There are so many opinions about what makes craft beer good and why. Craft beer is hot and it creates some strong opinions (just take a look at the discussions on our new online forum!) There some facts and objectives truths and a bunch of subjective tastes. It’s always important to anchor yourself in some truths. Brett Kihlmire over at Urban Milwaukee just posted a list of 27 Beer Myths and they are great! Here’s 20 of them. Head over to their website for the final seven!
Beer should be served cold
Many American consumers insist on this. Some mock our European cousins for drinking their beer warm or cellar temperature. In fact, beer isn’t at its best ice cold. For example, lagers are best between 42 and 48 degrees, ales between 44 and 52, and stouts at around 55 degrees. In fact, the only beers that should be served ice cold are high gravity-beers such as old ales (the style, not an old beer), barleywine, and barrel-aged stouts.
Cold filtered beer is superior beer
Actually, there is no such thing as warm filtering; the only kind of filtering is cold. All beers must be kept at a very cold temperature for the lagering process to take place – common lagering temperatures are 33-45 degrees farenheit.
A beer is a beer
Yes, there are still die-hards out there making this ridiculous claim. In reality, between the two classifications of beer, which are ale and lager, there are at least 70 mother styles with countless secondary styles branching off into different worlds of flavor, aroma, color, and bitterness.
All dark beers are the same
Schwarzbier, Dunkel, Stout are the three most common dark beers. While all are dark in color they are greatly different in terms of specialty malts, hops, and yeast. For example, schwarzbier relies on black malt for its color, and somewhat for its bitterness; a stout uses black malt, too, but also roasted barley, and flaked oats or wheat for head retention; a dunkel forgoes the black malt in favor of a dark crystal malt and chocolate malt for its color and sweetness. Lastly, when a beer is referred to as Dark or Special Dark, chances are you’re drinking a dunkel or a schwarzbier, respectively.
All beer is bitter
Bitterness is determined by the level of International Bitterness Units, or IBU’s, in your beer. Bitterness is mainly derived from hops, therefore a beer can be as bitter as the brewer wishes. A prime example of a weakly hopped beer is a milk stout, which is prized for its sweetness over its bitterness. On the flip side, a triple IPA is brewed to be very bitter.
American lagers aren’t really pilsners
This one has caused more than its fair share of bar arguments and angry comments on social media. The American Adjunct Lager originated as a German Pilsner, which is traditionally made with hallertau hops, pilsner malt, water, and German lager yeast, while the original Czech recipe swaps Hallertau for Saaz and German yeast for Czech. The American variant that has come to dominate the American market is essentially a German Pilsner modified to use less hops to dial back on bitterness, and a portion of the base malt substituted with an adjunct such as corn or rice to make for a lighter body and color. As a result, we get an American variant of the classic pilsner that appeals more to the masses.
Lager is light and ale is dark
This myth comes from the fact that the most common lager on the market is the golden American Adjunct. But in fact, both ales and lagers can range from pale golden to black. An example of a dark lager is Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark and and example of a light ale is Delirium Tremens, which is a Belgium Strong Pale Ale.
Head is a bad thing
While some find head to be appealing to look at but awful to taste, head serves a purpose – it traps in flavor and aroma, preserving your beer. The more complex the beer, the more you’ll want a frothing cap guarding your beer from the air.
Triple hop brewed beers are special
Another sore subject that tends to divide beer lovers, especially in Milwaukee where this slogan, “triple hop brewed,” has become synonymous with local brewing giant Miler Coors. For anyone with a decent knowledge of brewing, the sales pitch is silly since almost all beer styles are made with three additions of hops, one at the beginning to achieve bitterness, another halfway through for flavor, and a third in the final minutes for aroma. Most interestingly, some beers only use a single type of hops, but use it three times.
Drinking beer before liquor causes a terrible hangover
Not really. Like anything with alcohol, beer will cause you to expel water more quickly. As a result, you become dehydrated and will suffer a hangover if you don’t replace the lost water. Generally, most microbrews are on par with a shot of rum or whisky in terms of total alcohol per serving. The difference is that beer is consumed slower, meaning you have a greater chance of sobering up than you do with a shot of liquor, thus giving you a better chance to rehydrate before your bladder kicks into overdrive.
European beer is skunky
In the past people have attributed a skunky flavor to the style of European lagers, but in actuality, this is the product of light spoilage caused by the green bottles being exposed to sunlight. If your beer tastes skunky, it’s not a true version of the beer, it means it’s technically gone bad (though some enjoy it that way).
Draft is Best for Beer
This is a matter of preference, and may depend on the particular beer, but draft beer, despite its many virtues, does present an issue that bottles and cans don’t – dirty lines.
Bottle is better than can
Cans have actually been proven to better preserve beer. Also, depending on whether the bottles use steel caps and not aluminum, they can give the beer a metallic taste if consumed from the bottle itself. To test what material your favorite beer uses, grab a magnet – steel is magnetic, aluminum is not. If it’s steel, just use a glass.
Sour beer is bad beer
Yes and no. A sour beer means its been infected by microorganisms in the air and has spoiled. But Belgian brewers have been making purposefully sour beers for centuries and they’re just now hitting their stride stateside.
Beer has an expiration date
Quite possibly the most ingenious move by brewers was to put an “expiration date” on their beer. Since we’re all conditioned to fear consuming something past the printed date, we’ll throw out the old and buy a fresh batch. But for beer, there really isn’t an expiration date; the date is more of a warning that the beer will begin to change from its original flavor. If the beer is kept in a cool, dark place, aging your beer should have no adverse effects, and just might improve it. Of course, if your beer is kept in a humid spot where the sunlight is constantly beating on the bottles, you can count on a skunky beer.
Beer is weak in comparison to wine
When comparing the vast majority of beers, this is true, considering the average ABV of wine and beer is 11 and 5 percent respectively. Of course, there do exist a few varieties of beer that are on par with wine in ABV. One such variety is, appropriately, named Barley Wine.
Beer shouldn’t have sediment
Filtered beer is done strictly for appeal and mass production. Meanwhile, it’s customary in parts of Belgium to leave the sediment and consume it along with the beer. This may sound disgusting, but yeast sediment is rich in B vitamins. Sediment is also typically found in home-brewed beers and unfiltered beer is becoming trendy in the craft-brew world. Lastly, if you’ve had a wheat beer, you’ve likely had an unfiltered beer.
Ales and lagers are the same thing
Nope. Ales are made with top fermenting yeast at warmer temperatures, while lager is brewed with bottom fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. To further differentiate, a lager is held in cold storage for several months, while ale is ready for bottling and conditioning the moment fermentation is complete.
Beer will make you fat
The average beer can range from 100 to 200 calories, while the average adult male burns 2,000 calories per day without exercise. While binge drinking can surely add on the calories, the bigger contributor to that “beer belly” may be the food you eat when you drink, especially fast food like fries or pizza. A Miller Lite is around 100 calories, a Big Mac with fries is around 1,000.
Beer should be kept warm until ready
To an American, warm is anything not refrigerated, and by that definition, warm is all wrong. As noted, beer is best kept in a cool, dark place such as a basement. Doing so will ensure minimal light exposure and avoid any drastic change in temperature, both of which will spoil your beer.