When I started drinking beer, I was under the impression that it only came in one flavor, and that flavor was gross. After sampling the gamut from Keystone Ice to Keystone Light (it was college), I assumed I didn’t like beer because all beer tasted like bubbly sadness that was wrapped in regret and peed on by a dehydrated bull elephant. Years later, when I was properly introduced to the stuff, I was blown away by the variety of scents, tastes, and textures you can experience in a pint. A hollow sadness swept over me; I had wasted so many years drinking cheap pomegranate-flavored vodka when I could have enjoyed crisp lagers, robust stouts, and powerful IPAs.
Which brings me to the subject of beer myths. There are certain generally-accepted “truths” about beer that are complete hogwash (pardon my French). Worst of all, like my cheap beer mishap, these myths could prevent people from enjoying beer to the fullest and experiencing all the greatness craft beer has to offer.
Here are 5 very common beer myths, and the truth behind them:
1. Beer is best when it’s super cold: This is probably the biggest beer myth out there, and it’s propagated by America’s macrobrew industry. Beer commercials are full of snow-capped mountains, frosty glasses, and beer being yanked from buckets of ice. Industry leaders are constantly debuting new cold-can technologies, and restaurants brag about having the world’s coldest beer on tap. The truth is when beer is served at room temperature, it unlocks certain flavors and scents and showcases the complexity of the brew. The exact temps vary from style to style, but ratebeer.com has a great guide to help you out.
2. The darker the beer, the more alcohol: There is an assumption that dark beers like stouts and porters have a higher alcohol content than light-colored lagers. The truth is the color of beer comes from the malts, which are roasted for certain beers to give them a darker color and a nutty flavor without impacting the alcohol levels. For example, the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of a Guinness is 4.1%, which is slightly less than Bud Light (4.2%).
3. Beer “skunks” when it is exposed to changing temperatures: If you had ever tasted skunked beer, you’d remember what it tastes like; just thinking about that sulfur smell is enough to make you queasy. The myth is that beer gets that way from being exposed to changing temperatures (cold to warm), when in fact it’s the light that affects the taste. This is why most beer makers choose brown bottles for their product.
4. US Beers are second-rate: US beer gets a bad rap world wide, the belief being that Budweiser and MillerCoors set the standard for all brewing in America. This is completely false; there are tons of amazing beers brewed right here, in fact there’s an entire week dedicated to craft brewing in the United States. If you step out of the haze of macrobrews and look to your local breweries, you might be surprised by how great the beer is in the good old Brew-S-A.
5. All beer tastes pretty much the same: False! If all you’ve ever had is American Lagers, expand your horizons. There’s a beer out there for everyone, and I promise you you’ll find one (probably more) you’ll fall in love with.
Keep these myths in mind the next time you grab for a beer, and happy drinking!