Craft Beer Demystified: 3 of the Most Common Myths Debunked – Box Brew Kits

Craft Beer Demystified: 3 of the Most Common Myths Debunked

god of intoxicating drinks DionysusAnything that’s been around for thousands of years is bound to have a few myths about it. Beer falls under that category. And if you’ve ever gotten into it with another craft beer lover, there’s lots of debate around what’s fact and what’s fiction. We wanted to take a moment to explore three of the most common myths we hear—many of which seem to be worth inspecting simply because the deliciousness of craft beer has surfaced a major appreciation for drinking beer the right way. 

1. Beer should be served as cold as possible

Coors’ beer-so-cold-it-turns-mountains-blue campaign might numb your mouth just enough to get you through one of their cans, but it’s a bit misleading. In reality, different beer styles are meant to be drank at different temperatures. breaks down which beers belong in which temperature category very well. In the “Very Cold” category, 0-4C/32-39F, they appropriately disclaim that those are typically “Any beer you don’t actually want to taste.” Surprise, surprise—Coors blue mountains activate at 39F.

Here’s their suggested serving temperatures:

  • Very cold (0-4C/32-39F): Pale Lager, Malt Liquor, Canadian-style Golden Ale and Cream Ale, Low Alcohol, Canadian, American or Scandinavian-style Cider.
  • Cold (4-7C/39-45F): Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Kölsch, Premium Lager, Pilsner, Classic German Pilsner, Fruit Beer, brewpub-style Golden Ale, European Strong Lager, Berliner Weisse, Belgian White, American Dark Lager, sweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Duvel-types
  • Cool (8-12C/45-54F): American Pale Ale, Amber Ale, California Common, Dunkelweizen, Sweet Stout, Stout, Dry Stout, Porter, English-style Golden Ale, unsweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Faro, Belgian Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, Dunkel, Dortmunder/Helles, Vienna, Schwarzbier, Smoked, Altbier, Tripel, Irish Ale, French or Spanish-style Cider
  • Cellar (12-14C/54-57F): Bitter, Premium Bitter, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, English Strong Ale, Old Ale, Saison, Unblended Lambic, Flemish Sour Ale, Bière de Garde, Baltic Porter, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Strong Ale, Weizen Bock, Bock, Foreign Stout, Zwickel/Keller/Landbier, Scottish Ale, Scotch Ale, American Strong Ale, Mild, English-style Cider
  • Warm (14-16C/57-61F): Barley Wine, Abt/Quadrupel, Imperial Stout, Imperial/Double IPA, Doppelbock, Eisbock, Mead
  • Hot (70C/158F): Quelque Chose, Liefmans Glühkriek, dark, spiced winter ales like Daleside Morocco Ale.

It’s actually quite interesting to try out different types of beers at or around these suggested temperatures. Some brewers will go so far as to list the temperatures on their bottles or cans for optimal enjoyment. We suggest a mini fridge with temperature control.

The real challenge is cooling multiple beer styles at the same time—first world problems, right?

2. The fresher the beer, the better the taste

Although most craft beers are meant to be enjoyed fresh, anyone who’s heard of cellaring or ageing knows there are some beers which improve in taste and other attributes as time goes on.

It’s been said that hoppy beers are almost always meant to be enjoyed fresh—hence releases like Stone Brewing Co.’s Enjoy by IPA. The more craft beer drinkers learn about drinking and brewing beer, however, the more we’re starting to hear of experimentation with the ageing process.

beer cellaring

If you’re so inclined, shared some tips and tricks on the ageing process:

  • Beer style: Craft beers over 7 percent ABV with strong flavors (eg: smoked malt) tend to handle age better than others.
  • Light: Ultraviolet light reacts with compounds in beer to develop the dreaded skunky character. Keep all beer in the dark.
  • Temperature: Warmer temperatures speed up the effects of aging. Keep beers cool to cold, but don’t let them freeze.
  • Movement: Agitation aides in the effects of oxidation and age. Set’em and forget’em.

So, what does cellaring do? If it’s an appropriate beer to age, it tends to increase or intensify certain characteristics. For instance, characteristics like bitterness, earthiness, and breadiness will often all intensify. On the other hand, it’s been said that fruitiness will decrease over time.

Considering that we sell brewing kits for urban dwellers, often living in tight quarters, we hear lots of stories of craft beer aficionados battling with their significant others for their beer ageing hobby.

3. Canned beer isn’t as good as bottled

This is an age-old myth. People tend to associate canned beer with classic macro beers, and some claim they give off a metallic taste. Truth is, it’s totally subjective which tastes better. But it’s worth noting that a select few craft beer pundits aren’t just jumping on the canned beer bandwagon, they’re riding it straight to hell—or wherever they’re headed.

Many people arguing in favor of canned beer are quick to point out that there’s scientifically no fresher beer than canned beer. Here’s why: regardless of which method is used—bottled or canned—beer must be stored somehow. When it comes to storing bottled beer, there are two main concerns: oxygen and light.

  • Oxygen: Over time, oxygen can creep its way under bottle caps and oxidize beer. The taste this makes is often described as “wet cardboard.” This isn’t a major threat, but it’s worth mentioning because capping a beer bottle is not equal to completely shutting out the oxygen.
  • Light: Excessive light exposure can cause that skunky smell and flavor in beer—particularly hoppy ones. According to Four Peaks Brewing Company, “This is called light-struck It happens as light waves break down hop molecules, called isohumulones (or isomerized alpha acids) and produces a chemical that, welp, is related to the same chemical that a skunk sprays on its victims.”

Fun fact, some brewers purposefully let light hit the beer, like Heineken, which gives it that famous skunky flavor.

Back to the myths vs. facts, though. Canned beer keeps oxygen and light from interacting the beer while it’s being stored. In addition to that, cans weigh less, so they’re easier to transport. They’re better for stacking. They cool faster. And some experts say they’re better for the environment.

We’re not necessarily set on canned or bottled beer right now, but the benefits of cans are worth pointing out.

What’s your favorite beer myth? Tweet it to us at @boxbrewkits.

Top image credit - Derek Key / Cellaring image - Detroit Beer / Beer can image - Ian Wescott

In the market for a holiday gift? Check out our new selection of beer and wine making kits here.

December 02, 2015 by Michael Langone
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