Friday, July 14, 2006

Beer Myth #1

Since I've been writing this blog, I've been even more sensitive to what beers women order, how they order them and what that tells me about what they understand about beer. Every day I realize just how very much this blog is needed. Every day I'll get, oh I'd say, 8 million women who ask me for a light beer. When I ask them what they mean by light, they say, "You know, a beer that's not dark."

Its so .... sad.

Of course, every time I have to dispel what I call "Beer Myth #1." I feel like one of those dolls where they pull the string in the back and I just spit out the same things over and over and over again. It makes me want to do a little shoulder grabbing and shaking and drilling the following into the head of every beer drinker.

Beer Myth #1: A beer that is dark in color is bitter and heavy.

This is, by far, the biggest misconception that women have about beer. If you listen to nothing else I say, listen to this: The color of a beer has nothing what-so-ever to do with the strength, alcohol content, bitterness or "heaviness" of that beer. I'll say it again. Just because a beer is dark in color does not mean that it is heavy or bitter.

This misconception stems from, once again, the mass beer market, 90% of which are either pilsener style or american lager style beers. Budweiser, Busch, Michelob, Miller, Coors, Heineken, Moretti and Corona all fall into this category. They are all light in alcohol, very light in flavor, have virtually no aromatics and are very light in color. Because these beers are all that most of us have been exposed to, we wrongly associate that light color with those other "light" attributes.

Additionally, because these beers are not, in my opinion, necessarily good quality or good tasting (when compared to most craft and artisanal beer) many people, especially women, want these beers to be as light tasting as possible, so they don't experience so much of a not so great beer. They don't want a beer with an "aftertaste." What they are really saying is that they don't want a beer with a bad aftertaste. If something tastes great, wouldn't you want that flavor to linger?

The ONLY thing that the color of a beer tells you is how long and at what temperature the malts (grains) have been roasted that have been used in the making of that beer. Another ingredient in beer, HOPS, are responsible for the bitterness in beer, and hops have absolutely no visible characteristic in beer. The alcohol content of a beer is determined by the AMOUNT of malt used in making the beer, not the color. And the alcohol content of a beer is what determines the "heaviness," the weight or viscosity of a beer, again not the color.

Ordering a beer by its color is like judging a book by its cover. Instead, order a beer by what you feel like tasting. You don't even have to worry about using the correct "beer jargon." Who cares about that? I would rather you order a beer using flavor descriptors like: nutty, crisp, lemony, bitter, toasty, sweet, chocolatey, creamy, effervescent, bright, spicy, fruity, yeasty. Believe me, you'll get a beer that you might actually LIKE, versus a beer that you are trying to taste the least.

I'll quote another beer expert who wisely said, "Do not judge a beer by its color."

Seriously. I mean it.


  1. The Kid rocks at Toppers!

  2. How about dispelling the myth of Ben Franklin's quote? What he actually said was:

    "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."
    - Benjamin Franklin letter to Andre Morellet, July 1779