There are many myths about beer floating around. Some of them may cause you to choose one beer over another for the wrong reasons. Some beer myths may end up costing you money, too. If you want to get the most out of your beer budget, get your facts straight about these three commonly held beer myths.

If cold bottled or canned beer gets warm, it becomes skunked.

I can’t tell you how many times I've had a refrigerator stuffed with leftover beer after a party because it had been on ice. I thought it would become ruined or “skunked” if it came back to room temperature. Not only was I wrong about it getting ruined, I was wrong about what the term "skunked" means.

beer bottles on ice in bucketI asked Tim Kelly, brewmaster at Tun Tavern in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to help me get my facts straight about fluctuating beer temperatures. He told me that it’s not a problem for most beers that have been refrigerated or submerged in ice all day in a party bucket to come back to room temperature. The fluctuation in temperatures for most beers won’t make a difference in the beer’s quality.

Additionally, "skunked" isn’t the right term to use for temperature fluctuations. Skunked is used to describe beer that has been “light struck” and not beer that's gone from cold to warm. Beer that is exposed to UV light undergoes a chemical change that causes it to have an unappealing smell reminiscent of a skunk or wet cardboard. The smell, not the temperature, will tip you off to a skunked beer.

Beer in clear or green bottles is more at risk than beer in brown bottles. Bottled beer that sits openly under florescent lights in a store or even in your home is at risk. Canned beer does not get exposed to light so it does not get skunked.

If you’re throwing away previously cold beer because it came back to room temperature and you think it’s ruined, you’re throwing away your money. It can be chilled again and should be fine to drink. If you’re exposing your bottled beer to sunlight or indoor UV lights, you may be ruining it, and that's where your problems will occur.

Bottled beer is better than canned beer.

Traditionally, bottled beer has been preferred to canned beer for two basic reasons: the belief that bottled beer tastes better than canned beer and the perception that bottled beer is classier.

Beer lovers are starting to realize this just isn't true. When Huffington Post did a blind taste test using four beers that came in both bottles and cans, their tasters preferred the canned beer three out of four times. They only identified the canned beer about half the time, which could be contributed to guessing correctly. Add the possibility that bottled beer can get skunked and canned beer cannot, and the bottled-beer-is-better belief starts to crumble.

The stigma surrounding canned beer is crumbling, too. Craft breweries are embracing cans, and beer lovers are, too.

Traditionally, bottled beer costs more per ounce than canned beer. Why pay extra for beer in bottles if the same exact beer is less expensive in a can? When it comes to craft beer, though, check your prices. The setup for a canning line can be expensive, so smaller breweries that are adding canning lines may not be able to charge less for cans.

The cost to the environment is different when it comes to bottles versus cans, also. According to the Aluminum Association, “aluminum cans are the most sustainable beverage container on virtually every measure.” Consumers recycle 56.7 percent of their aluminum cans. They recycle only 34.1 percent of their glass bottles. Those recycled cans are most often recycled back into aluminum cans, and making an aluminum can from recycled aluminum takes only 8 percent of the energy it takes to produce a new aluminum can.

Beer and fine food don’t pair well.

Many people don’t order beer to go with their meal at a good restaurant; they order wine. Beer is often associated with eating pizza or burgers off the grill but not with fine foods. That association needs to change. Beer complements a surprising number of foods.

Craft Beer has an extensive pairing chart that can help you pair what’s on a restaurant's beer menu with what’s on its entrée menu. These are just a few of the suggestions.

  • Pair roast duck with a doppelbock
  • Pair crab cakes with a hefeweizen
  • Pair salmon with a classic pilsner
If you’re pairing your food with wine instead of beer in a restaurant, it’s definitely going to be more expensive. If you love beer and can learn to pair it with good food, you might see a noticeable difference in your bill at the end of a good meal.


Beer in tub: Nitr/Shutterstock


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

3 beer myths that may be costing you money
Is bottled beer better than canned and what does 'skunked' really mean, anyway?