Glass shape influences how fast you drink your beer

Nadine Bells
Shine On
September 6, 2012

Want to sip that beer slowly? Drink it out of a straight, not curvy, glass.

A new study suggests that a straight-sided highball glass is your best bet for taking your time. A curvy pint glass, which holds greater volume in its top half, encourages a faster chug.

The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, studied 160 social drinkers, 80 male and 80 female. The participants were asked to do one of four things: drink beer out of a straight glass, drink beer out of a curvy glass, or drink a soft drink from either a straight or curvy glass. Some of the glasses were only half-full. Participants were unaware of the study in question, and drank their beverages while watching films they were told they would be later tested on.

Also see: Obama's beer recipe released by White House

"Drinking time is slowed by almost 60 per cent when an alcoholic beverage is presented in a straight glass compared with a curved glass," write the University of Bristol researchers in their report.

"On average, it took people drinking beer out of a straight glass 11 minutes to finish 12 oz. Those drinking out of the curved glass only took seven minutes. There was no difference in time for people consuming soft drinks out of either glass," CBS News reports.

Why such a difference?

"The researchers surmise that while drinking alcohol, people pace themselves based on when they reach the halfway point of a glass. (When participants drank soda instead of beer, the shape of the glass had no significant effect on drinking speed.) But drinkers failed to accurately estimate the halfway point on curved-edge drinking glasses, and so they slurped up a greater quantity of alcohol faster," Discover Magazine's blog reports.

To support the halfway-point theory, researchers found that participants who only received a half a glass of beer seemed immune to any effects of the shape of the glass, taking 5 minutes to finish off their drink regardless of glass shape — likely because they didn't rely on the glass's halfway point to judge how much they'd consumed.

Also see: Yummy recipes that cut out the sugar

"Due to the personal and societal harms associated with heavy bouts of drinking, there has been a lot of recent interest in alcohol control strategies," study researcher Dr. Angela Attwood says in a press release.

Attwood adds, "I think the important point to take from our research is that the ability to pace effectively may be compromised when drinking from certain types of glasses."

This isn't the first study to look at the relationship between alcohol consumption and glass shape. A 2005 study shows that people are more likely to pour extra alcohol into short, wide glasses than tall, narrow ones, BBC News reports.

Pacing oneself is important in regulating your alcohol consumption. A healthy liver can process a standard 12 oz can of beer an hour. Any faster than that, you risk overloading your body's ability to process it.

Here are some tips on how to be a healthy beer drinker.

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