A malt glass is a type of glass which is specifically designed for serving a particular beverage. There are two types of malt glasses: glasses meant to be used with scotch and related beverages, and glasses which are used to serve malted shakes. The two designs are very different, as these beverage families are quite distinct and they have different needs which must be addressed. Many kitchen supply stores stock malt glasses of both varieties, and they can also be ordered directly from suppliers.
In the case of a glass used to serve scotch and other whiskeys, the design is meant to bring out the flavor and aroma of the drink so that drinkers can fully appreciate it. There are several different designs in common use, with the classic glass having a large tulip-shaped bowl and a short stem. Drinkers are only supposed to pour a small amount of scotch into the glass, so that the aroma and flavor can fully develop inside the bulb of the glass, and the short stem allows the whiskey to be warmed slightly by the hands of the holder.
It is also possible to find round and square malt glasses, which are sometimes used to serve scotch on the rocks. Such glasses tend to obstruct the flavor and scent slightly, which can make them less pleasant to use, and some people believe that chilling scotch and whiskey also inhibits the flavor. When drinking especially fine whiskeys, tulip shaped glasses are generally preferred, and ice should be avoided.
In the sense of a malt shake or ice cream soda, the malt glass is a tall cylinder. Some malt glasses are designed to be used with blenders, in which case the glass can be inserted directly under a blending head, or a blender can be beaten inside the glass. In other cases, the shake is blended in one container, and poured into the malt glass. These glasses are deep to accommodate a large shake and an accompanying straw.
One of the largest flaws with a traditional malt glass is that because it lacks a stem and base or handle, users must handle the glass directly, which causes heat to transfer to the shake inside the glass. The heat can make the malt sloshy or highly liquid, which is undesirable in the eyes of many malt fans. For this reason, people usually place the malt glass on the table and lean over it to drink from a straw, which can be a somewhat cumbersome arrangement, although it slows the melting rate of the malt shake.