A few customers have recently asked me about temperature – how cold they should store their beers, and how cold (or warm) they should serve them. The answer is that it depends on the style of the beer and (of course) on your own preferences…
Let’s talk about storage first, because that is pretty simple. Beers stored at warm temperatures degrade more quickly than beers stored at cold temperatures, and lots of temperature fluctuations (warming, cooling, warming again) aren’t good for the beer either. Beer will taste ‘old’ more quickly if it is stored warm – so we’d recommend that you keep your beers in the fridge.
But serving temperature is a little more interesting. The temperature of what you are drinking affects the drink itself (how much carbonation, the level and range of aromas that the drink gives off, etc.), but our tastebuds also react differently to things like bitterness at different temperatures. Some beers – like most mass-market lagers – are marketed to be served ‘ice cold’, but these tend to be beers without much flavour anyway. Beers that have lots of interesting fruity or spicy aromas might only release those flavours at warmer temps.
So as a general rule of thumb, if you have a beer which is more full-bodied, darker, complex or high in alcohol, you may want to serve it at a higher temperature than a beer which is lighter or lower-alcohol. In terms of temperature, that might look something like the following table:
|2 – 4°C||Mass market lager|
|4 – 7°C||Pilsners, Helles, wheat beers – Suntrap|
|7 – 10°C||IPAs, Pale Ales and some bitters, Porters and Stouts – Narrowboat, New Shoots, Cockleroi, Sloe Road, Nectar|
|10 – 13°C||Belgian Ales, Cask bitters, Malty Scottish ales, Sours – Farmhouse (coming soon)|
|13 – 16°C||Imperial strength ales, Barleywines etc.|
A quick google says that the ideal fridge temperature is 3-5°C. So as you can see from the above, we’d recommend that you drink Suntrap straight out of the fridge, but most of our beers might be best a couple of degrees warmer than that.
Personally, I tend to take most of my beers out of the fridge about 30mins before opening them. The most important thing of course, is what you prefer! Have an experiment with a couple of beers and see what difference temperature can make to your tastebuds.