Some Like it Cold, A Discussion About Proper Beer Temperature

Posted on June 15th, 2009

thermometerIce Cold. It’s the way we’ve been taught to drink beer for years by commercial after commercial of icy mountains over flowing with ice cold beer, women in bikinis, and what looks to be refreshment. It’s true, when the sun is beating down on you on a blistering summer day, few things can cool you off like an icy beverage. If however you’re looking for something more from your beer beyond it’s temperature, something like taste, you might want to try letting you beer warm up a bit to a cool, not ice cold temperature.

Why? Because ice cold beer numbs your taste buds and doesn’t allow the beer to develop its full flavor potential. Ice cold anything numbs your taste buds, just like it will with any part of your body, that’s just what ice does. Drinking your beer at ice cold temperatures may be a great way to cool off but it’s also a great way to keep from fully tasting your beer.

Although the optimal temperature for each style of beer varies, a safe bet is to drink your beer when it’s slightly below room temperature, say around 50 to 60 degrees. This will ensure maximum sensation for your tongue and maximum enjoyment for you.

Don’t have a thermometer handy? Just set your beer on the counter for a few minutes after taking it out from the fridge and if you at a bar, avoid chilled glasses.

If you want to get more precise with the proper temperature from one style to another, there is a handy chart from Real Beer for the details.

  • Fruit beers at 40-50° F.
  • Wheat beers and pale lagers at 45-50° F.
  • Pale ales and amber or dark lagers at 50-55° F.
  • Strong ales, such as barley wines and Belgian ales, at 50-55° F.
  • Dark ales, including porters and stouts, at 55-60° F.

As they suggest, the stronger the brew the closer to 60° degrees you want your beer to be.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “but I’ve tried warm beer before, it tasted gross.” You’re right, it probably was gross, especially if it was a light lager like Coors Light or Bud Light. Unfortunately here in America many major brewers put a premium on value over quality, which means they count on you never getting a proper taste of their light lagers. Beyond that though, the lower the alcohol in the beer the lower the temperature should and many light beers tend to be relatively light in the alcohol as well compared to many craft brews.