmet mac 'n cheese, it only makes sense. Last night, on the eve of Repeal Day and in the thick of the holidays, Belgian beer brand Stella Artois hosted an elegant dinner at New York's Bar Naná to celebrate the launch of a top-end, limited edition crystal chalice from which to sip their brew.
Stella Artois has long been identified by its specific drinking goblets. At a Lexington food & drink event during this spring's Kentucky Derby, chef and spokesperson Marc Stroobandt led the NY Drinks Examiner through a series of tastings of the brand's beer in and out of its signature pilsner chalice (along with sister brand Leffe's blond and brown expressions), and the aromatic and taste differences between styles of pouring and specific vessels were indeed noticable. Beer tastes great in any container, of course, but there are details of the nose and flavor profile that do seem to change based on the shape of the vessel and the control/release of carbonation. "I could serve these to you blindfolded," said Stroobandt during the tasting. "And you would swear I'm handing you two different beers."
"We are always in the pursuit of the perfect Stella Artois experience," according to Debora Kamoya, vice president of global marketing. She also explained how much the glass mattered. But the decorations are for the pure joy of it. In addition, the company says that because Stella Artois began as a special holiday brew gifted among family and friends in Leuven, Belgium, the glass also celebrates this winter heritage.
Among the attendees at the hearty pairing dinner was actress Ahna O'Reilly ("Fruitvale Station" / "The Help") and actor Colin Egglesfield ("Something Borrowed" / "Melrose Place").
The crystal chalices, each hand-blown in Turkey and rimmed in platinum, were then sent to Austria where high-end bedazzler Swarovski added decorative crystals around the bottom glass like frost condensation. The piece is on sale in 30 countries around the world, and are available through Fancy.com for $500.
Don't have the scratch for the fancy glass? Stella also released a nifty holiday gift set featuring a 1-pint bottle of beer and two matching (non-bedazzled) chalices for about $20. The best part? When you gift this one, your friend will almost certainly have to share!
Thirsty for more? Check out National Spirits Examiner or NY Drinks Examiner.
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FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author received no samples or other compensation for this article, apart from the invitation to the media dinner and the chance to carefully walk around a lot of expensive glassware in one place.