For those not familiar with the format, each show puts a number of movie or popular culture myths to the scientific test. They then declare a myth Confirmed (“it is easy to shoot fish in a barrel”), Plausible (“elephants are afraid of mice”) or Busted (“a coin dropped from a tall building can kill a person”). Virtually every episode ends with them blowing something up in the name of science.

People often have some pretty strong pre-conceptions about beer and this comes across at beer tasting events or in discussions over the bar. In this post, I look to replicate the sterling work of Adam, Jamie, Kari, Tory and Grant by examining a few beer myths. I have started in true Mythbusters’ fashion by putting on my geekiest t-shirt. **

Beer is best served ice-cold – Very cold temperatures inhibit both the aroma and the taste of a beer. For some bland or even unpleasant beers, this might be an advantage. *** For craft beers, it is almost never a good idea. Verdict: Busted

Only mid-strength beers will be served at Rugby World Cup venues – A number of sports stadiums around the world already have this policy. However, DB confirmed to me today that the beers available at RWC events will be Heineken (full-strength) and Amstel Light. Verdict: Busted

Carlsberg is possibly the best beer in the world – This tagline was created by Saatchi and Saatchi in 1973. It relies very heavily on the word “possibly” as the official basis for the claim are awards at the World Trade Exhibitions in 1873, 1878 and 1889. **** Verdict: Busted

Beer creates beer bellies – Beer contains calories and carbohydrates so can obviously have an effect on weight. However, diet, other drinks and exercise patterns will also have significant impacts. Beer is only a potential contributing factor as evidenced by beer drinkers and brewers who can range from scarily thin to generously proportioned. Verdict: Plausible

Beer should not be bitter – I could not find any reference to anyone reputable arguing this but a number of people believe it anyway. Obviously, some beers should be sweeter than others but bitterness has a very, very important role to play in most styles. Verdict: Busted

Corona may contain urine – In the 1980s, a rumour circulated that workers at the Corona brewery were relieving themselves into the beer. On the basis of flavour, this would appear plausible at first glance. However, it turns out it was all just a rumour started by a rival distributor who admitted as much during a court case. Verdict: Busted

Tui is an East India Pale Ale – Once, perhaps but not for a long time. It is a lager, usually considered in the New Zealand Draught style. It is not alone in such claims – Speight’s Gold Medal Ale is similarly a lager. Breweries are not currently obliged to put accurate style descriptions on their products. Verdict: Busted

American beers are weak – There are two basic assumptions behind this myth. One is that many popular US brews are called “Lite”. New Zealanders associate that with low-alcohol but it actually means full-strength with lower calories. Historically, we also saw references to American beer with a strength of 3.5 or 4. For a long time, American beers were measured using alcohol by weight rather than alcohol by volume as we do. Once the Americans adopted the same system, beer in each country averages around 5%. Verdict: Busted

I really hesitated about including this last one.

Fruit beers are girly beers – I want to make it quite clear that I’m reporting this myth from a “That’s the Spirit” article. They rebut the myth by arguing that beer was flavoured with fruit for thousands of years, that King Tut was proved to have drunk fruit beers and “he was one dude you could hardly consider girly.” With 5,000 years of fruit drinkers to choose from (according to this logic) I am not sure I would consider an 18-year old who was born out of incest as the epitome of manliness for the purposes of this argument. Why not Richard the Lionheart instead? Verdict: Busted *****

That list is just scratching the surface so I may do another one later in the year. The old song was right – busting really does make you feel good. If gentle readers have any myths they would like tested, send them in care of the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor Colin on

Malthouse March Madness is well underway with regular specials each day including Pints for Pets (Monday), Pizza and Beer (Tuesday), Grape Value (Thursday), free buffet (Friday), Imperial Weekends and Tuatara Flagon Fill Weekends.

Every Wednesday sees an event with Beer Club tonight, then Whisky and Haggis (pretty much sold out), Ask the Brewer (details next week) and Beer 101 on March 30. Beer 101 is very much an introductory event designed for people who are becoming interested in craft beer. It involves history, stories, tales and beer tastings. A limited number of tickets are still available.

Finally, congratulations to everyone involved in the charity beer events for Christchurch which were held around the country on Friday. The Wellington event raised over $6,000 for earthquake relief. A fantastic effort from all concerned.

* It is equally odd that I have no real interest in cars, have never owned one, haven’t driven in three years but still adore Top Gear.
** “Family Guy: Blue Harvest”. Cartoons + Star Wars = Geeky.
*** Refer to: Weiser, Bud.
**** Only 25,572 medals were issued at the 1873 event.
***** Busted with hints of plausibility.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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