Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Other people’s beliefs may be myths, but not mine.
I heard you all missed me, so I’m back.
It’s been a time of change for your faithful Twin beer correspondent. As of January 1, I have more responsibilities, and I’ve moved from the Galleria Marketplace to the main offices. (Worry not; the beer section at the Galleria is in excellent hands.) So I thought I would come back with a bit of a bang – it’s time once again to joust at the windmill of common belief and explode a few more beer myths. (I do wish I was as cool as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman sometimes, but I’ll get over it.)
Sacred Cow Number One: Beer is best served ice cold.
Now, I know some of you are oenophiles as well, so I’m going to ask you one question: do you drink all your wine ice cold? Usually not – red wines are typically drunk a little cooler than room temperature, so as to make sure the richer and stronger flavors come out. The same thing applies to beer. Don’t drink your Guinness or your Jester King Black Metal right out of the refrigerator. Give it a little time to warm up; somewhere between 45F and 60F is the usual range. You will taste more of the nutty, roasty, and umami notes that dark beer abounds with. Lagers and other pale beers can be drunk ice-cold, but you might find that allowing a little more warmth may change or even improve the flavor of your favorite lawnmower beer. This is all about experimentation, and that means you get to drink more beer. It’s a win-win situation.
Sacred Cow Number Two: Imported beers are stronger than light beers.
Tell that to the English, who are fond of mild session beers, some of which clock in as low as 2%. Or to the Germans – it’s a rare German beer that clocks in over 6%. Guinness Draft has an alcohol content of 4.1%; the Irish share their love of easy-drinking, lower alcohol beers with the English and the Scots. Foreign beers may taste different, but they’re not stronger. The corollary to this that you hear a lot is that dark beers are stronger than light beers; again, incorrect. The color of a beer has to do with how the malt is roasted, which has no effect on alcohol content.
Sacred Cow Number Three: Draft beer is better than bottled beer.
Both draft beer and bottle beer quality depend more on other variables. Is the beer fresh? Is this a reputable draft establishment that cleans and maintains their draft system properly? Is the beer bottle-conditioned – or, to put it in less beer-geek terms, is the beer bottled with life yeast so that it continues to ferment, thereby gaining complexity and flavor? Saying that one type is always better than another is fallacious; the first old draft beer you have, or the first really good bottled beer, will shatter that myth once and for all.
There is one grain of truth to this myth, however. Beer has three great enemies; oxygen, sunlight, and temperature extremes. In general, draft beer is better protected from all three of these – so if everything else is equal, draft beer has a small advantage. But it’s nowhere near as clear-cut as the cow would have us believe.
Until next time, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malt toasty, and your hops snappy.