Monday, April 2, 2012

Is Your Beer Too Cold?

Is your beer as cold as the arctic circle? Does the bottle numb your hand so much that you have to resort to using a beer koozie? Does it have next to no taste due to that fact that it freezes your taste buds?!? Well then you are drinking some really bad beer or some good beer way to cold.

I know that it will sound crazy but your beer should not be ice cold. The macro beer companies out there tout bottles that show when beer is at the proper temperature, somewhere between around 32-34 degrees, and show images of their bottles and cans being pulled directly from banks of ice to promote the refreshing quality of their beverage (I find it hard to call it beer). This is just a ploy to cover up the fact that their beer tastes awful. If you don't believe me then go ahead and leave your preferred major beer brand out to get warm and tell me if you still think that it tastes good. They are served close to freezing cold to cover up the bitter taste and lack of real flavor.
Now this is not to say that there are not some beer types out there that shouldn't be served at a low temperature. A German Pilsner is typically served in a smaller glass to insure that the beer at the bottom of your glass is still nice and cold. However, there are many beers out there where you will miss out on much of the flavor if you serve it at the wrong temperature. Until just as recently I was just as much at fault as doing this as everybody. I would just throw the beer in the fridge and then pull one out to drink whenever, but a little research and lots of taste testing was enough to change my mind. Just the other night I was enjoying a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. I did, out of habit, keep it in the fridge. This will be reconciled as soon as I build my own beer cellar. I took the stout out about 30 minutes before I was going to drink it to let it warm up. I poured it in a glass and took a sip. I was rewarded with an amazing amount of chocolate and toasted malt flavor. As I continued to hold the glass in my hands that chocolate became even heavier and a hint of coffee entered the picture. If I had drunk this at fridge temperature I would probably have liked it, but allowing it to warm up made me love it.
Let's face it, those of you who drink beer from the major companies do so because it is cheap, cold and gets you drunk. That's not what I'm out there to do. I want my beer to be exciting and full of flavor. For those interested there are a few ways to go about having beer at the right temp. Those with some money to spend can buy a wine cooler. These allow for you to set a very specific temperature for your bottles. For those like me you can just pull it out of the fridge a little early. Pouring it into a glass will allow it to warm up faster. I know it might seem like a lot of work for a beer but trust me when I say it is worth it. Below I will list a basic guideline for different types of beer. I hope this helps to make your beer journeys long and full of flavor.
Lager beers should be kept in the refrigerator before serving at 9°C/48°F.
The light American and Australian lagers should be server at a lower temperature of 6°C/42°F.
Ales should never be over-chilled, or it will develop a haze and loose their fruity-flavors. 12-13°C/54-56°F
Very strong ales should be served at room temperature.
You can always look online for specific beers or check out the bottle, some companies will list it there.


  1. That's why I grab two beers out of the fridge at the same time; by the time i'm done with one, the other will be the right temp.

  2. That's a good plan. Although I might add that you may want to start with two beers at the right temp to fully enjoy them. Start with a stronger ale at room temp while you are waiting for a fridge beer to warm up!!

  3. It is amazing how many more flavors become noticeable as a beer warms. There is so much to miss if you just guzzle it down cold.

  4. That Shining picture made me laugh out loud. Well done, and a good article.