Ideal Drinking Temperatures for Beer

Posted by BeerMaven | Beer | Posted on July 15th

When deciding on the perfect temperature to serve beer at, we have to consider how it affects the beer as a whole. Beer that is served to cold makes it difficult for the body to digest and the stomach copes best with liquids at around body temperature. Cold temperatures also tend to mask all of the complex flavors of beer, and while this is okay for pilsners and lagers, you do not want to hide all of the fruity and nutty flavors in darker beers.

Most macro brewers insist on producing and selling beer at temperatures below 5º C and this dulls out the taste and reduces the aroma, which leaves very little to enjoy. Microbrewers on the other hand, are far more flexible and seem to follow the rules of brewing to the letter; also their storage facilities are far less complicated than that of the macro brewer. Beer clubs all across the world will probably be our best debaters on the matter.

Bearing in mind that not all flavors are affected in the same way, some chilling methods are used to balance the beer. Each beers flavor reacts differently to cold temperatures, hops bitterness are complimented, fruity flavors will vanish, and robust spices remain intact while the taste of malts will evaporate. Pale lagers are less damaged by the cold than malty ales, it’s no coincidence that lagers have always been produced and served at colder temperatures than that of ales.

So what is the correct temperature for serving beer?

International styled pilsners should be served at around 4º C or 5º C, Lagers at around 6º C – 8º C, and ales at around 15º C. When you look at most beer labels, the breweries will recommend temperatures between 4º C and 12º C. There are large differences between these two temperatures and this is probably why most pubs, restaurants and home consumers keep their beer between 4º – 6º C.

Most places serve their beers in frozen glasses, which seems like a brilliant idea in theory, but it is difficult to enjoy a stout or porter at such low temperatures. The draught machine’s pipes are usually set to the same temperature of those used for pilsners and lagers which means even those who are meant to be professionals in the industry are not all that educated as to how to really enjoy a fine beer. Believe it or not the warmer the beer the easier it is to pick up on the flavors of the beer you are consuming.

If you ever had trouble tasting your beer, the answer could be as simple as letting it warm up a little.

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