We’ve all been there. You’re sharing some cold ones with friends, and the group’s beloved know-it-all drops some beer-related wisdom that sounds a little far-fetched. We want to set the record straight about some of the common claims you hear around the barstools, so we caught up with beer experts from all around Firestone Walker to find out what myths keep them up at night and let them explain the truth. Keep reading to find out if your favorite “beer facts” are busted or confirmed.
Myth: Beer should never have sediment.
Ever poured a hazy DIPA into a glass and worried about some stuff you saw floating around in it? Amy Crook, Quality Control Manager at Firestone Walker, says there’s nothing to worry about.
“Hazy and most barrel-aged beers are unfiltered, and as a result, have a high amount of proteins, polyphenols, and yeast left in solution,” explained Amy Crook, Quality Control Manager at Firestone Walker. “These can form larger compounds that can fall out of solution to the bottom of your beer and cause sediment.”
In fact, sediment in your beer can be desirable. “Some people even say that sediment can enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of your beer,” she said.
Learn more about how sediment happens in this blog post.
Myth: Letting cold beer reach room temperature, then cooling it again, will “skunk” it.
That “skunky” taste you hear about is more a result of light exposure than it is about cooling and warming the beer. That’s why you’ll see many bottled beers in dark-colored glass – it allows less light to get through and impact the liquid.
Josh Wood, our Specialty Beer Sales Manager, makes a good point: “Obviously, major temperature swings back and forth aren’t good for the product. But every case in a grocery store gets warm in the back room before being put in the beer cooler.”
Myth: Beer from cans, bottles, and draft all taste different.
Our Sensory Research Analyst, Craig Thomas, is tasked with regularly testing beer from different packaging and ensuring the highest quality across the board. His take on the myth? “This is generally not true, although there are a few exceptions.”
“Our panel regularly identifies one-way kegs (i.e. plastic key kegs) as having a slightly different flavor from other packaging types. Any other flavor differences are likely more a product of storage conditions or service as opposed to the package itself. For instance, glass bottles (especially green or clear ones) allow light ingress, which can produce a skunky, ‘lightstruck’ character of the beer. If a draft beer tastes different from a can or bottle, this is probably due to the draft system, not the keg itself.”
Myth: Beer can’t go bad.
This one’s a bit more complicated – it depends on what exactly you mean by “go bad.”
“Pathogens cannot live in beer, so from a health standpoint, beer cannot go bad,” Craig explained. “But age and temperature have a huge impact on how all beer tastes. Some beer styles retain the ‘fresh factor’ better than others, and many brewers have gotten very good at slowing the rate of aging flavors developing in their beer. But the fresher your beer, the better!”
Find out more about beer expiration in this blog post.
Myth: You should pour your beer gently to prevent extra foam.
This one’s a battle that we may never see an end to – do you tilt the glass and pour gently to reduce foaminess, or do you follow the advice of that viral video and pour hard to get all the foam out?
“While it’s not a good idea to totally upend a bottle and pour straight foam, you should be pouring ‘with vigor’ for several reasons,” Craig told us.
- Foam lends an aesthetic appeal to beer in the glass, and brewers work hard to make sure beer has a good foam.
- You want to knock some CO2 out of solution, allowing it to carry aromatic compounds out of the beer with it.
- That CO2 is either coming out of solution in the glass or in your stomach. If you pour with vigor, you’ll decrease the amount of bloating and burping you’ll experience.
Myth: Beer is always best served ice-cold.
The ideal serving temperature for beer depends on the type of beer you’re drinking. Light lagers and pilsners are served very cold, while darker ales and stouts are better at slightly warmer temperatures. This is why you may read on some of our Vintage bottles, “allow to warm in the glass.”
Serving beer too cold can actually mask its flavors and aromas, and of course, there’s a layer of personal preference here too. So it’s worth experimenting with serving temperatures to find the perfect level of coldness for your favorite beer.
Myth: Dark beer is always stronger than light beer.
The color of beer doesn’t necessarily indicate its strength. While some dark beers like stouts and porters can have a higher alcohol content, there are many light-colored beers, like double IPAs, that have a higher ABV.
But the misconceptions surrounding dark versus light beer go further than just the alcohol content. Sam Tierney, Brewery Manager at our Propagator R&D brewhouse, explained: “Guinness Draught is the classic example of a dark beer that actually has a very light body and low alcohol. It’s the same strength as light lagers and has a similar viscosity, but for some reason, everyone seems to think it’s this super thick, chewy beer.”