For such a universally familiar beverage as beer, its fans have a surprising array of quirky methods for drinking it. We take a look at a handful of common ideas about beer, and attempt to sort fact from fiction.
Tapping on the lid of your beer does … something
Do you tap your beer can before cracking it open? The theory is a couple of firm taps on the lid will stop an outpouring of frothy beer from the carbonated can. For some it’s second nature, but does it stand up to science?
Your chilled can of beer is full of tiny bubbles that are attached to the inside walls. When you pierce the aluminium with the ring-pull at the top, these bubbles rush to the surface and emit a satisfying hiss as the gas meets the air. Too many bubbles and you get an eruption of foam.
The idea behind the taps – outlined in fascinating detail by chemistry lecturer Chris Hamlett at The Conversation – is that the impact frees the bubbles from the can’s interior and allows them to float to the surface. When you open the can, there are fewer beer-displacing bubbles to rise to top and thus, hopefully, no surge of froth.
True or false?: true.
Putting lime in beer keeps the bottle sterile
The internet is awash with theories explaining why we push a lime wedges into the neck of bottles of Mexican cerveza. Some say it’s “tradition”. Others that the citrus vapours keep the flies away, the lime aroma disguises the smell of “skunked” beer (UV degradation in a clear glass bottle), and, weirdly, that the habit caught on after a bored bartender came up with the idea in 1981.
Another theory is the lime sterilises a bottle possibly exposed to unsanitary conditions during its manufacture, transport and storage, therefore making it safer to drink. There is a kernel of truth to this story: lime does have scientifically proven antimicrobial properties. A 2004 study found undiluted lime juice is effective against bacterial nasties such as staphylococcus, E. coli and salmonella. We recommend erring on the side of caution and keeping this tradition going.
True or false?: true (enough).
You can’t carry more than three pints
Everyone’s collected three pints in classic pyramid formation on the bar mat, lifted them up with pinky fingers stretching out underneath for balance, and parted the crowd a hero. There is at least one man on the internet who claims he can carry five pints thanks to his “freakishly large hands”, but test this at your own peril.
Ferrying five pint glasses in one go is impressive, but it’s not a patch on the world-record-breaking effort by Oliver Struempfel; he managed to carry 29 tankards full of beer at once at Abensberg in Germany in September. To train for his Herculean feat, the German reportedly went to the gym four times a week for six months. The previous record – 27 jugs – was Struempfel’s own.
True or false?: false. But not recommended.
Wrapping beer in a wet paper towel will chill it faster
It’s Friday. You walk in the door after a hellish day at work with a six-pack fresh from the bottle shop under your arm. Plonking it on the kitchen table you pluck the beer from its cradle to discover it’s warm. The horror.
Don’t despair – there is something you can do. Wrapping beer in a wet paper towel will indeed chill it faster. Lifehacker says: “A … can wrapped in wet paper towel and put in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes will cool about 10 degrees more than an unwrapped can.” Our own Dr Karl confirmed this with Broadsheet last year. “Put it in the freezer and keep an eye on it,” he told us, explaining the process works via evaporation around the bottle.
True or false?: true.
Throwing beer on the barbie is a good idea
Australians are famous for throwing all sorts of things on barbeques: shrimps, snags and beer. The prawns and sausages are fine, but it turns out dousing our barbequing meats in beer is a bad idea.
Ben Farley is the director of The BBQ Cooking School in Sydney. He says adding beer while cooking on a barbeque is a “blokey” flourish that is best avoided. Use beer as a marinade before the meat gets to the grill, or as a later addition by way of a sauce. “On the barbeque you grill – not stew or boil,” he says. “However, a sneaky splash over onions towards the end can be okay.”
Farley’s advice? “Buy good beer so you are more tempted to drink it than pour it out.”
True or false?: false.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.