We learned yesterday that the marketing campaigns we see every day which conjure up fantasies about ice cold beer are not designed to enhance your beer drinking experience, but rather to increase the big guys wallets. But the question still remains; what temperature should I enjoy my delicious beer at to best absorb the flavors that it has to offer?
It can be difficult to know what temperature you should enjoy your beer at, and it is not as cut and dry as determining if your beer has a little or a lot of flavor. The intensity of the beers flavor is but one of many characteristics that should be taken into consideration when picking the proper temperature for your beer.
It should be noted though that serving temperature is merely a guideline; everyone has their own specific preferences as to how they like to enjoy their beers, and there is no real right or wrong. Serving temperature for beer can be broken down into six essential categories:
Very Cold, slightly colder than your fridge (0 – 4C, 32 – 39F): This serving temperature is for beers which you don’t actually want to taste. It is better suited for pop, iced tea and similar beverages, but certain beer styles do fit into this range. You get these beers at most all sporting venues and at commercial shopping chains. Malt Liquor, Canadian-style commodity ales and lagers, low alcohol or low calorie beers, Scandinavian-style ciders, and most all commodity grade beers fit into this category of flavorless beverages.
Cold, around fridge temperature (4 – 7C, 39 – 45F): This is more appropriate for beers designed to quench your thirst and refresh you. Often beers with high carbonation, and many times fruit added will fit into this range. They will range greatly in flavor intensity from light to mild, and include sweet flavors as well. These are perfect for hot summer days at the beach or in front of a BBQ, or after hard physical exercise. Hefeweizen, Weissebier, Wit and other wheat beers, Kolsch, Premium Lager, Pilsner, European Strong Lager, American Dark Lager, sweetened Fruit Lambics, and some Belgian pale ales such as Duvel will fit here.
Cool, out of your fridge for ten minutes (8 – 12C, 45 – 54F): This range is designated for beers with richer body and aromatic properties, more complex and layered flavors, but will still quench and refresh your palate. These can still play a large role on the beach or BBQ, but are better choices than above for the dinner table, a relaxing pint, or a celebratory drink. American Pale Ales, Sweet Stout, Dry Stout, Porter, English Golden Ales, unsweetened Lambics, Belgian Ales, Bohemian Pilsner, Dunkel, Helles, Vienna Lager, Schwarzbier, Smoked beers, Altbier, Tripels, Irish Ales, and Fresh Ciders are all perfect in this temperature range.
Cellar, out of your fridge for fifteen minutes (12 – 14C, 54 – 57F): Beers in this range are often filled with flavor, but this is not always the case. This temperature is applicable for beers which are designed to accentuate specific flavors, whatever they may be in that style. They can be very complex and higher in alcohol, and if served colder you risk loosing many of the beers characteristics. This range is great for dinner, enjoying with friends over good conversation, as a nigh cap, or a solitary beer for pure enjoyment. Bitters, Brown Ales, India Pale Ales, English Strong Ales, Saison, Old Ales, Unblended Lambics, Sour Ales, Baltic Porter, Spiced Beers, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Strong Ales, Bocks, Kellerbier, Scotch Ales, American Strong Ales, English Cider, and many Stouts will be perfect at this temperature.
Warm, out of your fridge for twenty minutes (14 – 16C, 57 – 61F): This range is not quite up to room temperature which is around 21C, but is significantly warmer that right out of the fridge. It should be reserved for big beers with massive flavors and typically higher alcohol percentages. Some of the worlds best and most complex beers will be served at this temperature, and you should not be shy to try it – you can always begin your beer cooler, and compare how it taste towards the end as it has warmed. Barley Wines, Quadrupels, Imperial Stouts, Imperial IPAs, Double IPAs, Doppelbocks, Winter Beers, Eisbocks and meads should all be served close to this range. Anything much colder will numb the fast flavors which these beers are famous for.
Hot, heated close to tea (70C, 158F): Not many beers fit into this range, but some breweries do still produce specific beers designed to be served piping hot. It does bring out immense flavor and huge aromatics, but can be very confusing to people – this is not something we are accustomed to when drinking beer. Nonetheless, these beers are best served at this temperature, and can reward your bravery with beautiful flavors only choice people have enjoyed. Unibroue Quelque Chose, Liefmans Gluhkriek, and Dark Spiced Winter Ales like Daleside Morocco Ale are few examples that are tremendous when hot.