Hey, it’s 2010! And what better time to start drinking beer properly. No, really. There are as many crazy “rules” to both serving and drinking beer as there is to wine. And to start you off, here is a basic one:
Two common misconceptions about beer: It is supposed to be cold, and British pubs serve warm beer. Both are categorically wrong, and the one single truth lies somewhere in between. The only reason you’d want ice cold beer is to kill the flavor of it, which is great if you drink PBR, but otherwise… As for the second misconception, British pubs often serve the beer at the correct temperatures, which might be why it feels warm to some people. Yet it’s not warm per se, just warmer than a frosted glass. Really, you don’t want a frosted glass.*
As for the temperatures, here are some general guidelines, courtesy of Realbeer.com:
- Serve fruit beers at 40-50 ? F.
- Serve wheat beers and pale lagers at 45-50 ? F.
- Serve pale ales and amber or dark lagers at 50-55 ? F.
- Serve strong ales, such as barley wines and Belgian ales, at 50-55 ? F.
- Serve dark ales, including porters and stouts, at 55-60 ? F.
These are obviously just very general, and you can read a bit more about it over at Wikipedia. Some breweries, like Nøgne Ø, put the suggested temperature on the bottle.
For the most part it is, of course, impossible to get the serving temperature perfect, but if you can get it close… Well, your tasting experience will be that much better.
*C.I. Shenanigan’s strangely enough serve their brews in frosted glasses. Why?! Show some pride in your own product.