The 'Mustache Tax' That Comes With Drinking A Guinness

Historically, facial hair taxes implemented in various countries around the globe stipulated that men who wanted to display beards were charged annual fees by the government. Whether for religious or aesthetic reasons, beard taxes were certainly an odd way for the common person to end up with a little less money in their pocket. And while nowhere close to being the authoritarian edict to pay up for wearing a beard in public, the often overlooked mustache tax that comes with drinking Guinness is still costing unexpected pennies off the dollar.

This so-called mustache tax refers to the traces of wasted beverage that get trapped in facial hair above the lip when drinking a pint of Guinness. Research released in 2000 that was commissioned by Guinness Brewery found that roughly 162,719 pints of its creamy stout end up stuck in mustaches in the U.K. each year. In 2000, that would have equated to £423,070 (the equivalent of $677,567 in the U.S.) in wasted beer. In today's money, that equals £878,179 across all mustachioed Guinness lovers in the U.K. lost to the facial hair gods. According to Robin Dover, a dermatology and hair science expert who was asked to explore this phenomenon at the time, the reason mustaches are so conducive to Guinness waste is due to their natural liquid absorption rate and how easy it is for beer and foam to get trapped in between each hair fiber every time someone takes a sip.

How to mitigate the Guinness mustache tax

As scientist Robin Dover found, each sip is a chance for the mustache to collect its Guinness tax, so the only logical solution is to chug each pint in one glorious gulp, right? Well, that's one way to go about it, but there are others that are less dangerous. The easiest compromise between having any kind of facial hair you want and consuming as much Guinness as you like is to drink it straight from a can or bottle. Although Guinness would tell you that the perfect pour of its beer is in a pint glass topped with a layer of foam, this is basically impossible to replicate in a prepackaged container. However, even the bushiest of facial hair would have trouble trapping beer delivered from a small opening.

For the purists who are unwilling to compromise on the drinking experience of a classic pint glass, all hope is not lost. The best thing to do if you frequent the pub is to shave your facial hair — but this isn't 17th century Russia, and nobody is telling you to shave off all of it. By simply making a mustache less voluminous, Dover and other scientists found that smaller mustaches with less density could significantly reduce how much Guinness ultimately gets wasted. Moreover, full beards are likely to join in on the tax collection, so getting rid of or reducing facial hair below the lips can also save you from losing beer and money.