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Here’s something that’s going to blow your mind (maybe). Did you know that in past centuries, people added salt to their beer intentionally? We’re not talking about Gose, either. The practice might sound outlandish and a bit gross, but there has to be a reason why people put salt in beer, right?
Turns out, there is more than one reason for adding salt to beer. In the pursuit of better flavor, less belching, and so much more, people salt their beer. Should you?
Let’s find out if putting salt in beer is worth it.
Why Do People Put Salt in Beer?
We took some time to scour the internet and find all the reasons why someone would willingly add salt to their beer. Here is what we found:
- Taste. This is based on your own preferences, but some people genuinely like the flavor of salted beer. Anything with salt in it tastes better—unless there’s too much salt.
- Reduced bitterness. Aside from enhanced taste, salt also covers up some of the bitter flavor.
- Intoxication. Salt causes the body to absorb alcohol more quickly, because it enlarges a part of the intestine known as the duodenal sphincter. Alcohol absorbs into your blood more quickly.
- Consuming more beer. Maybe you’re trying to down more beers than your buddy in friendly competition. Adding salt to an alcoholic beverage is going to make you more thirsty, compelling you to knock back even more pints.
- Getting more bubbles in your beer. Want more foam? Salt that beer!
- Less belching. If you’re someone who hates burping after every sip of beer, a bit of salt will do the trick.
- Less running to the toilet. Salt is salt, and so your body is going to retain water. Just beware of the bloat.
- Old time hangover cure. When you’re suffering from a hangover, it’s because you’re dehydrated and lacking sodium. Salt the hair of the dog that bit you and drink up.
Salting beer is also traditional. From making cheap beer taste better during the Great Depression to old world pubs salting beer to make patrons drink more, there are many reasons for adding salt to beer. Some brewers also routinely salt their beers.
Check out this salt beer reaction (video starts at 5:00) as well as some great information on beers:
What Happens When You Put Salt in Beer?
Now that we have answered the question why do people put salt in beer?, we can start to explore why salt does what it does to beer. There is no real danger of trying salted beer, unless you don’t like salt.
Pouring salt into beer isn’t a common practice anymore, but in the past, it was something everyone did when they had tasteless beer on hand. If you ever wondered how you could make a pale light beer more flavorful, a packet of salt could do the trick!
Higher quality beer is rarely ever salted. There’s no need for it. A well-bodied, balanced beer with a smooth mouthfeel won’t need salt to jazz it up. Poor quality beer, however, needs all the help it can get. That’s where salt works its magic.
Salt is a taste enhancer, as stated by a 1997 Harvard study. Salt mutes the bitterness in beer while amplifying some of the malty sweetness. Also, you get denser foam. Flat beers taste fresher, crisper. Boring beers get an exciting pop of flavor.
Brewers Adding Salt to Beer
Long ago, brewing beer with salt was a tradition. Eventually, laws changed, and adding salt was seen as an infraction of those laws. That said, times have changed, and brewers are once again returning to salt and all the flavor combinations you can achieve.
That said, when brewers add salt to beer, their process is a bit different from how you might go about it. They add the salt while making malt, so the sweet and tangy notes become a pleasant symphony in the finished product.
Beers That Are Brewed With Salt
To prove that salt has a legitimate place in beer, here are some examples:
- Gose, the all-time best example of a salted beer. Gose has been around since the 13th century, when it was first brewed in the Goslar region of Deutschland.
- Perennial Brewery’s Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout
- Former Future Brewers’ Salted Caramel Prim and Porter
- Money Paw, a beer mixed with Himalayan rock salt that is served with Thai food
- ZeLUS beers are all brewed with sodium
Does Adding Salt to Beer Get You More Drunk?
Although this was briefly touched on above, it’s important to go over this point again. When you consume large amounts of salt and then drink alcohol (or consume both together), your body will absorb the alcohol much faster. Salt widens the duodenal sphincter, giving it faster access to the small intestine, where alcohol disperses into the bloodstream.
This is why some people will tell you to stay away from salty alcoholic beverages. You will get drunk faster and have a much worse hangover.
Obviously, you want to avoid salted beer if you have hypertension or don’t want to get drunk. There is no way to determine how much salt is required to experience this effect, however. A sprinkle probably won’t make a difference, but it’s difficult to say for sure.
How to Make Your Own Beer Salt
You can purchase beer salts online from a number of sellers, but you can also make beer salts at home. And no, beer salts are not the same thing as table salt. Beer salt is a bit more coarse than table salt and have additional flavorings. For example, beer salts from Mexico usually come with a hint of lemon and lime to dull the bitterness of beer.
But if you don’t want to go shopping around for beer salts, it might be easier to make your own at home.
To do this, you will need:
- A measuring cup
- Resealable Ziploc bag
- Airtight container
- Powdered lime
- Coarsely ground Kosher salt or rimming salt
Directions for Homemade Beer Salt
Once you have gathered your materials, follow these steps:
- Measure about a tablespoon and a half of coarse salt and pour it into a resealable bag. Add in four packets of powdered lime.
- Seal the bag and give it a shake so that the salt and lime mixes together.
- Open the bag and grab a pinch of salt. Put it on your tongue to check the flavor. If you think you need more salt or more lime, add that in. Don’t forget to do a taste test to make sure it tastes good to you.
- Now that you have the right balance, pour your beer salt into an airtight container. Whenever you want to salt some beer, simply add a pinch of this mixture.
Grab Your Shaker of Salt
Why do people put salt in beer? You have discovered a number of reasons, but it’s usually because salt makes everything, including beer, taste better. However, it’s all a matter of preference. That shouldn’t stop you from giving salted beer a try. Whether you add in some homemade beer salts or put a dash of table salt in after cracking open a can, adding salt to beer is something you should try once.
Salt in Beer FAQs
Corona doesn’t contain salt, but it is often consumed with a fresh wedge of lime and salt on the lip of the bottle. The combination of lime and salt is a popular addition to lighter beers in Central and South America, as it makes the beer taste better. This is also why a Corona and lime is such a delectable beverage to have after taking a dip in the ocean!
A pinch of coarse salt, such as margarita salt, Kosher salt, or beer salt is enough to flavor your beer. You don’t need much. Be careful about overdoing the salt, because too much could cause you to retain fluid and absorb the alcohol much faster than usual.
Drinking beer with salt can make you feel drunk faster. Salt affects the opening of the duodenal sphincter, which leads to the small intestine. Since the alcohol reaches the small intestine faster, it also absorbs into the bloodstream much more quickly. This can make you feel much more drunk.
Plus, salted beer makes you thirstier and more willing to consume excess amounts of beer, so you might end up drinking more bottles or cans than usual.
Salt does to beer what it does to everything—makes it taste better. Salt can cut through the natural bitterness of the hops in better while intensifying the malt. Additionally, salt will create more bubbles, so the head is fuller and thicker.