Before I started working in the historic brewery, there were a lot of half-truths or myths about beer that I thought were true. It’s surprising what ends up as common knowledge, even if it’s not always accurate! Let’s go through five beer myths and see how true they really are….
- Darker beers are stronger, more bitter, or more medicinal
I touched on this claim a little in my story of stout post. I hear this a lot down in the historic brewery, especially during porter and stout season. As soon as I pour out our inky black stout into the glass, many people assume that the darker the beer, the more alcoholic or bitter it will be.
Our stout comes in at 4.5%, which is a lower ABV than a commercial lager. In fact it has the same ABV as our session ale, the best bitter. As for bitterness, our stout does tend to have a roasted grains/coffee flavor, but it scores significantly lower on the IBU scale than other brews like our India Pale Ale.
The myth about stout being a medicinal beer comes from the story that nursing women in Ireland were “prescribed” a pint of Guinness to renew their strength and iron levels after breastfeeding. The fact that the typical mouthfeel of a stout is hearty and thick likely leads the drinker to believe it is a beer rich in vitamins and minerals. However, the medical validity of this claim is very questionable, and stout is no healthier for you than any other unfiltered beer. It is unlikely that beer will cure your iron deficiency or help you breast feed, but it does have some iron and B-12 in it from the brewer’s yeast!
2. Beer before liquor makes you sick, but liquor before beer does not.
I’ve heard this myth a million times, especially when I first started drinking. No matter what you drink in any order, drinking to excess will make you sick and likely give you a nasty hangover the next day. You can do it in any order you like, the results will still be the same. However, beer is normally consumed more slowly than a shot of hard alcohol, so maybe this myth comes from the perception that starting hard and finishing slow will help your body process the alcohol better. Either way, getting sick or hungover is solely dependent on your body’s tolerance and the amount you have decided to drink.
3. Beer tastes best straight out of the fridge, ice cold
Of course, this is purely a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer ice cold beer straight out of the fridge, and that’s okay. However, cold beer actually numbs the taste buds, making it more difficult to taste all the nuances that it has to offer. It is actually recommended that ales (such as the ones found in the Black Creek historic brewery) be served at cellar temperature. It is even recommended that dark ales be served at room temperature for best enjoyment. In case you are wondering, cellar temperature is around 50F, and room temperature is about 55F.
4. A beer lower in alcohol has less flavor
This is similar to myth #1, and likely comes from the same mindset. It is completely untrue that a beer lower in alcohol tastes more “watery” or has less flavor. Again using our 4.5% stout as an example, our stout is full of rich coffee and roasted grains flavor. I would argue that our stout has some of the most intense flavors and nuances out of any beer we brew. To get a better sense of how a beer will taste, look at the IBU and any available tasting notes instead of looking to the ABV.
5. Beer is calorie dense/gives you a “beer belly”
From personal experience, I can say firsthand that drinking a lot of beer does not necessarily give you a beer belly. 🙂 However, beer is like any other food or drink indulgence – when consumed in excess, you may start to notice changes in your body. Beer ranges anywhere from 65-300 calories depending on the type of beer and serving size. When consumed responsibly and paired with good eating habits and an active lifestyle, beer is not likely to give you a belly or cause any sort of excess weight gain.
So there you have it! I hope this clears up any beer misconceptions you may have. Next time you hear one of these myths at a party or at the bar, you’ll know better and have a little extra knowledge to dispute it!