Your Beer Glass Shape Might Be Making You Drink Too Much, Says Science, So Think Carefully About Your Next Pint

There are a lot of things that might contribute to whether or not we overdo it at the bar — but now we've got something else to add to the list: According to new research, your beer glass shape might be making you drink too much. You may not have much control over the glass your favorite local watering hole gives you, but hey, at least we can put this newfound knowledge to good use in our home bar setups, right?

The study, which was conducted by University of Bristol Ph.D. student David Troy and Dr. Angela Attwood of Bristol's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, attempted to figure out if there are any sneaky ways we can try to curb excessive drinking. Said Troy in a press release, “Excessive alcohol use is a major public health concern and there is a lot of interest in alcohol control strategies. It is important to determine what environmental factors are contributing to excessive use and how they can be altered to nudge drinkers toward more responsible consumption.”

So: If we're looking for things we can tweak in our environment to accomplish this goal, where better to start than the glass out of which you're consuming your refreshing adult beverage? Troy and Attwood ran two different experiments to see how glass shape affects our drinking habits. Here's what they found out.

The Study:

For the first experiment, the researchers randomly divided their pool of 160 participants — half male, half female — into two groups. They then gave one group beer in a curved glass that also had markings on it showing when it was a quarter full, half full, and three quarters full; the other group, however, received curved glasses with no markings. Then they timed how quickly each group drank their beer.

The second experiment took a look at how glass shape might effect our drinking speed in a real life environment. Over the course of two weekends, 160 participants were asked to attend two sessions at three different pubs. Some of the participants were given beer to drink out of a curved glass; others, meanwhile, were given it in a straight-sided glass.

Guess what happened?

The Results:

How quickly participants drank their beer did, in fact, change depending on which glass they drank out of — although perhaps not a heck of a lot. In the first experiment, the group who drank out of the glasses with volume markings took over a minute longer to finish their beers than the group with the unmarked glasses: 10.3 minutes, as opposed to 9.1 minutes. The second experiment revealed that those drinking out of a straight glass were 60 percent slower than those drinking out of curved glasses.

The Takeaway:

Simply put? Be mindful of what you drink out of. Attwood, bouncing off of the idea that “the speed at which beer is drunk can have a direct effect on the level of intoxication experienced,” stated, “Our research suggests that small changes such as glass shape and volume markings can help individuals make more accurate judgments of the volume they are drinking.” She added, “Hopefully drinkers will use this information to drink at a slower pace.

Of course, the study was relatively small, so we have to be careful about drawing too many conclusions from it; as Troy noted, “Only a limited number of pubs took part over a short time scale, so the results are preliminary and need to be treated with caution.” He did, however, also state, “We now know it is feasible to conduct this type of situation in real world situations, and this will have implications for future research.” I don't know about you, but I'd be interested to see how this theory might apply to differently shaped cocktail glasses, or to bottles versus cans.

But hey, when in doubt, at least know we know that we should try to drink our beer out of glasses that look like this:

And not like this:


Images: Simon Cocks/Flickr; Giphy (3); brands (2)