Everyone knows that beer makes you burp. And not to sound like an infomercial here, but… what if I told you there was a better way? See, beer doesn’t necessarily have to cause bloat like you just chugged a can of Coke. As it turns out, it’s all in how you drink it!
With the help of Master Cicerone Max Bakker, an educator for Anheuser-Busch’s The High End, allow us to explain why beer makes you burp -- and more importantly, how to stop your favorite beverage from making you feel like you’re going to float away.
Carbonation is the key to understanding
Beer is a special beverage. Not only because it makes talking to your relatives over the holidays about 75% easier -- but because it contains carbon dioxide (i.e. bubbles!). The level of CO2 in the beer you’re drinking differs based on the style. For example, Belgian and German ales are generally more effervescent than American craft beers, which contributes to their mouthfeel, the tactile sensation of a beer when sipped. (Other factors contributing to mouthfeel include body, creaminess, alcohol, and temperature.)
But a beer’s carbonation is also responsible for foam: that delicious layer of brew that can provide a temporary mustache. Beyond making hilarious, impromptu facial hair possible, foam is also critical for properly tasting the beer. “You need foam!” Bakker explains. “Foam is where you taste bitterness and sweetness in the beer, among other things.”
You know when you don’t get foam? When you drink beer straight from a can or bottle. And therein lies the problem.
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The humble pint glass is the answer
Now that you know that CO2 is key to a beer’s taste, you should also probably understand that you want it captured in your mouth -- not in your stomach. If you’re drinking beer from a can or bottle, you’re essentially forgoing the foam and pouring the CO2 directly into your stomach. And when carbonation gets into your stomach, the gas expands, makes you feel full, and often escapes the digestive system through burps.
But when you take a bottle of beer to a glass and “pour with vigor” (a phrase Bakker says was coined by legendary UC Davis brewing expert Dr. Charles Bamforth), the impact of the beer hitting the glass helps release the CO2. Moreover, when extracted from a cold container into a warmer glass, the temperature increase also helps release the CO2. And you know what comes next: a beautiful foam head. Which means you’ve just potentially been spared from a relentless burp sesh.
As Bakker notes, it’s rare to see wine or Champagne drinkers guzzling straight from the bottle, (unless you’re Steve Kerr after having just won an NBA championship), and beer should be given the same respect. So here’s to your next beer: may the experience be free of burps and bloating so you can actually enjoy more than one.