Beer in copper mug may sound unfamiliar to others, but it is a popular choice of glassware to serve many mocktails. One such widely consumed mocktail in copper mugs is the Moscow mule, a mix of vodka, lime, and ginger beer.
Still, there are uncertainties about the safety of drinking beer in copper steins or mugs. The good news is that science has all the answers and we have compiled them all for you in this article.
Is It Safe To Drink Beer in a Copper Mug?
For short term drinking in copper mugs where you will be exposed to only low levels of copper, yes it is safe; but take note that longer exposures or ingesting the chemical might lead to medical complications.
Long-term drinking beer in pure copper mugs or ingesting high levels of copper may lead to Copper Toxicity. In July 2017, The State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division released an advisory on using copper and copper alloys for serving food. This advisory prohibits the use of copper and its alloy to serve food or beverages with a pH of less than 6.0 (acidic), such as wine, vinegar, and fruit juice.
The majority of beer styles have a pH ranging from 0-6.0. As per the advisory, beer could react with copper and the copper might leach into it. The good news is that short term drinking in copper mugs or low levels of exposure to copper is not harmful. On the contrary, some exposure to copper is even good for your health.
The main concern is the long-term drinking of beer in copper glassware or high-level exposure to copper. Fortunately, you can use copper mugs lined with steel or nickel to drink beer. These mugs are safe to use as there is no direct contact with copper with the beer.
If you remember the rules and choose the right mug, drinking in a copper mug makes sense. Moreover, it has several benefits, which we will be listing below.
Benefits of Drinking Beer in Copper Mugs
When you choose to drink your favorite beer in copper Moscow mule mugs, expect the following benefits.
– Impressive Thermal Dynamics
Perhaps this is the most logical and acceptable advantage of drinking beer in copper glassware. Elementally, copper’s thermal conductivity is far higher than glass and other materials. Even when you pour a lukewarm beer into a chilled copper mug, it cools down the beer to a perfect temperature. Similarly, the cooper mug keeps the beer colder for a long period of time.
Overall, the impressive thermal dynamics give an additional cool sensation to the beer, which is something every beer lover wants.
– Outstanding Aesthetics
Every beer style has designated glassware to enhance the drinking experience. Copper mugs are the popular choice to serve Moscow mules and ales. However, everything is fair in this era of mocktails and experimental drinking. Copper mugs have the potential to light up any beer style without compromising on taste.
Furthermore, due to its aesthetic, it could be an excellent centerpiece for your at-home bar.
– Antimicrobial Properties
Copper and copper alloys are believed to have antimicrobial properties. No wonder why ancient civilizations relied heavily on copper utensils to store and consume food. According to scientific testing, a copper pot filled with microbially-unsafe water becomes bacteria-free after 16 hours of storage.
Interestingly, the action of copper against microorganisms is not limited to one or two strains of bacteria, but it ranges from wide strains of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Therefore, feel free to choose copper steins or copper mugs during your next visit to the bar.
– Enhanced Taste Profile
As beer is all about experience, copper mugs are the best to enhance it. Probably, this is why Moscow mule copper mugs are so popular. Copper is believed to amplify the fizziness of the carbonation in this cocktail. The other reason is enhanced sensory profile and more refreshed sips.
The science behind this theory is when beer makes contact with copper, it oxidizes. This reaction results in the enhancement of fizziness, aroma, and taste. However, using copper mugs with nickel plating is vital to prevent copper from leaching into your drink.
Fortunately, nowadays, all copper mugs come with steel or nickel plating.
– Health Benefits
Copper is a micro mineral found in our bodies that supports a healthy immune system, aids in red blood cell formation, and so on.
Additionally, due to its antioxidant properties, a low level of copper exposure has several health benefits. It can:
- Regulate BP
- Support thyroid health
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Strengthen bones
- Promote kidney and liver health
- Detox the digestive system
- Stimulate brain function
- Speed up healing
- Balance hormones that make nerve cells
- Produce skin pigment
- Aid with iron absorption
- Build connective tissues
- Promote healthy immune system functioning
– Low-maintenance Glassware
As long as you follow a good cleaning ritual, copper mugs remain low maintenance. Also, these mugs are sturdy, easy to wash and last longer. If not for regular use, it could be a great choice to light up your at-home bar.
Drinking Beer in Copper Mugs Facts and Fiction
Undoubtedly, copper is a heavy metal and has the potential to react with acidic food, but it is a half-truth that fuels all myths about using copper as a drinking vessel.
We will address some common myths about copper mugs and explain the science behind them in this section.
– Causes Cancer
According to the Environment protection agency, copper doesn’t cause cancer in humans. Unlike other heavy elements, there is no direct evidence that drinking beer from copper mugs causes cancer. On the contrary, low levels of copper strengthen the immune system due to its antioxidant properties. However, high levels of copper ingestion may result in copper poisoning.
– Causes Food Poisoning
Ingestion of Copper levels above 3.5 mg/L can cause copper poisoning in humans. Fortunately, occasional drinking in copper steins does not expose you to such high levels, but long-term exposure can cause some common symptoms, including irritation to the mouth, eyes, and nose, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, and dizziness.
So it is better to use copper mugs plated with other metals like steel or nickel.
– Ferments Beer
Copper is an essential nutrient for yeast growth, so brewers use copper vessels during pre-fermentation or fermentation to expose the brew to some levels of copper. Generally, the level of copper remains under 0.2 mg/L as any number above this limit is toxic for the yeast. Moreover, yeast metabolizes such low levels of copper during fermentation.
Also, copper levels above 3.5 mg/L can only harm humans. 0.2 mg/l in the brew is far less than this limit. Therefore, the use of copper vessels during fermentation is not a matter of concern. Nowadays, brewers generally use stainless steel vessels or copper vessels plated with steel.
– How Much Copper Is Too Much?
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 340-890 mcg of dietary copper per day for children 18 years and below, whereas a healthy adult should limit the intake to 900 mcg/day.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), any number above 10mg per day may cause adverse health effects
Best Practices for Drinking Beer in Copper Mugs
Keep the following aspects in mind before drinking beer in copper mugs.
- Mug Lining: It is vital to choose a stein or mug with steel or nickel lining to prevent copper from leaching into your drink. In the absence of lining or plating, there are chances of reaction between beer (having pH less than 6.0) and copper. While small levels do not cause any harm, high levels or long-term exposure may lead to copper poisoning.
- The pH level of the drink: As per The State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, any food having a pH of less than 6.0 should not be consumed in copper vessels. While it is impractical to measure the pH of food every time you consume it, try to avoid acidic food, mocktails, and beverages containing lime, wine, and vinegar.
- The drink’s temperature: If you use pure copper mugs with no linings, do not pour hot beverages into them. The risk of copper leaching into the drink increases with an increase in the temperature of your drink.
We have tried to cover every fact and fiction surrounding the use of copper mugs to drink beer, so let us sum it all up:
- The State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division’s advisor prohibits the use of copper vessels to consume food with a pH of less than 6.0.
- Long-term exposure to copper or ingesting high levels of copper (above 3.5mg/l) may lead to copper poisoning.
- Generally, occasional drinking in copper mugs may not expose you to high levels of copper.
- Today, Moscow mules and ales are served in copper mugs lined with steel or nickel to prevent direct contact with copper.
- Copper is an essential micronutrient with several health benefits like regulating BP, strengthening the immune system, and forming RBC.
Considering the various facts, copper mugs seem perfect for enjoying a drink or two occasionally. However, it is not a suitable vessel for experiment drinking, as hot and acidic beverages increase the chances of copper toxicity.