Beer Fact Friday: Beer Temperature
There’s nothing better than a cold beer in a frosty pint glass, right? WRONG, SIR OR MADAM. Contrary to the not-so-subliminal messaging in commercials about ice-covered beer trains and magic fridges that transport drinkers to Antarctica, colder isn’t always better for beer.
The main problem with drinking your beer ice-cold: Cool temperatures tend to suppress some of the flavors that make beer great. When you sniff or sip a beer, what you’re smelling and tasting are aroma compounds contained within the beer. Cold temperatures limit the volatilization of these compounds, making the beer more difficult to smell and taste. A normally flavorful beer will usually taste a bit bland and muted when served very cold.
Arctic temperatures can also enhance your perception of bitterness, dryness, and carbonation, dramatically changing the beer’s flavor. An IPA that’s fairly malty and balanced at proper serving temperatures may actually come across harsh and bitter when consumed ice-cold.
So, what are “proper serving temperatures?” It varies, but here are some generally accepted ranges for particular styles:
- Light Lagers: 33-40° F
- Pale Lagers & Pilsners: 38-45° F
- Dark Lagers: 45-50° F
- Pale Belgian Ales: 40-45° F
- Dark Belgian Ales: 50-55° F
- Wheat Beers: 40-50° F
- Pale Ales & IPAs: 45-50° F
- Stouts & Porters: 45-55° F
Despite the above, you’re still pretty likely to encounter too-cold pints when drinking out in the urban wild. Luckily, there’s an easy fix. Cup the glass in your hands for several seconds, or just let the beer sit and warm for a minute or two. You may be surprised by the difference a few degrees can make.
Beer Fact Friday is our weekly exploration of the topics that make beer the world’s most interesting beverage. Check back here next week—or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—for more fascinating beer trivia.