Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Proper Beer Serving Temperatures

Ditch the frosty mugs and listen up!

Drinking beer ice-cold may sound like the perfect thirst quencher, but you are potentially missing out on much of a beer’s nuances that make it so worthy of your palate in the first place. But wait! Don’t warm it up too much or you’ll end up with the unenjoyable task of choking down lukewarm beer.

So what is the perfect beer serving temperature?
Temperature’s Effect on Beer

Before jumping into temperature suggestions, it’s important to understand the effects that incorrect serving temperature can have on beer.

Too Cold

Chilling beer below ideal serving temperatures enhances some qualities of beer, while masking others. Sure, anything ice-cold is going to come across as refreshing on a hot day, but beer is to be enjoyed for its flavor, especially if you spent weeks making and managing homebrew!

The biggest issue with beer served too cold is the way the temperature masks many flavors and aromas. The cold temperature slows the volatilization of aromatic compounds causing them to linger in the beer. When these compounds are not released, it dramatically changes the apparent flavor and aroma of the beer, sometimes to the point where it may come across as thin and tasteless.

The cold also enhances qualities like bitterness, dryness and carbonation, which can enhance the “quench” quality, but if paired with a “thin, tasteless” beer can make for a very unpleasant drinking experience with harsh texture. Overly-chilled beer can also exhibit haziness in a usually-clear brew.

Too Hot

Warm beer, on the other hand, does allow for more of the flavors and aromas to come to the forefront, but as beer approaches room temperature the sensations from hop bitterness and carbonation can decrease, which can lead to an almost flat-tasting experience.

It’s also usually pretty obvious you don’t want to drink too warm of beer (unless you’remaking a flip, of course).

Just Right: Suggested Beer Serving Temperatures

So that leads us to the million dollar question: what is the proper serving temperature for beer so that it is refreshing and thirst-quenching while still allowing you to enjoy the bouquet of flavor that makes drinking high quality beer so great!

Unfortunately, there’s not one temperature that is perfect for all beers, but instead it depends on the beer style, brewing process and a little bit of tradition. However, using a few rules basic rules, along with the handy table below, you can make informed decisions on the temperature to serve your next beer. Remember, these are general suggestions and some styles may bend the rules a bit!

Beer Suggested Temperature
American Mainstream Light Lagers33° – 40° F
Pale Lagers, Pilsners38° – 45° F
Cream & Blonde Ales40° – 45° F
Nitro Stouts40° – 45° F
Belgian Pale Ales, Abbey Tripels40° – 45° F
Wheat Beers40° – 50° F
Lambics40° – 50° F
Dark Lagers45° – 50° F
American Pale Ales & IPAs45° – 50° F
Stouts, Porters45° – 55° F
Strong Lagers50° – 55° F
Real & Cask Ales50° – 55° F
Belgian Dubbels50° – 55° F

General Serving Temperature Rules:
  • All beers should be served between 38-55° F.
  • Lagers are served colder than ales.
  • Stronger beers are served warmer than weaker beers.
  • Darker beers are served warmer than lighter beers.
  • Macro lagers are served as cold as the Rockies.
  • Serve beers a few degrees colder than the target temperature, to accommodate for warming from the glass and the drinker’s hands.
Data from Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher.

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