Why Do Bars Serve Salty Snacks With Beer?

Literally. When we consume sodium chloride, aka salt, the receptors in our brains that perceive bitter tastes are temporarily weakened. The bitterness in your beer is a byproduct of the addition of hops, those little tiny seed cones added during the brewing process to impart zesty, citrusy flavors in your future pint. Take a sip of your beer, really engaging in the flavor profiles that you taste when swallowing. Try it again after eating a handful of peanuts. You’ll quickly notice that the beer seems smoother and easier to drink. Easier drinking leads to faster consumption, and faster consumption leads to more beer purchases, which is exactly what those bar owners want.

Though this may seem obvious, consider how profitable these little salty investments can be in terms of bringin’ home the bacon for bar owners. A four-pack of 80-ounce (five-pound) bags of peanuts costs around $30 at your local Costco or BJ’s. That’s a mere $8 and change per five-pound bag. Consequently, depending on which major city you’re drinking in, that $8 could be the cost of one single pint at the bar you’re sitting at (hello, New York!). A small handful of peanuts may cost the bar owner around a dime yet has the strong potential to turn someone’s single post-work drink into two or three. A 20-cent investment for $20 worth of beer sales? Sounds smart to us.

Not much of a peanut/pretzel person but can’t seem to put them down when at your local watering hole? Makes sense to us. Alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat on our palates, making your average bowl of peanuts taste just a little bit better when slurping that beer (also the reason why you’re generally craving fries over kale when swigging suds, though that’s usually the case on our end regardless of what’s being sipped). In conjunction, salt also alters the chemistry on your tongue (see first point), making your beer more enjoyable as well. Tastier snacks and more satisfying beer? We’re in for both.