B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Cold Beer Not a Virtue

with 2 comments

I was looking at a guide to Vancouver pubs and lounges last night and noticed it was peppered with references to cold beer, as if that were somehow a virtue. Unfortunately, that is a misguided holdover from the B.C.’s Dark Ages when you could only get macro lager. I remember my father putting ceramic mugs in his freezer during the summer and inviting his friends over for “the coldest beer in town” at the end of the day. He was proud.

Sorry, Dad, but the beer isn’t necessarily good just because it’s cold. When a beer is too cold, it actually masks the taste, which is what purveyors of macro lager want so your judgment of what you are drinking is impaired. Thus, it goes down as easy as water — the easier for you to tolerate drinking more.

To get the best measure of a beer, it should be consumed at a temperature appropriate to its style. That doesn’t mean that English-style ales should be served “warm” at room temperature. Room temperature is 21°C/70°F, which is too warm; you should drink them between 12-14°C/54-57°F.

Unfortunately, pubs in B.C. almost universally serve ales too cold, thereby robbing you of much of their flavour. For them to serve chilled ale in chilled glasses is a gross disservice. If you order a beer that should be served at cellar temperature and see a bartender reaching into a fridge for a glass, politely ask them for an unchilled glass. The ale will undoubtedly still be too cold out of the tap, but it will warm to the proper temperature faster with a little hand-holding.

Rate Beer has a good reference to beer serving temperatures for various styles that I recommend you peruse. If you aren’t currently cognisant of proper serving temperature, your beer-drinking experience should noticeably improve as a result. Perhaps with time, publicans will be persuaded not only to serve beer at the proper temperature but also in the proper glass. I’ll leave the latter for another post.

Written by BCbrews

September 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Posted in beer, culture

Tagged with , , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. The beer temperature thing is a tough one. Cellar temp storage areas are not an easy thing to achieve without pots & pots of cash. I’m finding out the hard way. I’ve been looking to introduce permanent cask at the Alibi for months now, but don’t want to compromise the beer quality by serving at the wrong temperature, but the hardware (beer engines included) is very hard to come by. (Not to mention the physical space a cask cellar would take up.)

    A lot of our serious beer customers make sure they always have an extra glass from the previous pint on hand, order well in advance, and pour a little into the extra glass just to raise the temp that couple of extra degrees where the flavours and aromas start to flow.


    Nigel Springthorpe

    September 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm

  2. The follow up to Nigel’s comment is that he now has 3 beer engines flowing steady. The Irish Heather has one as well. Both places are often packed. The lesson to be learned is?


    December 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

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