Should beer be served cold?
You’re probably used to going to your local pub, ordering your favourite beer and having it served in a frosted glass. I bet you’ve never really thought much about drinking beer out of a frosted glass — they don’t advertise drinking an ice cold beer for no reason… right?
Wrong! Not all beers should be drunk ice cold!(And it is actually bad form to drink your beer out of a frosted glass.) And we’re not saying that you’re supposed to drink a warm beer, either. The temperature at which you should drink your beer depends on the beer style and the brewers’ intentions when brewing.
You’re drinking your beer too cold!
Drinking ice cold beer isn’t always best. Ice cold temperatures can actually ruin the flavour of a good beer. The average household refrigerator is usually set at about 32-40° F (0-4° C), but letting your beer sit in your fridge for long periods of time at this temperature isn’t always the right temperature for your beers. Lots of negative factors come along with letting the wrong beer sit in really cold temperatures. Sorry, dude. Turns out you might be “cracking your cold one” too cold.
Why You Shouldn’t Store Your Craft Beer In “Ice Cold” Temperatures:
- The colder the beer, the less carbonation is released. Carbonation in beer gives off aromas and allows you to smell the flavours and ingredients in your beer. The aroma in beer is said to be 90% of the flavour. Cold Beer = Less Carbonation = Less Aromas = Less Flavour
“So much of our sense of taste is in the sense of smell. In order to stimulate the olfactory nerves, you have to have volatile compounds enter the nasal passage and into the throat. If beer is too cold, it will release less aromatics.” – Ray Daniels, Founder & Global Director of The Cicerone Certification Program
- Your palate can become numbed when drinking beer that’s too cold. Flavours in your beer are actually easier to perceive at a warmer temperature. The colder the beer, the less you’re going to be able to actually taste what you’re drinking. What a waste!
What’s the best temperature to drink beer?
Serving and drinking beers at their proper temperature can take some planning, but it is so worth it. Drinking beer at the temperature that the brewer intended it to be drunk at allows you to really taste all the flavour profiles in your beer. So, what temperature should you serve beer?
*Please note, these are only suggestions. Of course, we encourage you to drink your beer at whatever temperature your heart desires. However, if you’re interested in the actual suggested serving temperature of a specific beer, most breweries list this type of information on their websites.
Best Drinking Temperatures for Each Beer Style:
North American Macro & Light Lagers
Forget about everything you just read if you’re an avid macro lager drinker. These beers are actually meant to be served cold! Go ahead let your light lagers chill in the fridge because these brews are best served anywhere between 33 and 40° F (0.5-4° C).
Pilsners and pale lagers are also intended to be drunk quite cold. The sweet spot is usually around 38° F (3° C) to low-to-mid 40s. When it comes to hoppier and more flavourful lagers, like an India Pale Lager it is best to let your beer warm up slightly before sipping to get the full hop experience.
Blonde and Cream Ales are best served on the cold side as well. Like Pilsners and Pale Lagers, these light-bodied ales are best served at around 40° F (4° C).
To learn more about Blonde Ales, click here.
40-45° F (4-7° C) is the perfect temperature for these cloudy, refreshing, wheat brews. Hefeweizens can sometimes be served at warmer temperatures as their yeast and clove aromas usually are meant to be showcased.
Gose brews are often served cold, close to refrigerator temp, so the tart and refreshing notes can really come to the surface. The Gose flavours and aromas really shine at temperatures in the low 40s. For Lambics and other fruity beers, the flavours can be sweet or dry and extremely acidic or subtly citrusy. Try drinking these beers somewhere between 45-50° F (7-10° C) to get the perfect balance of flavours.
To learn more about Gose brews, click here.
Darker lagers are best served warmer than paler lagers. Take dark lagers out of the fridge early, and give them time to warm up slightly to optimize your tasting experience. Beer experts say to drink lagers like Märzen, Oktoberfest, Amber, and Vienna Lagers at around 45-50° F (7-10° C).
To learn more bout Amber, Red & Dark Lagers, click here.
Still drinking your beer straight from the bottle or can?
You should be drinking beer out of a glass and here’s why!
Because India Pale Ales vary so much depending on the brewer, we really don’t have a set temperature suggestion for them. Because of their intense favours it is best to drink them warmer than the temperature of your refrigerator. It is best to check with the brewery to see what they have intended, or experiment and see what temperature you like best! We think 50° F (10° C) is a safe place to start.
To learn more about IPAs, click here.
Pale Ales are typically medium-bodied brews that offer more flavour and hop character than some of the other styles listed above. When brewing American and English Pale Ales, brewers tend play around with malts, and fruit and citrus flavours. In order to take full advantage of these flavourful beers, you’re going to want to drink your American Pale Ale at around 45-50° F (7-10° C). Because English Pale Ales and Extra Special / Strong Bitters (ESB) are brewed with different types of yeasts, they tend to come out fuller-bodied and bolder. You should drink English Pale Ales and ESB closer to 55° F (12.5° C).
You can benefit by drinking darker German Lagers at a slightly warmer temperature. It is safe to stay around the low to mid 50s, although stronger beers are brewed to be served at 55-60° F (12.5-15.5° C).
Stouts, Porters, and Brown Ales can vary in temperatures. Stouts and Nitro Stouts thrive at around 50° F (10° C). This is the same for Porters and Brown Ales. It is best to stay warmer because if you drink these robust beers too cold, you’re probably missing out on a whole lot of flavours that the brewer intended for. Milk or Imperial Stouts should be served slightly warmer so that you can really taste all the flavours.
Because there are so many different beers that fall under the sour beer style category, there isn’t really a set temperature at which you should drink them. Like India Pale Ales, try experimenting to see at what temperature you get the most flavour out of your Sour Beer. Sours tend to be high in acidic flavours. If you’re not a fan of the acidity, a colder temperature would be best for you.
With malt and yeast forward brews like Dubbels and Quads, you’re going to want to drink them at higher temperatures. To really bring forward chocolate, toasty or even banana and fruit-like flavours, try sipping these beers in the low to mid-50s. Spicier brews, like Tripels, tend to be brewed with higher alcohol percentages and they come out tasting drier. Tripels can taste great at a lower temperature than the others, usually between 45-50° F (7-10° C).
Tips & tricks for the perfect beer temperature:
- Generally, the “boozier” the beer, the warmer you should drink it at. Make sure to check out the ABV% on your can or bottle!
- Josh Noel, from Chicago Tribune, says he often orders two beers a time. While he is sipping his first beer, the second beer has time to warm up to correct temperature.
- Wrapping your hands around your beer glass can provide instant heat to your beer to help it warm up before drinking.
- Don’t drink beer out of a frosted glass (unless you’re drinking Budweiser, Miller Lite, etc.)! Frosted beer glasses keep your beer ice cold the whole time you’re drinking your beer. This usually isn’t what the brewers intended for when brewing.
- Sometimes the region where the beer was brewed can give you an idea on what temperature you should drink your beer at. American-brewed beers tend to be served colder, while English-brewed beers are intended to be drank at warmer temperatures.
- Ray Daniels, founder of the Cicerone beer education program, says sticking a beer in the microwave for a quick 10 seconds can take the frosty edge off.