Drink + Dine

Don’t Judge a Beer by its Color

March 17, 2015

By The Beer Chicks (Christina Perozzi & Hallie Beaune)

As beer sommeliers, we often run into myths and misconceptions about our favorite beverage. Misconceptions like, “Dark beers are too strong,” or “I don’t drink stouts, they’re like a meal.” We’ll call this “Beer Myth #1”—the idea that beer that is dark in color is bitter and heavy.

This misconception stems from the fact that Americans are used to one style of beer which is usually pretty light in color and alcohol, very light in flavor, and has little in the way of aromatics. Because these beers make up more than 80% of the market, we wrongly associate a light color with other “light” attributes. Today—just in time for St. Patrick’s Day—we dispel Beer Myth #1 through a few facts below:

  • A beer’s color has nothing to do with the strength, alcohol content, bitterness or “heaviness” of that beer.
  • A beer’s color comes from the malt (grains) used in that beer, typically roasted barley.
  • Barley can be roasted lightly to a pale malt color, a little longer for a caramel color, or even longer for a deep dark chocolate color.
  • Hops are the ingredient in beer responsible for its bitterness—yet they have no visible characteristic.
  • The alcohol content of a beer is determined by the AMOUNT of malt used in beer-making, not the color.
  • The alcohol content of a beer is what determines the “heaviness,” or the weight of a beer—again not the color.

In short, ordering a beer by its color is like judging a book by its cover. Instead, order a beer by what you feel like tasting. You don’t even have to worry about using the correct “beer jargon.” Just use flavor descriptors like: nutty, crisp, lemony, bitter, or sweet—whatever you’re into. This way you’ll get the beer you actually want and like, and isn’t that the goal in one’s beer-life?

Ok, all together now:  I WILL NEVER JUDGE A BEER BY ITS COLOR.

There, we feel much better, don’t you?


Now that you’ve got the basics down, join us in South Beach this Thursday, March 19 for Buck’s Beer Garden in the backyard Oasis of The Raleigh Miami Beach. Expect a bonfire, local craft brews, lawn games, delicious food and more!

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