You’ve probably heard of a bar where everyone knows your name, but it turns out that the actual beer it served wasn’t quite as appealing.
The on-set secret came to light as cast members from the hit television series shared their memories from filming during a reunion panel at the ATX TV Festival in Austin last weekend, according to People. During the panel, one actor revealed what was actually flowing on-draft at Cheers: flat, salty, non-alcoholic beer. Actor George Wednt, who played Norm Peterson on the 11-season series, said the draft beer employed a bit of movie magic — and a whole lot of sodium chloride — to amp up the beer’s foamy appearance.
“It was near beer, and it was non-alcoholic beer, and they wanted it to be draft,” Wendt said during the panel. “So it was warm and flat, and the prop man put salt into it. So it was warm, flat, salty, non-alcoholic beer.”
Adding salt to beer enhances the appearance of bubbles without the hassle of actually carbonating it, according to Renegade Brewing. It briefly forms a foam head — characteristic of a traditional draft pour — when combined with the beer’s carbon dioxide.
Wednt doesn’t divulge the exact brand on-tap at Cheers, but the term “near beer” typically refers to low- or non-alcoholic brews with less than 0.5 percent ABV. The term first appeared during Prohibition, as brewers like Anheuser Busch and Pabst pivoted to create low-alcohol beverages that came to be known as “near beer.”
Cheers aired on NBC from 1982 to 1993 and is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.