How to Make Beer Taste Better

beer-mug-patentSome drink beer to socialize. To break the ice. To celebrate. Others drink beer to unwind at the end of a long day, as a treat. There are people who drink beer to get into their creative groove. Tackle art projects. Cook up extravagant feasts. For me? All of the above. Or most recently, in my new Seattle home, I drink beer while shimmying around to soul music as I unpack the last of my moving boxes and settle in. I find the ritual brings a lighthearted and fun vibe to what otherwise might be a daunting task.

Not only are we creatures of habit, we are creatures of ritual. Studies published in Psychological Science show that the rituals we perform before eating, or drinking in this case, actually make our food and beverages taste better. Repeated behaviors change our perception, and the “intrinsic interest” that rituals foster—the fact that rituals draw people into what they are doing—leads to positive affects on our eating and drinking experiences. In trying to better understand some common beer rituals, I asked the Beer Advocate community to chime in.

One user shared, “I enjoy drinking imperial stouts outside in cold weather; 25-35 degrees. It’s interesting because you can start with a bomber at cellar temp and taste how it changes as it cools down.” I love the experiential element of this ritual. No doubt one could achieve the same results by chilling beer to varying temps in the fridge, but there’s something about the unconventionality of this tradition that makes it more compelling.

Another Beer Advocate enthusiast claims to take a memory-based approach to his ritual. “Many steins and glasses in my cabinet are from various trips across the world, and often, when enjoying a particular beer that is suited for a specific glass, I thoroughly enjoy reaching for that glass and using the moment as an opportunity to remember some of the good times I had in the past… If you’ve actually visited this or that brewery in Europe, there’s an entirely different experience thereafter when drinking their beer, especially if it is from a glass you carefully brought home from overseas.”

For another beer lover, ritual helps create community. “When I’m drinking a new beer by myself, I like to send a snapchat of the pour to my other Beer Advocate friends. More often than not, I’ll receive one back of the like. It lets us cheers a beer even when those friends may be in other cities or states.” What an excellent example of social media at its best! Personally, I appreciate the ease of Untappd, an app that also allows you to “cheers” your friends, while offering a nifty way to keep track of the beers you’ve tried, and a rating feature that allows you to refer back to the brews you liked or disliked. (If you’re on Untappd too, let’s connect! Find me HERE.)

In all of these cases (and countless others) drinking a beer is so much more than just, well, drinking a beer. The benefits of the rituals exceed the intoxicating results and create memories, learning experiences, community, and ease. Repetition has never tasted so good.

What are your beer-drinking rituals?

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Association for Psychological Science – “To Savor the Flavor, Perform a Short Ritual First”

TIME – “Rituals Make Food (and Drinks) Taste Better”


One thought on “How to Make Beer Taste Better

  1. So, like the changes that take place throughout life, so have been my reasons for imbibing a cool one. When I was 15, having a beer was an act of rebellion. Too young to legally drink, I had to dress maturely and try to buy a six pack from the package store. If successful, I was a hero who got to drink with my friends, though I really didn’t love the beer. It did help with the party spirit and initiating making out. When I went to college, buying really good beer at the Wurst House in Harvard Square was an act of exploration into the world of great beers from around the world and a way to loosen up after a long week of studies. Because these brews were some of the best in the world, cost a bit more, and were stronger, one would do. From this came the curiosity to try new brews with friends as drinking a superior brew became a mission to be rated against others. In my travels, I would bring favorite beers from distances. This ritual then became very social, almost always with friends from far and wide. Mexico, Kenya, Zimbabwe, England, Holland, East and West Germany, Costa Rica became locations for my curiosity, but in these places were always new friends and often lots of laughter and trash talk. Now, in retirement, a good beer is time for intimate conversations with my wife and laid back conversations with my family and friends. As I head further into my life, I wonder whether a beer will become medicinal, political, financial or what. The good news is I still love the adventure of trying new brews and supporting the ones I love, kinda like family and friends.


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