07 December 2011

Beer Mythology

I've heard so many beer half truths, lies, and outright misinformation over the years, but I wanted to hopefully dispel a few of the ones that I hear the most often. I truly think that knowledge is key to get craft beer to a 20 or 30% market share in the future.  I can't imagine how hard it will be to get a beer though if we do reach that mark.  

Myth:  Dark beer is heavier and stronger in alcohol than lighter beer.

Truth: The color of the beer has no bearing on how much alcohol the final product has in it.  The color of the malt used during the brewing process is what drives the color of the beer. Many dark beers "can" be much heavier and have a great deal of alcohol in it, but many dark beers can have less alcohol and calories than beer that is much lighter in color. 

Guinness from a bottle has only 125 calories in it and 4.2% ABV
Flat 12 Milk Stout is 5.0% ABV 
Yuengling Porter has 150 calories and is 4.5% ABV
Sierra Nevada pale ale has 175 calories and is 5.6% ABV
New Belgium Fat Tire 160 calories and is 5.2%ABV
Dog FishHead is 203 calories and 6% ABV
Bud Light has 110 calories and is also 4.2% ABV

Myth: Lagers = a Bud, Miller, or Coors product.  "I don't like lagers."

Truth:  People equate lagers with BMC's, but this is just silly.  People are denying themselves some pretty amazing beers or they don't realize they are actually drinking a lager. 

Styles that are Lagers: 
Bock, Dopplebock, Oktoberfest, Rauchbier, California common, Eisbocks, and Vienna style are all types of lagers. Those couldn't be further from a BMC product. 

Myth: Bud light just comes from the bottom of the barrel that regular Bud came from. 

Truth: I'm not going to address this one.  Where do people come up with this shit? 

Myth: Adjuncts make a less quality beer. Rice should never be in your beer etc.....

Truth: Many of your favorite craft brewers use adjuncts all of the time.  An adjunct isn't necessarily a bad thing. Adjuncts can be broken down into starch adjuncts that would include rice, corn, wheat, oats, and rye.  Other adjuncts can include flavorings that included nutmeg, orange and lemon peels, clove, ginger, spruce, fruits and plenty of other things are adjuncts. 

Myth: Small beer is boring beer or not as good as extreme beer.

Truth: Session or "small" beer needs to be one of the things on people's radar.  Lower alcohol beer that is packed with flavor can be just as amazing as extreme beer.  The rapidly escalating price of craft beer also makes session beer more attractive for when you want more than a few beers. 

Myth: For the love of all that is Holy, Ben Franklin did not say: "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy." 

Truth: This is the actual quote:"Behold the rain which descends from the heaven upon vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and Loves to see us happy." He was talking about wine, not beer. 

Myth:Beer should be served from a frosted glass. 

Truth:  People put a box of Arm & Hammer to get rid of odors in the fridge.  You don't want that in your beer, and more importantly is that water is being added to your beer.  It may not be much, but the cold glass and extra water will take away from the beer drinking experience.

Myth: Beer needs to be served as close to freezing as possible. 

Truth: I really don't like this one, but it is truth that advertising works on people. Many beers should be consumed between about 40 and 55 degrees.  The reason BMC want you to drink their beer as cold as possible is because it takes away any possible flavor and inhibits your taste buds at colder temperatures.  BMC beers will get nastier the warmer they get and most craft beer will exhibit new flavors the higher the temperature. 

Myth: Cask ale is flat and served warm. "I know, my buddy went to England 10 years ago, and that is what he told me." 

Truth: Cask ale should never be flat and should be served chilled, not warm.  I am not sure how this myth still persists even among hard core beer geeks, but I almost always hear this about 100 times when I work the cask tents at Winterfest and Summerfest. 

What else am I missing? 



  1. Beer changins temperature makes it go bad. Often some variation of "If you get a beer from the cooler you have to keep it cold", or "Once you cool a keg you have to keep it cold or it will get skunked"

  2. @Jarrod: I'm going to have to say from my experience that multiple changes in temperature is definitely NOT GOOD. This most certainly applies to lighter bodied and alcohol beers which aren't as stable for long periods of time on the shelves. I will also back this up to say that unfiltered beers are also not as stable to temperature differentials because the organic ingredients in the beer can cause some seriously bad tastes with the variables of temperature and time in play. Generally speaking of course.

    Matt I love when you said "Where do they come up with this shit?" Hahaha.

  3. @JArrod & @JJ: You're both kind of right.

    Only light, not temp, can "Skunk" a beer. But temp shifts can degrade a complex beer.
    I've had the misfortune of accidentally performing several beer temperature-shift experiments.

    Too hot: you lose some flavors and pick up some unpleasant flavors, and the hops fall out.

    Too Cold: Some of the proteins precipitate out, leaving you with a "clearer" more translucent beer. You lose mouthfeel and chew.

    Buy two unfiltered, bottle conditioned cloudy wheat beers and toss one in the a bucket of ice water for a couple hours. Pour them into identical glassware, next to each other. You can see the slight difference in opacity.

  4. Drinking temperature is usually said to be best at close to conditioning temp. For ales thats typically around 12celsius and 8celsius for lagers, though obviously personal prefernce comes into play and you can always allow a beer to warm up if its too cold when you pour it.