From one of the world's oldest beers to the most alcoholic, from who drinks the most to who missed out for nearly a century, here are six facts about beer that may or may not come in handy at your next trivia night!
Water makes up 90% of beer
Haven’t you always wondered why beer is so thirst-quenching? Well, a majority of beer is made from life's greatest source, and the quality of water used can have a significant impact on the beer. You'll often hear certain beers described as having or mimicking a regional style, such as an "Irish stout" or a "German lager". This description is not only a reflection of how it's made but also how the beer takes on the characters of the local water.
Natural water contains a range of minerals, compounds and microbes that create different levels of pH. Vital influential chemicals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, bicarbonate and sulfates. These can change everything from the colour to the taste, and a detailed brewer will know how to use these characters to evolve good beers into great ones.
The world's most alcoholic beer has an ABV of 67.5%
It's called Snake Venom, brewed by none other than the Scots. It was created by Lewis Shand and Joh McKensize from Brewmeister and, at the time of its release, it bumped one of their other beers off the top spot. This paltry attempt was only 60% ABV - pathetic!
This potent brew packs quite a punch and is made using smoke peat malt with added ale and champagne yeast. Considering that vodka and whisky typically sit at 40% ABV, the creators recommend only ever to consume 30-35ml at a time. It even comes with a yellow warning label on the neck!
Keen to try it? You can purchase a 330ml bottle online for around £50 (not including shipping!).
The Czech Republic consumes the most beer per capita annually
And they’ve sat at the top of this list for 26 years! On average they consume 143.3 litres per capita annually. However, when it comes to alcohol in general, the Czech Republic slips to fourth place, so what is it about the Czechs and beer? Czech is the birthplace of pilsner, with brewing dating back to 993, and beer costs less than bottled water.
Without a doubt, Europe is the centre of the beer-drinking world, taking a total of eight spots on the top 10: Austria (3rd), Germany (4th), Poland (5th), Ireland (6th), Romania (7th), Estonia (9th), and Lithuania (10th). Two African countries fill the other spots: Namibia and Seychelles.
Beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989
Iceland was the first country in Europe to prohibit all alcoholic beverages in 1915. But, while other forms of alcohol became legalised from as early as 1922, poor old beer remained banned until 1 March 1989. So why did beer take so much longer than everything else?
Iceland had long battled with Denmark over their independence and, as the Danes were big fans of a brew, it was viewed as unpatriotic to enjoy one. When bans on other alcohol began to lift in the following decades, the government were concerned that the availability of cheap beer would encourage alcohol abuse.
Finally, 74 years later, following protests and pressure from other nearby countries as illegal imports increased, they lifted the ban. This date is now celebrated in Iceland as "Beer Day". Skál!
There is an Austrian brewery that allows you to swim in a pool of beer
In Tarrenz, in Austria's West, there is a place where you can combine your love of beer with your love of… athletics? Starkenberger Brewery has a pool, filled with beer, which is not only a major novelty but is also said to have benefits for the skin! Beer is rich in calcium and other vitamins that help with skin conditions, and hops have calming agents to help you relax.
It goes without saying that you're not supposed to drink the pool beer, and at a few hundred euro for two hours, it's not inexpensive either. But come on, what an experience to add to the bucket list!
In 2018, Australia’s James Squires brewery created a beer using yeast from the 1790s
This porter-style beer was called The Wreck and produced in collaboration with the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) in Launceston and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in Adelaide. The yeast used to create it was discovered in Australia’s oldest merchant shipwreck, Sydney Cove, which ran aground near Tasmania’s Preservation Island in 1797 and remained at the bottom of the ocean until 1977. Miraculously, the beer bottles found aboard were still sealed!
David Thurrowgood, a chemist-turned-conservator from the QVMAG, set about growing yeast found in the bottles to expose its secrets, and recreate its character for the new beer. Dark in colour with spicy chocolate notes, James Squires recommended that the limited release beer be enjoyed slowly to savour its 220-year-old flavour!