If You See a Pint Glass with a Bulge, This Is What It’s For

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It's a "nonic" pint glass—and it's made that way for a reason!

The frothy foam on top of a beer sets it apart from every other beverage on earth. No other drink can maintain a long-lasting head (the technical term for that foam cap), and to put it on display, you definitely have to know how to pour a beer. Beyond showcasing that one-of-a-kind foam layer, drinking beer out of a glass rather than the can or bottle allows you to enjoy all of the tantalizing aromas it has to offer.

There are tons of different beer glasses out there, but they’re not created equally. The nonic pint glass was made in the early 1900s with the beer drinker and the bartender in mind.

What Is a Nonic Pint Glass?

It stands apart from the standard pint glass because of one specific feature: a bump or bulge about a quarter of the way down the glass. This bump was patented by Hugo Pick in 1913 to “provide an improved drinking glass.”

Back in the 1920s, when glass was expensive for restaurant and bar owners, this simple bump was a big deal. Ads in newspapers and catalogs advertised glasses and tumblers with rims that wouldn’t chip or nick.

Why Use a Nonic-Style Pint Glass?

The simple bulge around the circumference of the glass has several functions. First, it makes it easier for bar patrons to hold on to, even when the glass is slick with condensation. Second, it makes the glasses easy to stack and un-stack, which is important to bartenders at a busy establishment. Rather than standard pint glasses that may stick together when stacked, nonic pint glasses rest on the bulge of the glass, so they readily un-stack.

Finally, the most important benefit of the bump, and the reason the pint got the “nonic” name, is because the bump protects the rim if the glass tips over. Even if a nonic pint glass falls on its side on a hard surface, the bulge of the glass will hit the surface instead of the ultra breakable rim. In other words, you can knock over the glass and there will be “no nick” on the rim!

The nonic pint comes in many sizes, but there are two standard dimensions, the 16-ounce American nonic pint and the 20-ounce Imperial nonic pint. In the United Kingdom, a pint of beer contains the full 20 ounces, meaning almost 20% more than a typical American pint. See what beer brands offer the best pour.

Where Can I Find One?

Stores that sell bar glassware are likely to have a nonic pint. Many specialty beer retailers also stock this specially shaped glass.

Almost any type of beer works in a nonic pint, from hoppy pilsners and malty amber ales to standard American lagers. For strong beers over 6% ABV, look for a smaller nonic pint glass. If you’re interested in trying several types of beer, this set of four mini nonic glasses has all the benefits of the larger glass with a tiny 6-ounce size.

Whichever size you choose, we can raise a glass to specially designed pints that are easy to hold, simple to stack and won’t get nicks or chips along the rim!

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Mandy Naglich
Mandy is a food and beverage writer with bylines at WNYC, Munchies, Mic and October. She's a Certified Cicerone and award-winning homebrewer living, writing and cooking in New York City.