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Let’s Talk….About The Temperature Of Your Beer by Ginger Johnson

Ginger Johnson of WEB Photo: Judy Pavlik

Ginger 2121Much to the contrary of an overwhelming popular belief, all beer should NOT be served Ice Cold. Just as you wouldn’t serve a fresh garden tomato cold because it kills the ethereal flavor of that tomato, serving many beers too cold is a detriment to your flavor opportunity.

When I see those signs or references in books to serving beer ‘ice cold’ I *cringe*! That poor beer, being super chilled so very little flavor is even detectable…what a shame!

Serving all beer cold is not the right thing, just as serving all beers warm isn’t the idea either. Some beers are best very chilly, some room temp, some in between. Find the Goldilocks – juuuuust right! Learning about beer and how temperature affects it is fun and helpful.

All beer should be stored cold, though not below freezing of course. Beer is a living organism. A large majority of beer brewed and served in America are unpasteurized: they’ve not been heat treated to sanitize the container and therefore killed the precious hard working yeast that helps give us beer. Here’s a good explanation by an industry authority.

Let’s run through a few beer + temperature concerns:

Ginger J1. Buying Beer. Optimally the beer you buy should have been kept cold from the time it was packaged and left the original brewery until it gets to you. Brewery, distributor and importer, retailer, and then you. Those retail outlets that don’t make the commitment to storing all their beer cold should be questioned. Would they leave the sour cream out? No – it’s the same concept. It’s alive, keep it cool. Quality begins to degrade when beer is left to a non-refrigerated environment and therefore flavor, oxidation, and all other nature of enemies start accelerated quality decline.

2. Storing Beer. Beer should be kept cold once you purchase it. Store it upright in a no light situation (UV from fluorescent as well as sunshine changes a chemical compound in hops in your beer, thereby ‘skunking’ it. Kegs, bottles, cans, growlers – all of them. Keep it at a normal fridge temp, being mindful that when you choose to serve certain beers letting some styles and flavors warm up a bit will greatly enhance the flavors.

3. Drinking Beer. There are literally dozens of beer styles – I like to explain that style indicates different flavor characteristics common in each particular style. While the rules aren’t absolutely hard and fast, there are guidelines to help you find the flavors you desire, hence beer styles. Here’s a very good resource on explaining beer styles to find flavors you wish to enjoy.  I’d encourage you to try different styles at various temperatures so see where you fully enjoy a particular kind of beer. It’s remarkably revelatory to taste beer at different temperatures.

Ginger JBearing in mind that temperature has both flavor and quality affects on your beer is something not everyone considers – and should. Once you start to think about this idea of ‘good health’ for your beer by watching temperature factors, it’ll give you a fresh perspective. And it’ll give that beloved beer the best opportunity to make you and your many taste buds happy.

Cheers til the next time –

g

Pairing Suggestion: Beer is infinitely versatile so this week simply try different beers, at different temperatures with different foods. If your Growers or Farmers market allows the sale of beer, buy some there on your next visit. Support your local brewery, just as you support your local farmers.

Event: Make up your own beer temperature event! Invite friends over, everyone bringing a different beer. Set out plenty of glassware, say 4 each (real glass – not plastic since that changes the flavor). Pour a portion of each person’s beer into the 4 glasses. Set a timer for 5 minutes. As soon as you set it, sip and taste the first pour, noting how it tastes, the carbonation of a fresh pour and so forth. When the 5 minutes goes off, taste the next one and so on until you’re out of that one beer. What did you notice? How did the flavors change, what happened with the carbonation and the foam of the beer?

Serving all beer cold is not the right thing, just as serving all beers warm isn’t the idea either. Some beers are best very chilly, some room temp, some in between. Find the Goldilocks – juuuuust right! Learning about beer and how temperature affects it is fun and helpful.

If you have questions about the beer industry, food pairings, speaking engagements and events, you can find Ginger at WomenEnjoyingBeer.com or Ginger@WomenEnjoyingBeer.com

About Basil & Salt Magazine (780 Articles)
Basil & Salt Magazine is filled with recipes, cocktails, wine, beer and travel recommendations, focusing on the enjoyment of the gourmet lifestyle. Our first issue will print and be distributed in September of this year. ~Please join us and poke the 'subscribe' button on the menu to receive exclusive content found only on our printed pages.

1 Comment on Let’s Talk….About The Temperature Of Your Beer by Ginger Johnson

  1. The more beers I try (and I try so so many of them!), the more I believe that the sign of a good beer is the ability to enjoy it even more as it warms up to room temperature, especially stuff like Sours, Saisons, Stouts, etc.. Drinking those cold totally kills the fantastic flavors.

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