One of the finer points of beer enjoyment that’s too often overlooked is proper serving temperature. Serving beers at their proper temperature may take a little extra effort or planning, but the rewards are significant. Drinking beer at the proper temperature allows you to really taste the beer.

Quality beers shouldn’t be served colder than 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are some general temperature guidelines for different beers:

  • Serve most premium lagers between 42 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit (6 to 9 degrees Celsius) and quality ales between 44 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 11 degrees Celsius).

  • Serve authentic Stouts as warm as 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), which is British cellar temperature.

  • Serve some high-gravity Barleywines, Old Ales, and barrel-aged Stouts only very lightly chilled or at room temperature, like a snifter of brandy.

In the United States, most beers are served much too cold for serious appreciation. In fact, ice-cold temperatures ruin the flavor of good beer. The average refrigerator is set to keep food and drinks chilled at around 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 4 degrees Celsius), but serving beers at this temperature has several negatives, including the following:

  • The colder the beer, the less carbonation is released; the less carbonation that’s released, the less aroma the beer gives off.

  • The palate is numbed to the point that it can’t discern many of the beer’s flavor nuances. (So this explains why some beers are best served just above the freezing mark!) Why bother drinking a beer if you can’t taste it? May as well have a Slurpee.

Cold temperatures = less carbonation released = less aroma = less taste = why bother? Save the really cold temps for lawnmower beer — the kind you chug down after mowing the lawn (taste? who cares?).

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Marty Nachel is a beer educator, an award-winning homebrewer, a BJCP Certified Beer Judge, on the panel of professional beer judges at the Great American Beer Festival, and a former beer evaluator at the Beverage Testing Institute. He is also the founder and administrator of the Ale-Conner Beer Certification Program.

Steve Ettlinger is the author of seven books, most of which are about food and food-related subjects. His most recent is Twinkie, Deconstructed.

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