The clink of beer glasses being stacked is a common soundtrack to any pub visit. But that sound, and the stacking that causes it, wouldn’t be possible — at least not in a safe way — without the invention of the nonic glass.
This type of glassware typically holds 16 to 20 ounces and features a prominent bump a few inches below the rim. The glass was originally created to make bartenders’ lives a bit easier, as homebrewer and writer Mandy Naglich tells VinePair. If the glassware happens to tip over, the bump prevents chips on the fragile rim — hence the name, “no nicks” on the glass.
Nonic glassware is thoughtfully designed to optimize functionality, Naglich says. While the 1913 design wasn’t the first time that beer glassware featured a bump, elaborate earlier versions focused on aesthetics rather than performance.
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The design gained popularity from the early 1900s through the 1940s at watering holes in the United States and United Kingdom. While previous pint glasses stuck together or even fractured when in contact with each other, the bubble on nonic glasses introduced buffer space.
Beyond helping bar owners avoid the cost of breakages, the style’s stackability helps overwhelmed bartenders during busy spells. This makes them especially valuable to high-volume bars and establishments that favor function over form.
“It’s fallen out of being super popular,” Naglish says. “You’ll still see them in more upscale sports bars — not a dive bar — where beers are served in the same glass.”
Craft breweries, instead, focus on more intricate or specialized glasses for different beer styles, including tulips, pilsners, and goblets. This stemware not only looks attractive, it also impacts the drinking experience from an aromatic perspective — one area in which the nonic pint glass does not excel.
Whether choosing a practical nonic glass or something a bit more elaborate, any glassware is an upgrade on drinking from a can.