Why Do People Put Salt in Beer? From Science to Silly

Salt in beer has been around since the invention of Gose Beer in Germany. It is a common occurrence on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Still, many are confused by it. If you haven’t been to Mexico, or lived or traveled to the Southwestern US, and if you have no idea what Gose is, your head might be spinning, and your eyes might bug out when you see someone salt their beer for the first time.

“Yuck!” You might be thinking to yourself. “Why ruin a perfectly good beer with salt?”

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? And the answer it, you probably wouldn’t.

The Purpose of Salt

Let’s remember that the purpose of salt, historically, is twofold. It is a preservative, and it is a flavor enhancer.

For thousands of years, people were able to preserve the meat they needed to get protein into their diets by salting it. They could extend the use of their food for days and even weeks when meat had been cured properly with salt.

In terms of taste, salt has a unique ability to not only make bitter flavors less bitter, but it also enhances sweetness, sourness, and umami flavors. It brings together flavors like no other herb or mineral can.

Further, human beings need salt in our bodies to survive. Salt is literally life. It has been shown to:

  • Help you stay hydrated
  • Promote vascular health
  • Balance electrolytes and prevent muscle cramps
  • Support a healthy nervous system
  • Improve sleep

Now you see that adding salt to your beer certainly won’t harm your health, and indeed can improve it. But still, why do people put salt in beer? It can’t be for the above listed health reasons, right?

10 Reasons People Put Salt in Beer

1.     Tradition

Traditions are traditions for a reason. Father salts his beer; son salts his beer. If you come from a beer drinking family, and you grow up with older members of your tribe adding salt to their beer, chances are, you are going to pick up the habit and you’ll also be salting beer. Entire communities often fall into these traditions as well, so if the good old boys at your local pub are doing it, you probably will, too. Tradition is what makes it feel good to be home, after all.

2.     Reduced Bitterness

For super bitter beer, like a double IPA, salt will cut that bitterness down, making the beer taste a bit sweeter. So if you’re trying your hand at IPA, Gose, or Lambic, sprinkle a little salt in there, and you might find yourself acquiring the beer taste more quickly.

3.     Enhanced Sourness

Many people in Mexico will argue that it was their country that began the tradition of adding salt to beer. Indeed, the michelada, a drink with beer, lime juice, spices, and tomato juice, with salt on the rim, is a Mexican staple. And you have to have seen the ads with a nice cold bottle of Corona with lime and salt. In Mexico, lime goes with virtually everything, and the salt (acting as a natural flavor enhancer) will enhance the sourness of that lime to perfection.

4.     To Get More Drunk

It’s true. Because putting salt makes your body absorb alcohol more quickly by enlarging the opening at the bottom of your stomach, you will get more inebriated than you would without the salt. So be mindful, especially if you’re in the sun, which only dehydrates you more. But yes, some people do know that and do add salt to get more drunk.

5.     To Drink Even More Beer

Adding salt also has the effect of flattening beer, making it less filling, and enabling you to drink more of it. So guys in a beer competition at the bar might be adding salt to their beer to win!

6.     To Get More Bubbles

Yes, salt will make your beer flat, but first it will fizz it up. Some people put salt in their beer to get more foam, and it does work. But only temporarily. Salt goes after all the carbon dioxide in beer and brings it to the surface, where it evaporates.

7.     To Burp Less

Salt does not just flatten beer; it also flattens the gas in your stomach. Some people put salt in their beer to cut down on all the belching you might be doing from the carbon dioxide.

8.     To Urinate Less

One of sodium chloride’s many benefits is that it helps you retain water, which is a good thing if you are trying not to get dehydrated. It is also good if you are hanging with your friends at the local pub and don’t want to have to go to the bathroom after every drink.

9.     To Cure a Hangover

Because salt will keep you from getting dehydrated, and a hangover is largely due to dehydration, salt the day after drinking is a great cure. Even better, have the same beer you had the night before, with salt. In the hangover world that’s called hair of the dog that bit you.

10.  Everyone Else Is Doing It

And, of course, the silliest reason of all: because everyone else is doing it. It does not have to be too silly, though. It can be fun to try doing what your friends or the locals are doing, and you might find it is the beginning of a wonderful tradition that offers a ton of health benefits to boot!

In the end, there are many reasons people add salt to beer, and often the reasons are combined. If you haven’t tried salty beer yet, give it a shot. Sprinkle a little salt in your beer, and you might find it tastes better, you burp less, and you can enjoy more than usual.

Happy salting!

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  1. https://renegadebrewing.com/salt-in-beer/
  2. https://www.soundbrewery.com/putting-salt-in-beer/
  3. https://www.drstevenlin.com/salt-good-for-you/


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