Why do people put pepper in beer
November 17, 2010 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Anybody know why old-timers put black pepper in their beer? Mainly see it in 70+ war vets, but I suppose the question could apply to anybody.
posted by Raichle to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We make a drink called Red Beer that's 1 part Spicy V8, 3 parts cheap bear, and several grinds of pepper. It's tasty, that's why!
posted by JohnFredra at 4:50 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I out Tabasco in mine, so black pepper makes sense to me. Do you see it often?
posted by AugustWest at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2010

Response by poster: Nah, I used to see it at a bar I worked at years ago among a specific group of guys and then heard some friends debating about it today. Figured I'd see if I could help them figure out where it started.
posted by Raichle at 5:01 PM on November 17, 2010

In México we have drinks with beer that use pepper (among other things). Personally, I like it.
posted by edmz at 5:24 PM on November 17, 2010

Use the expensive bear, JohnFredra. It's worth it.

Putting black pepper in beer seems like a lazy-Anglo equivalent of the michelada.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:24 PM on November 17, 2010

Not entirely relevant, but there's this James Bond story (I think it might have been Moonraker) where Bond takes a pinch of pepper and puts it into his vodka. He explains to M that it's a habit he picked up from drinking inferior Russian vodkas, to take the oil used in distillation to be bottom so it doesn't affect the taste.

Of course, 007 might not be the most reliable source for your particular case...
posted by titantoppler at 5:27 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

My grandfather put salt in his beer (poor man's Gatorade, enjoyed after much sweating in the sun doing physical labor), but never pepper.
posted by goblinbox at 6:16 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

One possible reason: the flakes of pepper would increase the surface area inside the glass and increase the formation of carbonation bubbles, once the beer's head has dissipated. I've seen lots of people put salt crystals in half-drunk schooners to get the froth back.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:22 PM on November 17, 2010

Yeah, this just makes me think of a michelada. Seems kind of far off, though.
posted by soma lkzx at 10:36 PM on November 17, 2010

Mr. hgg says he knows of people who used to put salt in their beer (for the froth-related reasons outlined above) but have been told to cut out salt because of high blood pressure. So they use the other thing that's at hand beside the salt shaker--pepper.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:57 PM on November 17, 2010


If there's oil in the drink, the pepper will disperse it and you'll be able to see the dispersal. Fill a glass with water, squeeze a drop of detergent in there. Swirl. Drop a shake a pepper on it and see the oil film disperse.

Then again, it could be a (very) local idiosyncracity - have you asked the practictioners why they did it?
posted by porpoise at 11:21 PM on November 17, 2010

I suspect that it may be something peculiar to your location (Pittsburgh)--see this six-year-old AskMe (the response near the bottom). Doesn't sound stranger than putting a raw egg in your beer, IMO.

Also, I'm unaware of any type of oil or particularly oleaginous substance that would be in beer, with the exception of a few specialty beers that contain oily or fatty ingredients like chili or chocolate, although you never know with commercial beer because they're not required to list their ingredients and America doesn't have a law like the German Reinheitsgebot. Hopefully, your elderly beer drinkers aren't peppering Yuengling to rid it of impurities.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:04 AM on November 18, 2010

Several Belgian styles are supposed to have peppery/spicy notes. I doubt a lot of old-timers would have had saisons during their war service then decided to replicate that flavor in domestic beer, but it's possible. It's a nice flavor, especially to pep up the light lagers I typically see 70+ year olds drinking. I see the same crowd putting salt in their beers sometimes, too, which is a flavor in Gose, but again, not a style that I think they're trying to replicate.
posted by cog_nate at 8:43 AM on November 18, 2010

« Older God without mood swings   |   Gumbo in the UK Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.