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Debunking the Beer Myths

There are a bunch of weird mistruths out there involving beer. Stuff that people quote as truth when they try to impress others at a party. More often than not, it makes a better quip than a fact. Though entertaining, they inevitably prove false. Following are three examples of the most common and the facts surrounding the issue:

Myth: Bock beer is made from the stuff at the bottom of the barrel of other beers and has some weird connection with goats.

Truth: Bock beer is a strong lager that originated in Germany. It is auburn in color and somewhat thick in character as a result of a heavy amount of malt. The strength and maltiness is what must have led to the rumor. In reality, no beer is made from the dregs of another. Porters used to be made that way but bock beers never were. The history of Bockbier involves princes, princesses, weddings and a party that was so great they decided to repeat it every year.

Regarding to the goat issue, it’s a matter of linguistics. ‘Bock’ is the German word for ‘ram’ and for this reason a lot of brands have a goat or ram on the label. Despite the synonym, the beer has nothing to do with the animal; it has more to do with the town where it was first brewed.

Myth: In England and Ireland, they serve beer warm.

Truth: Compared to the near freezing temperatures that beer is served at in this country, this is true but a closer look reveals a different story. Flavors and aromas in quality beers are more present when a beer is served at cellar temperature, roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Beer that’s too cold will be less nuanced. An ice-cold Miller is great to beat the heat, but a cellar temp Sam Smith is much finer beer to savor. Though temperature varies based on the type of beer and personal preference, rarely, if ever, is beer served warm.

Myth: The darker the beer, the more alcohol it contains.

Truth: The two don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another. While many of the stronger beers out there are rather dark, this has more to do with the fact that a strong beer likes to have a good amount of body in order to support the amount of alcohol. On the other hand, one of the best-known dark beers out there, Guinness, is lower in alcohol than most of the pale yellow American lagers on the market. The alcohol content is dependent on the amount of fermentable sugars in solution, mainly from malt. Malts impart color as well but by type, not quantity. A brewer could use pale malt in huge amounts and get a strong beer with little color. In addition, other ingredients like rice syrup, honey or corn syrup add alcohol without affecting color.

Brewing is a mysterious process to many people so the facts around it are often skewed. Hopefully this guide will clear up a few issues and help dispel the myths. Have a nice day.

February 19, 2002
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