Ah, the good old beer myth. We’ve heard our fair share over the years. Some are reasonable, some are downright crazy, some are probably libellous! But there are a few that come up time and again and so we thought it would be good to face them head on and debunk the top 5 beer myths in existence today.
We know this is a myth because we’ve helped countless customers go from “I don’t like beer” to “I didn’t know beer could taste like that”. We strongly believe there is a beer for everyone and those who say they don’t like beer, just haven’t found their favourite style yet. How can one say they don’t like beer when we know that there are over 65 styles, ranging from light pale ales, to eye wateringly sour beers, to roasted porters, to whiskey barrel aged barley wines! Only when you’ve tried every single style, will we accept that this is not a myth.
Myth 1: I don’t like beer
For decades, the theory went that beer in glass bottles were classier and therefore better than what you’d find in a can. This largely arose from a fairly understandable premise – until circa 2011 in the UK (a few years before in the USA), the only beer you would find in cans was industrial macrobrewed swill – Fosters, Carling, Carlsberg etc. – most of the time on an aggressively priced deal. Packaging in brown glass bottles was a clear point of differentiation for microbreweries looking to stand out in a crowded market.
Myth 2: Bottled beer is better than canned beer
Nowadays, as most craft beer consumers will have noticed, that trend is changing, at quite a rate. Actually, cans are better for the beer as they let in zero sunlight (so no skunking), have a tighter seal (thereby less oxidation) and are more environmentally friendly (as aluminium is easier and more efficient to recycle). On this basis therefore, canned beer is actually better than bottled beer and so we’re not surprised that most new breweries only offer their beers in can these days.
FUN FACT: The really big change that happened to allow small brewers to take advantage of canning was the huge reduction in minimum order quantities for printed cans – down from over 500,000 a few years ago to just a few thousand nowadays.
We hear this one a lot. And we can understand why. When you drink a pale ale, it feels heavier than a glass of chardonnay. But in fact they have around the same amount of calories. According to Drink Aware, a pint of beer has 182 calories whilst a 175ml glass of wine has 159 calories. Ok, not the same, but pretty close, particularly given the difference in liquid volume (568ml vs 175ml).
Beer is much more calorific than wine
So if you/I have a beer belly, it could be because you’re eating a fair bit of pub grub with your pints? Or your hangover cure is a bacon sarnie with extra bacon? Or perhaps you just prefer the pub to the running track. Either way, it’s not 100% the beer that is to blame!
We can see how this myth came about – it seems logical. And it’s true that if you are going to age a beer, it will age better if it is a stronger beer. But not all strong beers are born to be aged. Double IPAs for example, like Cloudwater DIPA, those that are hop heavy, are designed to be drunk fresh because hops fade fast and the last thing you want is a beer that tastes like old cheese! Likewise, that coffee porter you were planning to age? Don’t bother, unless you want your beer to end up tasting of old vegetables (coffee doesn’t tend to age well).
Myth 4: All strong beers are great for aging
If you do want to age beers (which is definitely something you should want to do), then go for either malt forward beers such as barley wines, old English Ales, and imperial stouts, or beers with wild yeasts, like Belgian Lambics which evolve in rather fun ways over time. Just don’t forget about them as not everything is made to last forever!
WRONG! This is a myth brilliantly propagated by the macro breweries through many decades of advertising and instore merchandise – who can forget those beer fonts coated in ice! And there is a pretty clear reason for this – cold beer numbs the palate, reducing the taste of the beer, so the drinker can drink more of them, in the same way as they would if drinking a glass of cold water.
Myth 5: Beer tastes better ice cold
Sure, some beers taste better cold – lagers, carbonated pale ales, IPAs, sours for example – but certainly not at near freezing. The best temperature to drink these styles is between 5 – 7℃. Cask ales (those that are served via hand pump on the bar) taste best at cellar temperature which is around 11℃ whilst porters and stouts also benefit from a warmer serving temperature. On top of that, flavours in beer change as the temperature changes so we always recommend not drinking a beer too quickly so you can appreciate the different flavour compounds that get released as the beer warms up.