DRAFT PICKS: Beer—The myths and the legends

There are a lot of myths about beer and beer drinking — some of them, for whatever odd reason, promoted by beer drinkers themselves.

It’s too bad there is so much silliness reported when it comes to beer.

All kinds of stuff.

Let’s take a look as some of the tall tales and try to put a few of these myths to rest.

You can lose weight drinking light (lite) beer.

I suppose this could be true ... but not really. Look, lite beer IS lower in calories, but not significantly so.

According to the Calorie Counter website Bud Lite has 110 calories while Miller Lite has 96 calories.

Fine. But Bud Light and Miller Lite are two of the most “standard” and exceptionally bland and neutral beers in the country. (A point of opinion only!)

Consider if you will Leinenkugel Creamy Dark - one of the smoothest, most velvety, and most full-bodied ales produced in the country. Creamy Dark has only 170 calories for a 12 ounce serving.

The difference is 60 calories.

I would rather have a quality product  than worry about 60 calories - any day of the week. The fact is, because lite beer is promoted as a way to drink but not get fat, folks tend to drink much more of it at a sitting. It is used as an excuse to get away with drinking way too much cheap beer.

If you drink one Foster’s (146 calories), or Blue Moon, (171 calories) you are still better off than the guy who drinks two Bud Lites (220 total calories).

Simple math.

The same “buy lite beer in order to drink more of it” argument is used by those who buy lo-cal cookies in order to cut caloric intake, and then eat a pound of them. It just makes no sense.

My opinion?

Drink good, not lots.

Buy quality, not quantity.

A good brew is worth the money.

Keep the lite beer around to give guests who don’t know the difference. (Sorry.) 

Drink quality beer in moderation, and with an eye to enjoying the experience. Then there won’t be too much of a weight gain issue in the first place.

Dark beers tend to have more “muscle” than light-colored beers.

Categorically untrue.

Look, folks. The color of a beer or ale has no influence whatsoever on the alcohol content of the same.

Nor, in fact, does the alcohol influence the color. Dark beers are dark because of the ingredients and the process.

Light-colored beers are the same.

The color might or could be an indicator of taste. (Often, but not always, the darker offerings will be more malty than lighter colored brews. Again ...not always.)

But, once again, color will never be a indicator of alcoholic strength.

American beer is weaker than European beer.

Not true. 

Sometimes true.

Not always. It depends on the beer.

You can’t just say European beers are stronger. That is a pretty broad sweeping statement.

One thing is for sure, the U.S. standard for measuring alcohol content is Alcohol By Weight (ABW) while the European (and Canadian) standard is Alcohol By Volume (ABV) there is a numeric difference. For example, 4 percent ABW equals 5 percent ABV, so this may lead to some misunderstandings although the actual alcohol content in this example is exactly the same.

Beer in green bottles is higher quality

Not true at all.

The best way to keep beer a little longer is in brown glass bottles. It keeps the most light out, and light is the second greatest enemy of beer (after air).

It is true that many brewers in Europe use green bottles, but just because a beer comes from Europe does not mean it is better than that produced in the U.S.

Brown bottled beer will last longer on the shelf than green bottled beer.

Simple fact of life.

There are a lot more myths we will try to deal with in the future. In the meantime, let’s try a couple new beers.

Blanche de Chambly Unibroue Chambly Quebec, Canada

God bless our neighbors to the north! In times of beer drought in this nation, they came through with good stuff ... and continue to do so.

Blanche de Chambly pours energetically creating a substantial, foamy head with a big presence but a short life. It’s fluffy. Then it is gone.

Beautiful, beautiful rich honey color. Gold and glowing.

This is not a clear brew, but it is certainly bright nevertheless. 

Rich and mildly sweet in scent. Almost fruity with defined hops but hinting of a light fruits. Pear? Peach? Just a touch, whatever the case.

Blanche is all there. Inviting with a very refreshing smell.

Definitely mild. Sweet, but not overly so. Fruity, but not demonstratively so.

There’s a little breadiness in the background. Very well balanced so as to appeal to both traditional lager lovers and those “explorers” in the crowd.

The first couple sips are simply fun.

This is a wet beer. Nothing dry or flat about it.

Those looking for something new, but less “threatening” will really appreciate this one.

Blanche is almost a spritzy brew.

Put up the awning or sun umbrella, slap on some sunscreen and settle in for a quiet afternoon with this bouncy beverage. Wonderful contrast to cream crackers (which are pretty neutral) and a sharp cheese.

Send me an invitation!

Oatmeal Stout — Dark Breckenridge Brewery Denver

This was recommended by a friend.

Thank goodness for friends like these!

Breckenridge’s offering in the oatmeal stout “market” is a beautiful deep brown - virtually black - with a warm, embracing thick brown head that lasts a good while before slowly fading away (leaving a hint of dark creme).

This is a HUGE malty brew with a wonderful first nose. The deep, delicious smell stays from start to finish. Thank goodness.

You know you’re in for a treat. There’s no fooling around with this stout. It announces a rich grain list lovingly malted.

There are hefty caramel scents, hints of quality chocolate, and defined tones of coffee ... even espresso.

There may be some back-notes of dark fruit, but don’t spend too much time trying to hunt them down. Plums, maybe? Hmmmmmm ...

Whatever you may find, this comes back to being a pretty straight-up malt drink with an almost velvety blend of the best of ingredients.

I love smelling this stuff!

That in itself is an experience — a lesson in hunting down the goodness tucked away in a well-designed brew.

First sip is surprisingly tart compared to expectations created by the scent. The sweetness then makes itself known, but the coffee and roasting tones are dominant.

The taste is assertive and bold - expressive in a most extroverted manner. Warming. Deceptive to a degree.

When the Breckenridge oatmeal stout settles down and you sort things out, there is a pleasant lingering quality to the intense blend.

This is quite a fun trip. (Don’t let a mild coppery tone turn you off at first wash.) There is more to this brew than you may think.

A fun stout. Far less cloying than many in this class.

This oatmeal stout should be downed at a little cooler temperature than you might a brown ale. Just a touch cooler to bring out the background flavors.

This isn’t one you’d drink with a meal. It’s actually not a brew I’d sip with dessert either.

It is superb served in a good schooner or sniffter simply holding its own.

Thank goodness for good friends.

This was a fine recommendation that will be enthusiastically passed on.