Tested: Make Bad Beer Taste Better with a Bit of Bitters
When your day sucks, all you want is a tall, ice-cold glass of beer at the end of it all. Nothing complicated about having some booze to temporarily drown your sorrows.
But sometimes you get stuck with crappy beer (hey-o, Keystone Ice!), and it feels like the world is out to get you. Like... you bought cheap beer for poker night, but your sly poker buddies found the good stuff you were hiding for yourself at the back of the fridge, and now you're stuck with piss water. Thanks a lot, guys.
Since I happened to have Angostura bitters in my liquor cabinet (because I love Old Fashioned cocktails like any civilized adult should), I figured I'd give it a try and poured a few drops into an ice-cold glass of Coors. (That's right, you heard me: Coors is a sad beer. Sorry not sorry.)
Before I added any of the bitters, I tasted the beer on its own. Yeah—still not a fan. Then, I started with just a few drops of the bitters, gave the mix a gentle stir, and had a sip. Not bad, but still a bit bland.
After that, I decided to go for broke and add 2 strong dashes of bitters into the glass—hello, heavenly herbal mixture. However, the flavor of the bitters completely overpowered the flavor of the beer, which is probably a surprise to no one that's ever mixed a cocktail with bitters. They pack a powerful punch!
And, just for the sake of those of you that don't like letting a single drop of beer—even crappy beer—go to waste: I tried the bitter-enhanced beer after a few hours, when the beer was at room temperature and had gone completely flat. The bitters definitely improved the flavor at this point in the game, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it has more to do with my love of Angostura bitters than anything else.
The one hang-up I have about bitters in beer is the type of beer you'd be adding the bitters to: and I think you'll just have to use your best judgement. Angostura bitters or orange bitters are way better with lagers and lighter beers, but would probably taste rank as hell in a porter—but coffee bitters would do the porter good. (Then again, I've never had a bad porter, so I doubt this would ever be a problem on my end.)
That aside, would I recommend the use of bitters to improve crappy beer? Absolutely.
As for how much to add, I'd say it depends on how much you hate the beer. If it's just okay, try a few drops. But if it's truly crappy, then start with a dash of bitters and taste as you go.
Anything short of dumping it down the sink would improve the taste of low-quality beer, from orange slices to making it disappear into a beertail mix. But I think that bitters are an even easier way to inject a delicious burst of flavor into inferior brew, and I would definitely do it again.
Now that we've tested and verified that this flavor hack is one worth trying, would you give it a shot? Did it save your taste buds from crappy beer? Let us know in the comments!