Everyone knows there's no such thing as a free lunch, but there still are plenty of deals to be had. And sometimes these deals will even help you kick-start your glassware collection. If you're tired of pouring your fine craft beers into old Big Gulp cups and coffee mugs, call your local craft-beer bar and inquire about their next "keep the pint" night.
Beer distributors often provide bars with free stuff to help get the word out about their wares, and this gets passed on to you — the connoisseur of free stuff. An example: about two years ago, World of Beers on Fourth Street in St. Petersburg had a promotion where you could buy a Warsteiner, Peroni or Dos Equis draft, and you got to keep the glass. The drafts were regular price (about $3 each), and the glasses (two of each) remain in my collection today and are among some of the nicer ones I own.
Sure enough, World of Beers is a good place to visit in your quest for glassware. This week, the Carrollwood location had a keep-the-pint night, and during November, the Land O'Lakes and Westchase locations are giving away a limited-edition Duvel glass when you drink four beers from the Duvel line (Duvel, Maredsous, Maredsous 6, and La Chouffe).
World of Beers isn't the only place where you'll find promos like these. The Dunedin and Palm Harbor Houses of Beer also hold keep-the-pint nights, which are announced on their Facebook pages. While you're there, take a look at the page for Pour House in Tampa, where you'll find glassware giveaways from Cigar City, Swamp Ape, Dunedin Brewery and other local favorites.
One of the bay area's finest beer bars, Willard's Tap House, also is one of the most active when it comes to giving away glasses. In the past month and a half, patrons have been treated to glassware from Starr Hill, Dunedin and Cold Storage breweries. You may have missed the Sierra Nevada event this week, but you still have plenty of time to make it to the bar's Halloween contest on Oct. 29 (guess what some of the prizes are), or the Stone Brewing promo in November, which includes freebie pint glasses that can be filled with fresh cask ale from Stone, served straight from a firkin.
Willard's might be pretty consistent when it comes to giving away beer glasses, but it's hard to beat the Hideaway Bar and Lounge in Clearwater, which holds keep-the-pint nights every Wednesday. Next week's glass is from Sam Adams, and it's a cool one indeed. You may have seen Jim Koch describing it in a commercial, or perhaps you've tried it for yourself at the local pub. I've got one, and I have to say, it's neat. On the following week, you can grab a Shock Top Pumpkin Ale glass to help you get into the festive spirit.
Then there's the undisputed leader in the giveaway game: Lagerhaus. This Palm Harbor brewery and taproom is not fooling around when it comes to giving away glassware, as well as the beer that comes in it. I recommend signing up for the free Lagerhausers program, which means that you'll receive emails a few times a week. Sound like a bit much? That's because I didn't mention that these emails include regular specials for free beers, including rare beers that you won't find elsewhere, and often, a killer glass to pour them into.
Sure, free glassware isn't everything, but with the abundance of events designed specifically to provide you with such a thing, you owe it to yourself to pick up a new vessel in which to serve your guests a cool brew. Just don't get carried away or you may end up like me, my glass cabinet organized like a late-stage Tetris game, with a door that barely closes over shelves of carefully-arranged glassware of many styles and varieties, most of which were on the house.