Want to amaze your friends with some obscure beer factoids the next time you're out drinking? Of course you do. Here's a cheat sheet of beer facts — some random, some scientific, some downright bizarre — that will raise eyebrows around the table and earn you another round.
If you're a beer buff, you probably know at least a few of these, but that doesn't mean your friends will:
1. Almost All Beers Are Made with Just One Grain: Barley is king when it comes to brewing beer. Sure, other grains like wheat and rye have their place in the world of beer, but brewers determined long ago that barley contained the motherload of fermentable sugars and was the easiest to turn into beer. Not for nothing do we call this stuff "barley pop"!
2. Hops Are The New Kids on the Block: These days, brewers wouldn't even think of brewing a beer without hops — the bittering and aromatic qualities of the hops balance out the sweetness of the grains and act as a preservative to extend beer's shelf life. But long before hops came into regular play, brewers used...well, whatever they had around. Gruit is a very old style of beer spiced with gale, yarrow, and wild rosemary. All sorts of herbs and spices, barks, pine needles, fruits, and weeds were used to flavor beers over the centuries until hops swept onto the scene.
3. It Takes About 36 Billion Yeast Cells to Ferment 1 Gallon of Beer: Actually, it takes even more yeast than that — 36 billion yeast cells (multiplied by the number of gallons being brewed) is just what brewers throw in to start fermentation. Next time you tour a brewery and look up at those huge fermentation tanks holding hundreds of gallons of beer, just think about how many billions of yeast cells are living in there!
4. Sometimes Beer Bubbles Downward, and That's OK: Ever pour a beer into a clean pint glass and noticed that the bubbles look like they are actually crawling downwards? This seems to defy physics, but it's actually the result of friction. Bubbles speed through the middle of the glass where there's less friction to slow them down. Once at the top, they push the bubbles already there out of the way — forcing the outer bubbles to move down the side of the glass.
5. Brown Bottles Help Keep Beer Fresh: The fact that beer is bottled in brown bottles is more than just a coincidence. The brown tinted glass protects the beer from exposure to light (specifically ultra-violet light), which can cause chemical reactions within the beer that give it a "skunked" wet cardboard flavor. In other words, brown bottles are like sunglasses for beer.
(Image: Danielle Tsi)