Generally speaking the ideal serving or drinking temperature for beer is derived from its method of fermentation. Bottom fermented beers, like lager or pilsner, tend to be best served cold, whereas top fermented beers, such as ale and stouts, are better slightly warmer. This much seems to be written into our DNA, and of course much is left to personal preference. Another quick guide that may help is the color of the beer: many enthusiasts indicate that lighter (in color) beers are best enjoyed cold and the darker the beer the higher the serving temperature should be. Stout for instance can best be enjoyed at 11 – 13°C, and like red wine, should really be served in a goblet. Likewise lager’s flavours are best enjoyed at 2 – 7° C and should be served in tall glasses (tall, thin glasses reduce the amount of heat able to be gained by the drink).
We’ve put together a short guide to assist you in selecting the right drinking temperature, storage and glass for your favorite beverage!
Ice Cold – 0 to 4°C
We’ve read online that your should drink anything you do not want to taste below 4°C – and that sums it up quite nicely! You sense of taste is dulled at these temperatures – which includes the ideal drinking range of pale lagers and mass produced beers that are sold on being served ice-cold from the tap or fridge. Low or no-alcohol beers should be served near freezing to. Do get us wrong, its not that these beers are bad at these low temperatures – it just they are terrible when warmer! Serve in original can or bottle from ice.
Chilled – 3 to 5°C
Just above these, sitting in the range of 3 – 5°C, are the many of new breed of blond and low carb beers/light beers. Again, the flavors of these drinks when warmer are not ideal, so you’ll want to keep them below 10°C for as long as you can. Serve in original can or bottle from low in a refrigerator. Can also be served in a chilled, tall, thin glass.
Cold – 4 to 7°C
In this range sits a lot of a our favorite beers, including those from many craft breweries that are springing up all over the USA. European inspired local brews and imports such as Hefeweizen/Weiβier, Kölsch, premium lagers, pilsners are delicious at this temperature – and the paler Belgium monastic brews: fruit beers, golden ales and Duvels are perfect too. The newer breed of ciders, arguably the best summer refresher available, are served colder than traditional ciders from the ‘West Country’. Store in refrigerator and serve in original can or bottle or pour into glass or pot.
Cool – 7 to 11°C
The optimal temperature range to enjoy the slightly warmer colored beers: amber ales, reds and American pale ale. Rich, flavorsome beers like golden ales and fruit lambics are best cool as well as are some ‘light’ stouts and porters and a good number or European styles and imports such as Bohemian pilsners, Dunkel (Dark), Schwarzbier (black beer) and Dortmunder/Helles types. Store high in refrigerator, pour into an attractive glass (if room temperature, the glass will bring the liquor up to the right spot). If using original bottle, just leave for three to five minutes out of refrigerator before opening.
Cellar – 12 to 14°C
Deriving from the temperature that ale is served from an English pub, this temperature range is the best way to enjoy many of the darker, but not opaque, beers. Pale ales, English bitters and milds should not be drunk cold as this smothers those beautiful floral scents and flavors that choice hops from all around the world are famous for. Also in this temperature range are the brown ales and the very bitter, but extremely aromatic India Pale Ales (IPA). Rather that being served over iced to kill the tart flavors, a real English cider should be served above that to savor the apple aromas and complex, sweet subtleties of the brewed liquor. If you do not have a cellar, store these drinks on high shelf in a refrigerator pour into wide glass, small goblet or jug. Leave for a few minutes to warm just slightly.
Warm – 14 to 16°C
Ideally a dark beer such as a rich stout, Imperial stout or barley wine should be kept in a cool storage larder or cupboard (or if lucky enough, a cellar). These types of beers often have flavors such as chocolate, coffee and honeycomb that are completely covered at low temperature and come to life when warmer. Other complex beers such as Double IPA and winter ales from Europe also benefit from being consumed at these warmer temperatures. A good dark beer should be savored and experienced much like a good red wine: store in cool place, pour into wide goblet and enjoy.
Tips to keep your cold beer colder for longer
If you like your beer ice cold out of the cool box, or enjoy beers that are ideally consumed between 2 – 7°C you really only have two choices: drink really quickly or use an insulating device to stop the drink warming too fast! Research into the performance of beer Koozies shows even at 25°C an uninsulated beer in a can rises from 2°C to 11°C in just twelve minutes. One that has been wrapped with EVA insulation only 4mm thick will not reach this temperature until at least another 15 minutes later – that is more than twice the time to enjoy the drink as the brewer intended – and by this time the first, warmer beer is out of the range of even the beers that should be consumed at the higher temperatures!
If the beer is stood in the sunlight on a 30°C day, the warming is even more rapid! In this scenario an uninsulated beverage gets into the warmer ranges (more than 11°C) in less than nine minutes – by the time 30 minutes is up the drink is nearly 25°C!! Conversely one that is insulated will be still just within the drinkable range!
All in all, our advice to cold beer lovers all over the world is, if you want to extend the drinkable time for your favorite beer, try using a Koozie, they definitely work! In addition, if you are drinking outside try and use a canned beer if possible and keep them both, the drink and the Koozie, out of the sun!