What I Learned from A-B InBev (in a Good Way!)

I spent much of last week in Las Vegas, sampling local beers, visiting beer destinations and other places on the Strip, wandering the aisles of the Nightclub and Bar Show, and finally speaking at the VIBE Conference.

But I didn’t just pontificate at VIBE, I also attended a very interesting seminar of draught beer technology presented by Cian Hickey of Anheuser-Busch InBev. My takeaway from that particular session had little to do with what comes out of the taps, though, and much more to do with how beer behaves in the bottle. Allow me to elaborate.

As a beer educator and aficionado, I am regularly encouraging people to drink from glassware rather than from the bottle or can, usually supporting my position by explaining the role of aroma and appearance in taste. Silly me! Hickey and his A-B InBev co-presenters did a much better job illustrating the superiority of a glass by engaging the audience in one simple little experiment.

Using the premise that it takes about six swallows to drain the beer from a 12 ounce bottle, the A-B crew gave us each a bottle of beer and two cups, inviting us to fill one of the cups with about six or so ounces of beer. We then sampled the beer in its freshest and most drinker-friendly state before replicating the effect of drinking from the bottle by passing the beer between the two cups six times. (The idea being that each time the bottle 0r can is hoisted to the drinker’s lips the beer is re-agitated, perhaps not quite as aggressively as if it were poured from one container to another, but surely a near approximation.) After the sixth transfer, we tasted the beer again, to find that it was now fairly flat and, frankly, kind of gross. Were we drinking from the bottle, that would have been our final impression of the beer’s flavour.

The beauty of this experiment, aside of course from how wonderfully it demonstrates the superiority of drinking from a glass over a bottle or can, is that it can be repeated with any sort of beer at any time. Try it, and I bet you’ll think twice before you drink straight from the bottle again.



6 Replies to “What I Learned from A-B InBev (in a Good Way!)”

  1. When drinking from a glass you are still agitating the beer 6 times before finish. Yes, the effect is magnified in a bottle, but that’s because people just whip that sucker around. There’s nothing to say we can’t tip back a bottle as gently as we do a glass. And yes, if you’re home you could pour half glasses, but that last 2 ounces will have been agitated 5 times because the bottle was poured twice and then the glass drank from 3 times.

    1. True enough, Colin, but as you say, the effect in a bottle will generally be much greater, not just from the way people whip it around, I would suggest, but also because of the nature of the vessel. Liquid dropping from a thin tube back into a larger tube is always going to be agitated more than will liquid sliding back down the side of a glass. Try it with the same beer side by side in glass and bottle and watch how much foam forms when drinking normally.

  2. While this is indeed an interesting point, when I drink cask beer, I prefer that it remains flat. But, drinking out of a glass is definitely more convenient than drinking out of a cask.

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