Beer is a $250 billion industry: it’s the drink of the masses. But that doesn’t mean you should have to settle on just any beer-drinking experience. The next time you’re craving a pint, follow these beer hacks to get the most out of your brew.
1. Use proper glassware.
Just like wine, different beers should be served in different glassware. Uniquely shaped glasses can help guarantee good head development and retention. Glassware also affects volatiles, the compounds that create aroma. Smell is a key factor in taste, so don’t waste it.
#SpoonTip: Don’t chill your glasses. This is a twofold problem as condensation will dilute your drink and the chill will affect serving temperature (more on that later).
2. Store it upright.
This may be a challenge if you’re rocking a classic dorm mini-fridge, but storing your beer on its side long term can have negative effects. The yeast sediment, instead of resting at the bottom, will cling to the sides in a yeast ring and may corrupt the flavor.
3. Don’t drink it ice cold.
A true aficionado knows that beer meant to be served ice cold is code for bad beer. Serving it ice cold masks the flavor (or lack there of), then all you can taste is the carbonation and that’s not what you want. A little warmth allows the aromatics to come through. The exact perfect serving temperatures for serving various kinds of beer are debated, but anything between 40° and 50° is generally accepted.
#SpoonTip: Of course, too warm can be just as bad as too cold. Don’t water down a pitcher by adding ice directly to it. Fill a plastic cup of ice and drop it into the pitcher.
4. Never freeze it.
Storage temperature matters too. Stored in a freezer, the proteins in beer lose their structure. These denatured proteins can even cause flakes to develop, ones which may not go away once defrosted. No one wants flakes in their drink.
#SpoonTip: If you want to use the freezer to rapidly cool a warm beer, wrap a wet paper towel around the bottle and put it in for just a couple of minutes.
5. Keep it out of direct sunlight.
Unless you enjoy skunky beer, which is as pleasant as it sounds—the terrible taste caused by the chemical compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, an almost identical match to the compound found in actual skunk glands—keep your pack of cold ones out of the sun. The hops in your beer break down when exposed to light, forming that stinky compound.
#SpoonTip: To avoid the skunk, whenever possible choose brown bottles over clear. Brown glass filters out UV rays best.
6. Give cans a try.
Do you really want to eliminate your chances of a skunky beer? Then pick up a can. Cans will keep your drink safe from UV rays better than any bottle ever could. And cans travel more easily, making them the perfect choice for camping or hiking. Don’t shy away based on the reputation of canned beer as sub par, more and more craft breweries are turning to cans and for good reason.
7. You can improve a bad beer.
They say that the best beer is free and you should never turn up your nose at a friendly offering just because a brew isn’t your brand of choice. There are many easy tricks to improve a mediocre beer; you can add a pinch of salt and some lime juice, or, for the best results I recommend a pinch of bitters.
8. Beer can be paired like wine.
Don’t let wine drinkers have all the fun. While a restaurant may recommend a different glass of wine for each meal, many ignore the pairing possibilities of beer. So educate yourself on making good meals even better with good beer.
9. You can cook with it
From sweet to savory, your favorite beverage can now be an major ingredient in your favorite foods. Why just drink beer when you can eat it too? There are limitless options, from cupcakes and gravy to waffles and burgers.
10. Draft isn’t always better.
While many consider the debate between draft and bottle beers settled (with the former as reigning king), watch out for bad draft lines. Properly maintained draft lines will deliver the freshest beer, but poorly maintained draft lines can deliver bacteria. If you’re at a dive bar you don’t trust, stick with a bottle.
11. Beer can expire.
Before you go crazy at the next big sale of your favorite brewery, remember that beer can go bad. While beer stored properly in the fridge can potentially last for two years, some may go bad after only months, especially if exposed to the elements. A lack of that satisfying “pssst” sound or white foam when you open the seal could mean it has gone flat.
12. Brew your own.
Take BYOB to the next level. Using malt, hops, yeast and water, you can create your own signature beer. First, you’ll just have to do two things: pick a name for your craft creation and pick up a home brew starter kit. And it won’t even break your bank, you can get a starter kit for roughly $50.