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Old 03-09-2006, 01:49 PM
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Putting salt in beer?

In a biography of Elvis I was recently reading, someone is mentioned as putting salt in his beer before drinking it. Is this something that many people do? It's the first time I've ever heard of it.
Old 03-09-2006, 01:53 PM
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I've known one guy that used to do it at the Muni course where I played golf.

I've tried it. I don't think that it's common, but not unheard of.
Old 03-09-2006, 01:57 PM
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It's supposed to de-carbonate it, though why anyone would want to is beyond me.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:03 PM
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Crappy beer is much improved by salting. Back in the dark ages when the choice of tipple around here didn't get much better than O'Keefe or Labatt's, I always salted my beer. It makes it taste better and gives it a little head.

I guess it's uncommon enough that a lot of pubs don't leave salt-shakers on the table, but common enough that barmaids don't blink when you ask for one.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:07 PM
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As a bartender, I can tell you that this isn't that uncommon. Frankly, I have no idea what the point is and I haven't tested it myself, but there's certainly a subset of people who do this.

One generalization I noticed is that it seems to be somewhat more common amongst Mexican customers, often it's the lime & salt thing normally applied with tequila. It's also always done with brands of beer that have a tendency to skunk, Corona, MGD, XX, Rolling Rock etc.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
It's supposed to de-carbonate it, though why anyone would want to is beyond me.
Because my beer belches are really loud!

Like Larry Mudd said, it improves crappy beer. I drank Grain Belt when I was a teenager, and I think it was pre-salted.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:32 PM
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I thought that people that drank beer very slowly did this to provide nucleation sites for new bubbles of CO2. One of the characters in Westlake's Dortmunder novels does this.

But the thought is ghastly.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:37 PM
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I've got a friend who has both terrible stomach problems and a deep, abiding love of alcohol. He salts his beer; I asked him why once and he said it made it easier on his stomach. I guess the salt takes the carbonation out and makes it easier for his system to digest.
Old 03-09-2006, 02:38 PM
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If you dump a lot of salt {or sugar. Or sand Anything with nucleation sites) into beer or soda, you get a lot of fizzing really fast, and the glass bubbles over. Sissy Spacek's character does this in Three Women. I've dem,onstrated it to MilliCal.

But I can't think it helps the flavor any.
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:40 PM
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August West has it. The idea is to "restore" the head on your beer. Vile habit, but what can you do?
Old 03-09-2006, 02:51 PM
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My Grandfather told me this a long time ago and my Father told a similar story.
He used to bring a large Beer Bucket to the corner Bar and get it filled to bring home. To reduce head and ensure he got a full gallon he would put a little butter at the bottom. Then once home he would pour the beer in the glasses and add a little salt to restore/create the head.

Jim
Old 03-09-2006, 02:54 PM
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My mother always did this when she drank a beer. I have salted on occasion, butnot often. But then, I really like salt...
Old 03-09-2006, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
If you dump a lot of salt {or sugar. Or sand Anything with nucleation sites) into beer or soda, you get a lot of fizzing really fast, and the glass bubbles over. Sissy Spacek's character does this in Three Women. I've dem,onstrated it to MilliCal.

But I can't think it helps the flavor any.
I do it with my flavored/splendaed/carbonated water because that stuff is so carbonated...the salt tones it down some and allows quicker drinking when I am thirsty. Sucks when I use the pepper by accident.
Old 03-09-2006, 05:03 PM
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I do this with Mexican beer occassionally, mostly because everyone else seems to be doing it.
Old 03-09-2006, 05:15 PM
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Back when I drank draft beer in the bars of Southern Ontario, it was common to put salt in it. You don't want to pour beer from a bottle into a glass and add salt. It's a thing you do with draft beer. I don't know why, except it tastes pretty good.

When I was a kid, I had a friend whose dad owned one of the two local hotels. You'd see people adding salt to their draft all the time.
Old 03-09-2006, 08:18 PM
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My maternal grandmother used to do this. She said that it gave the beer a better head, and that beer is a diuretic, so it needed salt. She had some pretty odd ideas about food and drink, though. She also drank common domestic beer, not the good stuff, so I guess that the flavor was improved by salting it as well.

I don't salt my beer. And I believe that life is too short to drink crappy beer.
Old 03-09-2006, 08:44 PM
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My mother does it especially with Corona. I have done it before and it isn't too bad.
Old 03-10-2006, 03:58 AM
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It popular enough that they even make beer salt.
Old 03-10-2006, 04:15 AM
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... then again...

Ball sweat would make probably make Corona taste better...



This would never have been "invented" in the first place if people even knew the true definition of beer.

Malt flavored alcohol water != beer



No beer connoisseur would EVER do this.

While I have added Burton salts pre-brew... there is always a true scientific reason behind it, based on pH, and/or the pre-brew water quality.

I've only seen people salt shit like Corona or BMC. And I can't really blame them at that point.
Old 01-31-2013, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What Exit? View Post
My Grandfather told me this a long time ago and my Father told a similar story.
He used to bring a large Beer Bucket to the corner Bar and get it filled to bring home. To reduce head and ensure he got a full gallon he would put a little butter at the bottom. Then once home he would pour the beer in the glasses and add a little salt to restore/create the head.

Jim
Best Answer I have seen. Answers the question why.
Old 01-31-2013, 10:23 PM
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It's good you should try it!
Slight hijack - a bit of tomato juice in a draft beer is nice as well!
Old 01-31-2013, 11:01 PM
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James Lee Bourke's character Clete Purcell does this in all of the Dave Robechoux novels.
Old 02-01-2013, 06:35 AM
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My father used to do this. I always thought the habit was a hold-over from the crappy beer he had available while growing up poor in Pennsylvania. Never asked him about it, but the "get a beer bucket from the local bar" idea fits in well with his background.
Old 02-01-2013, 06:45 AM
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the only place I've lived where it was common to salt the beer was Duluth, MN. Made the draft taste a little better, I think.
Old 02-01-2013, 09:25 AM
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Slat makes things taste less bitter- which is why pastry chefs say to always add a pinch of salt to Chocolate- it cancels out some of the bitterness from the cocoa and makes the sugar-sweetness shine more brightly.

Beer is flavored with a bittering agent- Hops. Adding salt detracts from the bitterness and can make an overly bitter beer more palatable.

I recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, a scientific expolration of all things food, literally down to the molecular level. It is a comprehensive encylopediac tome of food science.

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:13 AM
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It's interesting that the rationales behind salting beer are somewhat disparate and not entirely compatible. As for making the beer taste better, I seem to recall reading that the deal with salt was that it made food taste more like itself somehow. Around here (Texas) they sell packages of lemon-lime salt wherever they sell beer. I didn't care for it much.

I once knew someone who salted her coffee, which was supposed to improve its flavor or something, which maybe if salt does somehow temper bitterness would make sense, but I'm not clear why that is.

I have also read two theories about why salt is added when baking bread -- one answer is that it just tastes funny without a little salt. Another is that the salt retards the growth of yeast, which makes the leavening more even.
Old 02-01-2013, 10:26 AM
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My recollection is that while the boss and staff wanted a glass of draft with their lunch, they didn't want to go back to work with it on their breath where the hourly could smell it, so they didn't want to belch, and, thus, salted their beer to get rid of the bubbles.
Old 02-01-2013, 11:17 AM
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This article references food scientist Shirley Corriher and how salt is well-known to food scientist to cancel bitterness, although the exact method by which it does so is unknown (I'd guess that salt fills, blocks or otherwise interferes with the 'bitter' receptors on the tongue, but I am a Historian, not a biologist / physician)

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/...trumps-bitter/

Johnny Angel, coffee is bitter, adding salt does improve its flavor by reducing bitterness. I am a constant baker, and salt DOES improve flavor, even in chemically leavened breads (biscuits) that do not have a long rise. In yeasted breads, you get even more flavor development by slowing the yeast, so salt helps here too (and bread w/o salt just tastes, well HORRIBLE) by allowing more time for the yeast's enzymes to break starches down into other flavor compounds. I recommend The Bread Baker's Apprentice that discusses the role of salt and long, slow fermentation, as well as Corriher's own Bakewise

As to it makes beer go flat- in my experience you'd have to add an awful lot of salt to do that- to the point of being undrinkable. As to flat beer- it's disgusting and why would anyone want to do that.

Suddenly I want to get a 6-pack and see how much carbonation is in a beer, then add varying amounts of salt to them to see at what point it becomes too salty, and capturing the CO2 lost... maybe in a balloon? But I hate to waste beer...

Last edited by Jimbabweosu; 02-01-2013 at 11:20 AM.
Old 02-01-2013, 11:25 AM
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A more technical study of salt supressing bitterness:

http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/con...6/609.abstract
Old 02-01-2013, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbabweosu View Post
Slat makes things taste less bitter- which is why pastry chefs say to always add a pinch of salt to Chocolate- it cancels out some of the bitterness from the cocoa and makes the sugar-sweetness shine more brightly.

Beer is flavored with a bittering agent- Hops. Adding salt detracts from the bitterness and can make an overly bitter beer more palatable.

I recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, a scientific expolration of all things food, literally down to the molecular level. It is a comprehensive encylopediac tome of food science.

Yes, I am a nerd, thank you. Nerds rule the world!
I was coming in here to say this.

Salt + bitter = (Mostly) sweet.

This is very easy to test. Get two glasses of tonic water, and sprinkle just a dash of salt in one, then taste.

One will taste bitter and nasty, and can only be improved by the rapid addition of good gin and a lime.

The other will taste not entirely unlike Sprite. (Gin wouldn't hurt it, either.)
Old 02-01-2013, 04:27 PM
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Sooo - would it make more sense to put a little salt in the coffee instead of sugar? Off to experiment...
Old 02-01-2013, 05:12 PM
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My parents were the first people I ever saw do it. Don't see it often.
Old 02-01-2013, 09:11 PM
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I don't know about adding it to a cup, but if you are using crappy mass market coffee, putting a very small amount of salt in with the grounds when you brew a put makes it more palatable.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jimbabweosu View Post
I am a constant baker, and salt DOES improve flavor, even in chemically leavened breads (biscuits) that do not have a long rise. In yeasted breads, you get even more flavor development by slowing the yeast, so salt helps here too (and bread w/o salt just tastes, well HORRIBLE) by allowing more time for the yeast's enzymes to break starches down into other flavor compounds.
I have not intentionally tried it without salt, though one time I had a loaf go nuts with the rising, which I first attributed to the sugar in the grilled onions I had thrown in. But then why doesn't honey bread do the same? I'm pretty sure I forgot the salt. I started baking bread by the prescriptions of the book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking , which was recommended by somebody here on the 'Dope. What I like about it is that it presents the fundamental principles underlying the recipe, which is much more powerful for developing your own recipes than simply repeating other people's recipes. But for the issue of salt, it just has that inadequate explanation that bread without salt doesn't taste right, and I have seen the same claimed elsewhere. The Bread Bible, which is the only other book I've got on the subject, makes the case for salt as an inhibitor of fermentation. I buy that, but so far I'm not convinced that giving the yeast more time means better flavor. My attempts to use dough that I've left in the fridge overnight (as Ratio recommends, to give the yeast time to add flavor) have resulted in bread that impressed me less. But... still, fresh baked bread still manages to amaze me however I screw it up...
Old 02-01-2013, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Maus Magill View Post
I was coming in here to say this.

Salt + bitter = (Mostly) sweet.

This is very easy to test. Get two glasses of tonic water, and sprinkle just a dash of salt in one, then taste.

One will taste bitter and nasty, and can only be improved by the rapid addition of good gin and a lime.

The other will taste not entirely unlike Sprite. (Gin wouldn't hurt it, either.)
Huh. I need to get myself a bottle of tonic water to try this out. Cool trick if it works.
Old 02-02-2013, 09:27 AM
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My mother said she used to do this.

Note that in removing carbonation, you are also reducing the bitterness caused by the carbolic acid. So I think this another reason people who don't like the bitterness of beer do it. They should probably order a hop-less ale instead.
Old 02-02-2013, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maus Magill View Post
I was coming in here to say this.

Salt + bitter = (Mostly) sweet.

This is very easy to test. Get two glasses of tonic water, and sprinkle just a dash of salt in one, then taste.

One will taste bitter and nasty, and can only be improved by the rapid addition of good gin and a lime.

The other will taste not entirely unlike Sprite. (Gin wouldn't hurt it, either.)
Salt doesn't create sweetness, it just suppresses the sensation of bitterness to the point where other flavors can be perceived more easily. Remember, tonic water is already sweetened.
Old 02-02-2013, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
My mother said she used to do this.

Note that in removing carbonation, you are also reducing the bitterness caused by the carbolic acid. So I think this another reason people who don't like the bitterness of beer do it. They should probably order a hop-less ale instead.
1. Carbon dioxide dissolved in water reacts to form carbonic acid, not carbolic acid. You don't want to ingest carbolic acid, trust me.

2. Carbonic acid is sour, not bitter.

3. Even if you nix the carbonation, you'll still have carbonic acid left in the drink. This is why seltzer tastes tangy even after it goes flat.
Old 02-02-2013, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry Mudd View Post
I don't know about adding it to a cup, but if you are using crappy mass market coffee, putting a very small amount of salt in with the grounds when you brew a put makes it more palatable.
A pinch of cinnamon will do this as well.

As far as beer, has anyone heard of putting sugar in beer? Heard it mentioned in a Taj Mahal song, St. Kitts Woman.
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