WTF Fun Fact 13754 – Why Does Beer Taste Better Cold?

Beer lovers agree: a cold beer tastes better. But why? Let’s explore the science behind why chilling beer improves its taste. It turns out that temperature plays a crucial role in how we perceive flavors and aromas.

The Science of Temperature and Beer Taste

Our taste buds react differently to various temperatures. Cold temperatures numb the taste buds slightly. This numbing effect can dull strong, bitter flavors and highlight more subtle, refreshing notes. Many beers, especially lagers and pilsners, benefit from this cooling effect. They taste crisp and clean when served cold.

Warm beer, on the other hand, can be overwhelming. Warmer temperatures amplify the beer’s bitterness and alcohol content. This can make the beer taste too intense and less enjoyable. A study published in the “Journal of Sensory Studies” confirms that people prefer the taste of beer served at lower temperatures​ (KnowBC)​.

Cold Beer and Carbonation

Carbonation also plays a big role in the taste of beer. Cold temperatures help maintain the beer’s carbonation. This keeps the beer lively and bubbly. Warm beer loses its carbonation quickly, making it taste flat. The fizz in a cold beer enhances the drinking experience, adding a refreshing burst with each sip.

Carbon dioxide, the gas that carbonates beer, dissolves better in cold liquids. This means that cold beer holds onto its bubbles longer. The bubbles carry the beer’s aromas to your nose, enhancing the overall flavor. A well-carbonated, cold beer can be a delight to the senses.

Let’s face it: a cold beer is refreshing. There’s nothing like a cold drink to quench your thirst on a hot day. The coldness itself is a big part of why beer tastes better chilled. It cools you down and feels satisfying to drink. This is not just psychological; the cold temperature actually refreshes your body.

When you’re hot, your body craves something cool. A cold beer meets this need perfectly. The cooling sensation enhances the pleasure of drinking it. This refreshing quality is why beers like lagers, which are meant to be drunk cold, are so popular in hot climates.

Flavor Suppression and Enhancement

Different beers taste best at different temperatures. Light beers like lagers and pilsners taste best very cold. The cold temperature suppresses any off-flavors and enhances the beer’s crispness. This makes the beer taste cleaner and more refreshing.

Darker beers like stouts and porters can be enjoyed at warmer temperatures. These beers have complex flavors that come out better when they’re not too cold. Serving them slightly warmer allows the flavors to open up. However, even these beers can taste unpleasant if they get too warm.

The Psychological Element of How Beer Tastes

There’s also a psychological aspect to consider. People associate cold beer with relaxation and pleasure. Advertisements often show people enjoying an ice-cold beer in a fun setting. This creates a strong mental link between cold beer and enjoyment. So, when you drink a cold beer, your brain is already primed to enjoy it more.

This psychological factor can influence your taste perception. You might genuinely think cold beer tastes better because of the positive associations you have with it. It’s a classic case of expectation affecting experience.

Practical Tips for the Best Beer Taste

To enjoy beer at its best, follow these practical tips:

  1. Store Beer Properly: Keep beer in the fridge, ideally between 35-40°F (1.6-4.4°C). This keeps it cold without freezing it.
  2. Use a Frosty Glass: Serve beer in a chilled glass. This helps maintain the cold temperature longer.
  3. Know Your Beer: Different beers have different ideal temperatures. Lagers and pilsners taste best very cold. Ales and stouts can be served slightly warmer.

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Source: “Scientists Explain Why Beer Tastes Better Cold” – Food & Wine

WTF Fun Fact 13160 – The Niels Bohr Beer Supply

After winning the Nobel Prize, Danish physicist Niels Bohr received a lifetime supply of kegs, bottles, and crates of beer from Carlsberg Brewery from 1932 until his death in 1962.

Niels Bohr Beer Supply (and the myth of the pipes)

You may have actually heard something about Niels Bohr’s beer prize. But that’s likely because you’ve heard an oft-repeated myth that the beer company had the beer piped right into his house.

For some reason, enough of us don’t know enough about pipes to realize that such a story would be both gross and impossible. But it’s ok – most of us aren’t plumbers.

So, first, let’s do away with the myth that Bohr had some magic beer sink or tap right inside his home. That would be cool, but it’s not true.

Instead, the physicist (who worked on the Manhattan Project) was gifted the beer in the form of bottles and kegs. We’re guessing he was also treated to a pint wherever he went. People were pretty excited about his Nobel Prize. And at the time they were both horrified and grateful for the Manhattan Project’s development of the atomic bomb.

Beer prize

Dr. Christian Joas, the director of the Niels Bohr Archives confirmed that “…it is true that Niels Bohr received a life annuity from Carlsberg Brewery in the form of kegs, bottles and crates of beer, which were delivered to him from 1932 until his death in 1962.”

The blog Beerena (cited below) has a great account of the myth and the real story.

They note that “the origin of the story of the beer pipeline at Bohr’s house” is likely due in part to chemistry professor and YouTuber Martyn Poliakoff (of the Periodic Videos channel).

“In 2011, he published a video in which he discusses the origin of the element bohrium, named after Niels Bohr, and mentions the urban legend of beer. When asked where he got it from, he replied that he believed he had read it in Richard Rhodes ’book Creating an Atomic Bomb.”

Trust us, there’s no such story in the book. But the book is long and full of detail, so we can see why he might assume the anecdote originated there. Sadly, that leaves us without the origin of the story. But it hardly matters – these types of things often spiral out of control. It’s interesting enough that Bohr had a beer connection to Carlsberg, we don’t really need to believe he had an underground beer pipe installed in his home.  WTF fun facts

Source: “The Myth of Niels Bohr’s Beer Pipeline” — Beerena

WTF Fun Fact 12904 – The Popularity of Guinness in Nigeria

If you go to Lagos, Nigeria, you’re just as likely to hear about how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness beer as you are in Ireland. In Nigeria and throughout the African continent, Guinness is one of the most popular beers around.

Guinness in Africa

According to Smithsonian Magazine (cited below): “The dark brew makes up about 45 percent of beer sold by Diageo, the company that owns Guinness, on the continent, and Diageo is one of four companies that split about 90 percent of the African beer market. Popularity varies from country to country, and Guinness is a particular favorite in Nigeria.”

In the US and UK, we tend to get a slightly different type of Guinness depending on whether we have it on draught or in a bottle. But the Foreign Extra Stout in Nigeria is the Foreign Extra Stout, which has the same formula as the beer the British colonies got in the 18th century.

And there’s definitely something special about it for fans in African since the continent (which is, admittedly, enormous and diverse) now rivals the UK in stout consumption.

“In 2007, Africa surpassed Ireland as the second largest market for Guinness worldwide, behind the United Kingdom, and sales have only climbed since then (by about 13 percent each year),” according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Guinness in Nigeria

In 1803, Arthur Guinness II inherited the brewery from his father and began exporting the beer to England. But after that, the British colonies were the next obvious place to export the beer. First, Guinness’ “West Indies Porter” went to Barbados and Trinidad. Then, it became known as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and arrived in Sierra Leone in 1827.

While the beer went to soldiers of the British Empire, breweries were eventually built on the continent itself in order to bottle beer for Africans. Even as colonies gained their freedom, the beer remained. And when Nigeria won its independence in 1960, Lagos (the capital) got the first long-term Guinness brewery outside of Ireland. Now, 13 breweries produce Guinness in Africa.

Smithsonian notes: “In his book Guinness: The 250 Year Quest for the Perfect Pint, historian Bill Yenne discussed the popularity of Guinness abroad with brewmaster Fergal Murray, who worked at the Guinness brewery in Nigeria in the 1980s. ‘I’ve talked to Nigerians who think of Guinness as their national beer,’ Murray recalled. ‘They wonder why Guinness is sold in Ireland. You can talk to Nigerians in Lagos who will tell you as many stories about their perfect pint as an Irishman will. They’ll tell about how they’ve had the perfect bottle of foreign extra stout at a particular bar on their way home from work.'”

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Source: “How Guinness Became an African Favorite” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 12397 – Beer Mustache

Men with mustaches and beards are losing an estimated 162,719 pints of beer in their facial hair every year, according to Guinness.

The brewery commissioned a scientific study and researchers found that quite a bit of beer was being wasted each year in the UK (and presumably around the world) – about £4.58 a year, they estimate. It has been humorously titled the “mustache tax.”

There are an estimated 92,370 drinkers with facial hair in the UK. Those men drink an average of 180 pints each a year. That makes the total cost of wasted suds around £423,070, or around $572K in US dollars.

According to The Guardian, “As the data was based on the average mustache surface area. Scientists were able to work out the amount of wastage depending on size, shape, and density.” – WTF Fun Facts

Source: Hairy topers ‘wasting Guinness’? — The Guardian