The Sociological Implications of the Twist-Off Bottle Cap

I can't count how many times, when I first started drinking craft beer, I nearly ripped the skin from my palms. You know how it goes, absentmindedly twisting the top off of a non-twist-off bottle. More times than I'd care to admit, I even gave it a second go.

These days, I have a bottle opener mounted on the wall above my trashcan, and have developed a fluidity of movement from fridge to wall, popping the top off of a beer with a surprising amount of efficiency and grace. Oftentimes, I'll look up from opening a bottle to find my wife standing behind me, transfixed by the loveliness of the motions involved, balletic in their pirouetting precision. That, or she's just waiting for me to get the hell out of her way.

At any rate, I now find myself inadvertently opening twist-offs with a bottle opener on a regular basis. While it's no skin off my back (or palm), I find it an interesting phenomenon. It actually makes me feel a bit weird, like I've become too hoity-toity a beer drinker to bother twisting a Lone Star open by hand. It reminds me of the old Martha Stewart joke: "I'm going to grind my pesto by hand in a mortar made from the ash-preserved skull of a 1st Century Italian, but you can feel free to just use a blender."

In an attempt to add balance back to that equation, I've begun practicing the various methods of alternative beer opening, from door frames to lighters. I haven't attempted the teeth method, as I don't drink near enough milk to trust the calcium content of my molars to stand up to such abuse. I'll admit I still struggle with many of the simple, lever-based methods like the lighter trick, and it makes me feel slightly inadequate. It's on my list of goals for the year.

Sprecher's Mai Bock, a twist-off whose cap I popped by wedging it in the door of my wife's jewelry armoire (just kidding, honey), pours a slightly hazy gold, with a big, creamy, white head. I over-poured, slightly, sending the foam on an overflow trajectory, and causing me to aspirate more than a bit of it. I originally intended to make a crass joke here about Catholic school girls (they rule), but my wife deemed it too crass. "Doesn't your mother read your column?" Indeed she does. Hi, Mom.

The aroma is fairly weak, taking a lot of sniffing to reveal anything. My kids laugh at me whenever I get foam on my nose doing this. Once it came out, it was mostly a soapy, cilantro note with a slight tang. A bit of yeast, very mild breadiness and very mild rounded malts come through a bit, too. It's slightly like the smell of buttermilk waffle batter, only not really.

The flavor offers more, but only slightly. It's a clean, light, refreshing beer with a lightly malty body. The yeast hint comes on more strongly, propelled by fairly active carbonation. The hops finally show themselves, with a nicely floral character and just a bit of citrus.

The best way I can think to describe this beer is as tasting like a beer a soda maker would brew. I don't know if that makes sense to you, and it may help to know that Sprecher's is also a maker of (very good) sodas, but that's my impression. It's good enough, but somewhat ignorable, and it tastes very much like it's intended to be enjoyed casually, almost as an afterthought.

I have another bottle in the fridge, and I'm certainly going to drink it. I think it would go quite nicely with some pizza or a hot dog. I also think I'm going to try opening it with a piece of paper and, looking back at that statement, am beginning to doubt the effectiveness of my bottle-opening endeavors in keeping to my roots.

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall