Today’s beer drinkers demand more than the thin, yellow lagers from the giant multi-national breweries. They are better informed and have a more developed palate than ever before, and the craft beer industry has been happy to grow along with the surging ranks of beer fans. However, there are many pervasive myths and misconceptions about every aspect of beer that refuse to go away. Let’s take a look at some of the most heinous falsities and set the record straight on dark beers, proper serving and storage temperature, and the damage done by years of beer advertisements.
Myth: You Can Judge a Beer by Its Color
Some of the most prevalent myths about beer surround dark beers. Beliefs range from dark beers being "heavier," or that they’re higher in alcohol, or that they have more calories, or that dark beers are ales while light beers are lagers. All of those things are false, and the only thing that you can assume when looking at a dark beer is that it was probably made with more dark malts and it might have a more roasted flavor profile than a lighter beer.
There’s no telling how these myths began, but the idea that a dark beer is "heavier" than a light beer, or that dark beers are akin to a "meal in a glass" might be traced back to many people’s first experience with a dark beer: Guinness Draught.
The idea that the heavy body of the stout will fill you up faster and add inches to your waistline — the "liquid bread" effect — is false. Guinness is, ounce-for-ounce, lighter than most other beers! A pint of the Irish ale clocks in at around 170 calories, while a 16-ounce serving of an American lager like Coors or Bud is around 200 calories. The confusion likely comes from the full and silky mouthfeel of the stout. The brewery uses oats in the brewing and nitrogen gas in the packaging of the stout, and both contribute to the rich and creamy impression that the beer leaves on your tongue.
Likewise, a beer’s color has no correlation with its strength; Guinness is also only around 4 percent alcohol-by-volume. Dark lagers can be brewed just as easily as a dark ale; keep an eye out for Uinta’s Baba Black Lager, a traditional German Schwarzbier, or even Guinness’s own Black Lager for examples of lager beers that are light in body but not in color.
— John Verive, Beer of Tomorrow