For many of us, it is a difficult notion to grasp that a large percentage of the population actually does not like the taste of beer. As a beer lover and a brewer I found this very hard to believe, but having owned a brewpub I can attest that it is indeed true. Many people would come into the pub with their beer-loving friends and struggle to find something to enjoy. As a result, I started to be on the lookout for how to make beer taste better for them also, so everyone enjoyed their time at the pub.
The following is a collection of methods I have come across over the years to help you manipulate the flavor of your beer and create a taste more to your liking.
These tips are not just for people who do not like the taste of beer, but also for craft beer fans who from time to time have to struggle through a commercial beer as well as commercial beer fans that find themselves struggling to enjoy the more robust flavors of craft beer.
Table of Contents
Quick Tips to Make Beer Taste Better
Drink it Out of a Glass – Although a can or a bottle can be convenient ways of transporting beer they do not do the beer any justice when it comes to taste. Your sensations of smell and taste are actually closely connected, part of what you perceive as taste is actually from the aroma. When you drink from a bottle or a can you are suppressing your sense of smell and as a result, altering the taste of the beer.
Drinking out a glass will significantly enhance the beer’s aroma characteristics and perceived taste. When you pour it into a glass the carbonation is activated, resulting in the formation of the foamy head and carbonation bubbles. The head provides a nice creamy-like texture and the carbonation bubbles release its aroma qualities.
Pour it Properly – The way you pour your beer will ensure the effects of the carbonation and foamy head are presented effectively. First, rinse your glass out with cold water. Tilt your glass on a 45-degree angle. Aim to pour the beer approximately halfway down the side of the glass.
As the beer reaches the halfway mark of the glass, begin to slowly tilt your glass back up straight. The pour should finish with a nice head at the top, the size of the head will depend on the style of beer you are pouring.
Use the Correct Glass – As we talked about, your sense of smell has a large impact on what you perceive as taste. Certain beer styles were traditionally served out of specific shaped beer glasses for this exact reason.
The style of your glass can significantly enhance the aroma and appearance of your beer, which will have a direct correlation to how you perceive the beer tasting. To find out which glass you should use for each style of beer check out this post.
Drink it Warm – Another fact that surprises many people is that many beers are in fact supposed to be consumed warm and in many places around the world that is how they are served. This is because when you drink a beer cold it has a somewhat numbing effect on your taste buds which suppresses its flavors. A warmer beer allows you to experience the full effect of the beer’s flavors and aromas.
Drink it Really Cold – Although this tip is the polar opposite of the last tip, it was meant for good craft beer. This tip is if you are drinking the commercially mass-produced beer that has dominated the North American beer market since WWII. These beers are nowhere near as complex nor do they have anywhere near the flavor or aroma characteristics of craft beer. Which means they really can taste quite bad.
The companies that manufacture them know this and as a result it is why in their advertisements they are promoting that you drink their product ice cold, they know it improves its taste. When in fact what it is doing is numbing your taste buds and allowing the beer to go down smoothly. And it works. Pop one of these beers in the freezer for 10 minutes or put them in a bucket of ice and you will find the taste does improve significantly.
What to Mix with Beer to Make It Taste Better
Another option to improve the taste of your beer is to try mixing it with various mixes and creating a variety of different concoctions…
Citrus Fruit – There are numerous options when it comes to mixing citrus fruits and beer to include limes, lemons, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit juice, etc. You can either garnish the side of the beer with your favorite citrus fruit or cut one in half and squeeze the juice into your beer or simply mix it with a juice of your choosing and create something like a Radler.
You can make your own homemade Radlers by mixing orange and/or grapefruit juice into your beer. Start out 3 part beer 1 part juice and adjust from there.
Frozen Berries – You might have seen people adding frozen berries to their wine to improve it, well this also works great for many styles of beer as well. It not only keeps your beer colder longer, but it imparts flavor to the beer as the fruit’s cell walls break down. Many people who make their own beer will add fruit directly into their recipe to improve the taste.
Tomato Juice – Although at first glance it may seem strange to mix tomato juice with beer, it is actually quite delicious and in many places around the world, it is very popular. Some claim it is a great remedy to cure a hangover, while others enjoy it the evening before. I recommend you mix it 1 part tomato juice to 3 parts beer.
Cocktail Bitters – Bitters are flavored liquids that come in small bottles with droppers. They come in many different flavors and are typically used to enhance the flavors of some liquor drinks, however, they can add a pleasant complexity to most beers also. The key is to start slowly with the bitters as there is a lot of taste packed in just a drop of them. You can adjust the ratio to your liking. Use lighter bitters on lighter beers and darker bitters on darker beers.
Creamer – Similar to what a creamer does to a cup of coffee, you can try adding it to darker beers. It will lighten up the bitter flavor and produce a creamier mouthfeel; stouts and porters are good options to try this with. Some people even add Bailey’s Irish cream to their beers, again do so only to darker beers and be prepared as it will pack a bigger punch due to the additional alcohol content.
Beer Salts – Adding salt to your beer to improve the taste is an old trick that has been around for years. It is reported to reduce the bitterness in some beers and even enhance the taste of others. Cheap draft beer served at pubs is a great candidate for having some salt sprinkled into it, you will immediately notice the carbonation level pick up. Other options are to rim the edge of your beer glass with it and to even mix it with lime.
How to Make Beer Taste Sweet
Some people simply find that beer is too bitter and not sweet enough. The following are things that can be added to your beer to make it taste better by giving it a sweeter taste…
Apple Juice – If you are looking to sweeten up your beer a little mixing apple juice will do the trick. This is actually a take on a beverage that has been around for years called a shandy. A shandy is beer mixed with any other sweet beverage. Sometimes you will see it mixed with lemonade, ginger ale, sprite, and even mountain dew. It is typically mixed with one part beer and one part sweet beverage.
Simple Syrup – Simple syrup is basically just sugar and water and is a simple and quick way to reduce the bitterness and make your beer sweeter. If you like a sweet-tasting beverage you will find that adding just a little bit will make your beer taste better. Other syrup options you can try are maple syrup and even molasses.
Sugar – Just a spoonful of sugar does more than help the medicine go down, it helps the beer go down for people who find it too bitter. Try half a teaspoon first of either plain white sugar or brown sugar. Adjust by adding more per your liking.
Soda – We have already discussed making a shandy by adding light-colored soda to your lighter beers; however in many places in the world darker-colored soda is also added to beer, typically darker beers, and wheat beers. Adding soda increases the sweetness of the beer, keeps the carbonation level high, and will also provide a blast of caffeine depending on the soda used.
Margarita Mix – Adding margarita mix is a popular beer sweetening technique, it adds significant sweetness plus a citrus taste which significantly masks the bitter taste of beer. The standard mixture is one part beer and one part margarita mix. Another option is adding a beer to an actual margarita, this is a beer cocktail that really packs a punch and is delicious on a hot summer day, many people refer to this drink as a bulldog.
What Alcohol Can You Mix with Beer
We just discussed what a bulldog is and there are all sorts of different beer cocktail recipes you can try, the following are some of the more popular alcohols that can be added to your beer to make it taste better…
Champagne – A much-beloved beer cocktail is a black velvet. It is a mixture of 1 part champagne and 1 part Dry Irish stout like Guinness. It is served in a champagne flute. Pour the champagne first and slowly add the stout.
Liqueurs – Are a quick and easy way to mix some alcohol in with your beer to alter and improve its taste. Some of the more popular liqueurs people mix with beer are triple sec, vermouth, Kahlua, and amaretto.
Liquor – You have heard me make mention of beer cocktails and I have also provided you with examples of a couple (Bulldog & Black Velvet), but they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless delicious concoctions that mix beer and liquor these days. A general rule of thumb is that lighter beers go well with your summertime refreshing mixed drinks and darker beers with your more refined sipping drinks.
Campari – This is an Italian alcoholic liqueur that has a red hue to it and is highlighted by a bitter orange taste. It is a much-used ingredient in many cocktails and it just also happens to go very well with beer. You can use any style of beer with Campari, it will even improve the taste of a cheap commercial beer. Add just a drop of it to a glass of beer and a slice of lime for a refreshing summer drink.
Add a Different Beer – Beer on beer drinks are delicious and there are many different variations you can try.
Some of my favorites are:
- The Snakebite is traditionally lager and apple cider mixed equally.
- A Blacksmith is half red ale (poured first) and half stout.
- A Dark & Tan is half lager or blonde ale (poured first) and half stout.
When mixing beers you are looking to do so with two different styles: think something lighter combined with something darker or more pronounced. A quick example off the top of my head would be a Kolsch mixed with a double IPA. The Kolsch would tame the extreme hoppiness of the DIPA and make for an enjoyable drink.
How to Make Non Alcoholic Beer Taste Better
When it comes to making a non alcoholic beer taste better everything we covered in this post would apply, except for the ideas that have alcohol in them if you are attempting to restrain from the same. Although I have been surprised at how decent tasting some newer non-alcoholic beers I have tried recently were until now they have been notorious for having a not-so-great taste to them. Adding a little flavor to them does go a long way to make them taste much better.
I will admit that for some beer is an acquired taste, as are most alcoholic beverages. However, once you acquire the taste for it you will come to appreciate all of its complex and delicious characteristics. Starting out by mixing it as we have discussed in this post is a great way to make it taste better and slowly start to acquire the taste.
The following is a post you also might enjoy: 17 tips on how to like beer.
Let us know in the comments what things you do to your beer to make it taste better?
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!
P.S. If you presently are making your own beer or are thinking about doing so be sure to take advantage of getting your hands on the recipes to my top 5 best selling beers from my brewpub. The sign-up is on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you’re on your smart device. Enjoy!