“Beer is beautiful. It’s also capable of far more than most people realise,” notes Ben Robinson, author of Beer Hacks: 100 Tips, Tricks and Projects, which even comes with an emergency bottle opener on the front cover.
With suggestions for storage, how to introduce beer to your household chore list, not to mention enhancing your grooming regime, we’ve teamed up with Robinson to share some top beer facts and tips on how to be a smarter hop head.
Top beer facts and tips
1. Three timeless Oktoberfest beer-consumption rules
Rule 1: Only, only, only drink beers out of 1-litre steins.
Rule 2: Hoist those steins to cheers – although instead you’ll ebulliently say “Prost!” – often aggressively. The steins will not break, as they are designed for exactly such jovial work.
Rule 3: Realise that Oktoberfest actually begins in September.
2. How to keep your beers cold when you don’t have a fridge (but do have ice)
You need: A 12-pack of bottled beer with the box intact, a plastic bin bag, and ice.
First, yank out all the beer and also (if they’re in there) those little cardboard divider thingies that keep your beers from crashing into each other inside the case. Then layer the garbage bag inside the case and replace those little cardboard divider thingies.
Now put your beers back in, then dump as much of the ice as will possibly fit, and voilà: You just made a fridge, a limited mess, and a real impact on your afternoon.
3. Never use frozen glassware
You should never be freezing your glasses. First off, ice crystals cause beers to immediately foam over, leaving you with a lot of waste and an instantly flat beer. Second, the crystals will dilute the beer, which was intended to taste great just as it is, without being watered down.
And finally, when those same ice crystals form, they absorb the odour and taste of the freezer they’re in, and guess what; nobody cleans their freezer. Including you. Besides, they make your beer too cold to actually taste.
4. How to store your beer, smartly
Beer cans and bottles should always be stored upright. Think about it. “It” being a beer bottle standing up. How much beer is touching the air-filled non-beer area? Only as much as the neck is wide, so not very much at all. Then think about a beer bottle lying on its side. Well, now there’s all sorts of contact with that air – the affected section runs down the length of the entire bottle.
Prolonged exposure to said evil O2 causes the alcohol and flavour compounds within your beer to react badly, creating a stale taste that will only get worse and worse as that exposure continues.
5. Clean things with it
So long as your eternal partner was kind enough to slip a solid gold or gold-plated ring onto your finger before you headed off to the reception to drink a ton of beer, you can return it to its initial shine with a little bit of light beer and a soft cloth. Just get the cloth slightly wet with the brew, then buff, buff, buff, before wiping things down with a different, beer-free cloth.
6. Rinse your hair with the stuff
You do not want to WASH your hair with beer. That’s still the job of shampoo. But once you’ve washed, pouring a glass or so of flat beer into your mane and working it around can do all sorts of stuff.
While everyone’s hair is different, reduced greasiness, added lustre, and general controllability are some of the benefits of beer-hair.
7. How to pour a perfect pint of Guinness
Many will tell you that the best Guinness can only come from a tap, but you can also find Ireland’s most iconic alcoholic export in bottles and cans – which is very helpful if you don’t, you know, own a bar. But the proper pouring technique is the basically same for all of them.
Step 1: Grab yourself a clean, room-temp pint glass. PLEASE avoid the standard shaker variety that you’ll see everywhere, and instead opt for a glass that curves and flares out as it goes up, or, if you’re really doing it right, has one of those fun little bubbles that pop out about three quarters of the way up.
Step 2: Tilt your glass at a 45-degree angle, and begin pouring nice and slowly until the glass is about three quarters full. Then stop.
Step 3: Good Guinness things come to those who wait. So do that. And then, wait some more. The “settle” is the quirkiest but also most important of a Guinness pour to get the proper flavor.
Step 4: Once you can see a clear line between beer and creamy head, get back to pouring – this time, with the glass on the table at no angle. Keep filling until the head peeks just over the top of the glass, then stop.
Step 5: Wait again. Seriously. I’m sorry. When everything settles once more, and you see that really clear beer-head border, you can cease being annoyed by me, and sip your perfect pint.
8. Brewery tours often mean free beer
Yes, it’s great to get walked through a brewery by someone who’s devoted their life to making you a beverage you love, and get all the equipment and process explained. Knowledge! But often, at the end they’ll reward your interest with a tasting flight of their wares – to, um, complete that education.
9. Set beer-based traps for slugs
Slugs love beer even more than they love carving holes through your rutabaga. And if you rig a beer-based trap correctly, the slugs will fall in and be unable to slink their way out.
Step 1: Grab a sturdy plastic cup and dig a hole in your garden that can accommodate its circumference.
Step 2: Place the cup into the hole but NOT all the way down – you want the rim of the cup to be an inch or so above the soil.
Step 3: Fill it three-quarters of the way up with light beer.
Step 4: Watch slugs get interested in the beer, slime their way up the side of the cup, have a few sips of the beer, and then fall in, never to slug around again.