Temperature’s Effect on Beer

When it comes to beer, it’s not always a case of ‘the colder the better’. Beers being either too hot, or too cold, can have knock on affects. Continue reading to discover the effects that different serving temperatures can have on beers!

Too Cold

Chilling beer below ideal serving temperatures enhances some qualities of beer, while masking others. Sure, anything ice-cold is going to come across as refreshing on a hot day, but beer is to be enjoyed for its flavour.

The biggest issue with beer served too cold is the way the temperature masks many flavours and aromas. The cold temperature slows the volatilization of aromatic compounds causing them to linger in the beer. When these compounds are not released, it dramatically changes the apparent flavour and aroma of the beer, sometimes to the point where it may come across as thin and tasteless.

The cold also enhances qualities like bitterness, dryness and carbonation, which can enhance the “quench” quality, but if paired with a “thin, tasteless” beer can make for a very unpleasant drinking experience with harsh texture.

Too Hot

Warm beer, on the other hand, does allow for more of the flavors and aromas to come to the forefront. However, as beer approaches room temperature the sensations from hop bitterness and carbonation can decrease. This can lead to an almost flat-tasting experience.

It’s also usually pretty obvious you don’t want to drink too warm a beer.

Just Right: Suggested Beer Serving Temperatures

So…the million dollar question: what is the proper serving temperature for beer?  You want it to be refreshing and thirst-quenching while still allowing you to enjoy the bouquet of flavour that makes drinking high quality beer so great!

Unfortunately, there’s not one temperature that is perfect for all beers, but instead it depends on the beer style, brewing process and a little bit of tradition. However, using a few rules basic rules, along with the handy table below, you can make informed decisions on the temperature to serve your next beer. Remember, these are general suggestions and some styles may bend the rules a bit!

General Serving Temperature Rules:

  • All beers should be served between 38-55° F.
  • Lagers are served colder than ales.
  • Stronger beers are served warmer than weaker beers.
  • Darker beers are served warmer than lighter beers.
  • Macro lagers are served as cold as the Rockies.
  • Serve beers a few degrees colder than the target temperature, to accommodate for warming from the glass and the drinker’s hands.
Beer  Suggested Temperature
American Mainstream Light Lagers 1° -4°C
Pale Lagers, Pilsners 3° – 7° C
Cream & Blonde Ales 4° – 7° C
Nitro Stouts 4° – 7° C
Belgian Pale Ales, Abbey Tripels 4° – 7° C
Wheat Beers 4° – 10° C
Lambics 4° – 10° C
Dark Lagers 7° – 10° C
American Pale Ales & IPAs 7° – 10° C
Stouts, Porters 7° – 12° C
Strong Lagers 10° – 12° C
Real & Cask Ales 10° – 12° C
Belgian Dubbels 10° – 12° C
Sources:
Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher
Home Brewers Association