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Beer at a tailgate party is a common sight much like grills, BBQ sauce and long lines for the port-o-let. Just because beer at a tailgate party is as common as Amy Winehouse at last call does not mean it should not be considered a precious commodity. That is why you as a seasoned tailgater need to know the eights ways tailgaters ruin the taste of their beers. Why would you want to intentionally ruin a beer? You wouldn’t. Knowing the techniques that will turn a beer into a skunky, foul, undrinkable mess can help you keep your beer tasting great and ensure the girls next to you will invite you back next time. So here are the eight ways tailgaters need to avoid so they do not ruin their beer.
1. The Heat Is On – Heat is the major death blow to the overall taste of beer. There is a reason many beer companies spend millions in advertising telling you how cold their beer is filtered and packaged. That’s because even if your beer is ice cold when you pop the top, if it has gotten too hot sometime during the process it will taste flat out awful. The ideal temperature to store beer is between 38 and 40 degrees. So if you are on your way to the tailgate, make sure you take your beer and place it in the cooler with ice directly from the fridge. That will preserve the taste and also will save you money on buying more ice because your warm beer killed your ice stock.
2. Set It and Forget It – From the moment you open a beer it starts to go south. No need to panic and break out the Flabongo just yet. Your normal drinking speed should be just fine to still enjoy your beer before it goes bad. However, we know while tailgating people like to move around and socialize. So if you set down your beer and spend the next 30 minutes in line for the port-a-potty you’ll come back to a beer that is not only warm but on its way to tasting nasty. Make sure to keep tabs on your beer and remember where you put it down unless you like the taste of flat beer.
3. Freeze Frame – We all like beer ice cold but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Even though alcohol does not freeze (high alcohol content is the reason why you can put a bottle of JÃ¤germeister in the freezer and it will still pour like maple syrup) the alcohol content in beer is not high enough to prevent the rest of it from freezing. Have you ever had a beer that was frozen and then thawed out? It is normally flat as Kansas and all the taste has been killed. Also, serving beer that cold actually prevents some of the volatile components in the beer from being released. Keep it cold but not too cold.
4. Let The Light Shine On In – We’ve already told you about heat being a big enemy of beer. Meet light, heat’s evil twin and just as nasty. Unless you like the smell of skunk, you need to keep your beer shielded from light as much as possible. Think of your beer bottles as a pair of sunglasses to prevent that skunky flavor. Brown bottles keep out the harmful UV rays the best while green bottle do little in the line of protection and clear bottles provide no protection. Beer cans are your best choice for tailgating because they let in zero light and many tailgating parking lots have a strict “no glass” policy. (You can thank Raider Fan for that rule.)
5. Shake Yo Thang – Shaking up a beer does two things to damage it. The first is obvious that when you open it, 2/3rds of it will spray out everywhere making a foamy mess. The other is that the remaining beer has been overexposed to the pent up carbonation and that ruins the flavor of beer while also making it flat. Try to avoid bumpy roads, swerving in and out of traffic or sharp turns on your way to go tailgating. That is unless you prefer a cooler full of beer waiting to explode.
6. Fruit of the Holy Spirit – Many Mexican beers are marketed to the American beer drinking public to encourage putting a lime wedge into your beer. Maybe this is to mask the skunky taste their clear bottles are prone to allowing? The fact remains that adding fruit to your beer will alter its true taste. It may be a matter of personal preference but no matter what you put in your beer, make sure you are doing it because you like the taste and not because a TV commercial makes you think you should.
7. Fuggedaboutit – Beer is brewed to be the best tasting and freshest when it leaves the brewery. That’s why buying that 30 pack of beer for the last game of the season and waiting to drink the remainder at next year’s season opener is a bad idea. Time is a killer for a beer so man up and either drink the entire case before heading into the game or give it away to the can man. You’ll be thankful you did next season.
8. Forget to Grub – For years now, wine has been the main adult beverage that is considered to be the perfect compliment to food. That’s an old wive’s tale. Beer is great paired with food, especially tailgate food. A big old rack of baby back ribs is best served with a beer or a glass of wine? Hoagies piled high with everything? Would you rather have a glass of White Zin or a cold beer? Yeah, we thought so. Of course those that are using beer as a vehicle to just get hammered before going into the game in order to avoid the high prices inside won’t care about food pairings.
Now that you know the eight ways tailgaters typically ruin their beers you can employ these techniques to avoid the same pitfalls. Keep in mind that beer is precious and having great tasting beer while tailgating will only enhance the entire experience. Special thanks to Beer Magazine for providing some inspiration and guidelines for compiling this list. Hopefully armed with this knowledge you won’t just tailgate, you will tailgate better.