You may hail from one of the best beer states or prefer your routine of a Bud Light bottle, but either way, you likely believe one of these common beer myths.
Beer experts have revealed the common misconceptions beer drinkers believe about their brews, including the biggest myth of all that you probably believe about your gut (page 7).
Beer before liquor, never been sicker
You’ve blocked your ears before as your friends yell at you in the wake of a nasty hangover: Why’d you start with beer? Turns out that “liquor before beer, never fear,” is less a motto to live by and more of a myth.
It isn’t the order you drink different alcohol in, but the quantity you drink that makes the largest difference, as well as mixing alcohols in general: dark and light liquors, beers, and wines. “Could it be that ending with the higher-ABV drink causes bad decisions? I think quantity has a lot more to do with it than the order in which you consume them,” Steph Harding, editor of MittenBrew told Thrillist.
Next: Beer’s color doesn’t make as much a difference as you thought.
The darker the beer, the higher the ABV
It’s a common misconception that the darker your brew, the more alcohol content it has. However, your beer’s color is determined by its malt and how long its brewing process is, not its ABV. For example, the darkest beer commonly sold in the U.S. — Guinness — only contains 4.2% alcohol. “Because Guinness is black, most people think that it’s a very strong beer,” an expert told Men’s Health.
Next: Don’t blame this scapegoat for your skunked beer.
When cold beer gets warm it skunks
We usually call an ice cold beer gone warm “skunked,” but that’s actually incorrect. Your beer skunks because of its exposure to the UV rays, not because it gets warmer in the heat. While warmed beer may become staler quicker, it’s the chemical reaction that occurs when the beer is “lightstruck,” a term used by chemists and brewers, that actually skunks your brew.
Brown bottles block light, and cans and kegs are actually the best bet for protecting your beer from the sun.
Next: Things are heating up.
Ice cold beer is the only way to go
Beer actually tastes best served between 40-55 degrees, Bryn Carey from Great Beer Now told Thrillist. “Macrobreweries are largely responsible for perpetuating the cold-temperature falsehood … Ice-cold beer numbs the palate, reducing the taste of the beer, and potentially leading to drinking more of them.”
Darker beer is better for you
It depends on your definition of “better.” Dark wines and beers tend to have more antioxidants than their lighter counterparts, but they also have contaminants called congeners in them. Darker liquors like whiskey and rum also have them, and they’re essentially byproducts of the fermentation process that add color and flavor.
The problem with congeners, Health says, is that they’re harder to digest. As they bottleneck in your system, you’ll likely experience a hangover that’s much worse than if you had drunk the same amount of a lighter alcohol. According to a 2008 study, it also takes fewer dark drinks to get you to that same awful place the next morning.
Next: Settling the debate on the “freshest” beer of all.
Draft brews are the freshest of all
The beer hierarchy is a common myth: draft, then bottle, then can. In reality, canned beers are often the freshest. While properly maintained draft lines give you the freshest beer from a tap, some bars allow their lines to pollute with “unwelcome microbes,” Men’s Health found.
Dave Glor, a German-trained brewer, called the draft system “not a sterile situation,” citing that acetobacter, which creates a stench of vinegar, “can grow in dirty tap faucets.” While clean bars will rinse their faucets appropriately, canned beer seems to be the way to go, and is least likely to skunk.
Next: The subjectivity of “better” beer.
Aging craft beer makes it ‘better’
Cellars are designed to age beers that get “better” with age like craft brews, and while they do change the flavor, they don’t actually improve the beer. David Acra, an area manager at New Belgium Brewing Co., said, “Properly made beer is ready to be consumed as soon as it is bottled … You may favor a properly cellared beer more than the fresh one. But ‘better’ is always up for debate.”
Next: Say goodbye to your “beer gut.”
Wine is healthier than beer
We’re not calling beer the new kombucha. However, most experts think it gets a bad rap when compared with other alcoholic drinks. “Excess calories from beer are no more likely to contribute to weight gain than excess calories from anything else,” Christian Finn, M.S., told Thrillist. Czech researchers found it unlikely that beer intake correlated to increased BMI in a study on beer and obesity, and a 2011 review of over 30 studies on the subject only cited binge drinking as a cause of weight gain.
As far as the beer and wine debate, wine connoisseurs claim the polyphenol resveratrol is what makes a glass of wine good for your heart. Charles Bamforth, Ph.D. and professor of malting and brewing sciences at The University of California-Davis, called resveratrol a “grossly overplayed health story,” and pointed out that “beer’s polyphenols are every bit as potent as wine’s.”
Next: You can stop worrying about this supposed health concern.
Alcohol kills brain cells
This one you can probably credit to your grandmother or anyone sober who’s witnessed the antics of their drunk peers. But if you’re enjoying a social drink or two, you don’t have anything to worry about in this category.
Alcohol can be damaging to developing brains, which is why it’s a concern for unborn children and even for teenagers. But for adults, drinking alcohol doesn’t damage or kill entire cells. It does damage dendrites, The New York Times reports, which are the parts of neurons that help with learning and coordination. At most, it’s why drinking too much affects your ability to walk in a straight line or text a flawless message without typos.
Long-term drinking has other side effects that can ultimately lead to serious health concerns, but killing off brain cells isn’t one of them.
Next: This won’t actually prevent a hangover.
Taking an aspirin before you drink wards off a hangover
First things first: By the time you feel the effects of drinking too much, the aspirin you took ahead of time will have worn off. So not only is this a useless tactic, but taking painkillers at the wrong time can cause serious damage.
It’s especially important not to take aspirin or ibuprofen while you’re still drinking. The combination of the drugs and alcohol will further irritate your stomach lining, cause your liver to become inflamed, and allow more alcohol into your bloodstream. In essence, taking it too soon will have the opposite effect you’re looking for. If you wake up the next morning with that nuisance day-after headache, however, aspirin is still your best bet to alleviate some of the more terrible symptoms.
Next: You won’t believe that beer is no worse than this after a workout.
Beer sets your workout routine back
While you might think you need to down a few glasses of water post-exercise before hitting the bar with your friends, research indicates it isn’t necessary. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effects of rehydrating with beer versus water after exercising during hot conditions. The results found those who tanked up with beer were no worse off than those who consumed water. But keep in mind, we’re talking about standard beer rather than the craft brews that boast 10% alcohol content.
Additional reporting by Nikelle Murphy.
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