You may have heard the old Hank Williams’ country song “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” but there’s a new, less depressing twist to a bit of salt in your beer. Although it may sound strange, breweries and beer-drinking patrons have been experimenting with enhancing their brews with a bit of plain and simple salt.
But How Does It Taste?
Just like adding a dash of salt to your food, salt can bring out nuanced flavors and added depth to your beer. Brewmaster Phil Wymore from St. Louis’ Perennial Artisan Ales, says, “The intended effect is balance. The beer should taste really great, though you can’t put your finger on why. If it tastes salty, you’ve kind of overdone it.”
Who Thought of This?
There are two strong cultural traditions that involve salt + beer, and they’re on either side of the Atlantic. The Michelada is a prepared beer (think beer cocktail) drunk throughout Mexico and Latin America in which salt, lime juice, hot sauce or Clamato, and spices are added to cold beer. Just like margaritas sit in a salt-rimmed glass, the Michelada is a popular refreshment that uses salt and citrus as a winning combo that even Anheuser-Busch has tapped into with their Budweiser Chelada.
Across the pond, you’ll find a saline type of beer called Gose, which originates from the city of Goslar, Germany. For nearly 1,000 years, the people of Goslar have brewed beer using water from the River Gose, which has an unusually high saline content. Now the term Gose Beer can be applied to any brew that has added salt (and often coriander) to enhance its mineral flavor.
How To Try it
Several breweries are experimenting with adding salt to their recipes, which not only makes for some highly creative naming opportunities but is a bit of an adventure for beer connoisseurs. Take Breakside’s Salted Caramel Stout (which “tastes like ice cream that fell off the wagon”) or Strangeways Brewing’s Wake Me Up Before You Gose.
If you’re a homebrewer, there are several tips for how to add salt to your brewing process or try out the beer salt Twang, from San Antonio, which comes in various flavors.
Of course, for the truly practical and low-maintenance, just shake a dash of salt in your glass before or after you pour. Salt-in-beer fans do it out of habit, enjoying the extra burst of bubbles and the ensuing conversation that always follows.