The enjoyment of your beer – whether its regular strength of alcohol-free beer can be measurably increased with a few small changes to how you drink it. In this article, we’ll cover how the beer serving temperature makes a big difference to your enjoyment of your beer. When we drink beer at home we often overlook the proper serving temperature of beer and this can fundamentally affect the aromas and flavours of what we enjoyed so much in the pub. Here’s our guide to the best beer serving temperatures and some hints as to how you can make your alcohol-free beer drinking experience the best possible.
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Why does the temperature of beer matter?
An ice-cold beer on warm sunny day sounds like the perfect idea doesn’t it? And yes it is often a great thirst quencher, whether your beer is regular strength or your favourite alcohol-free lager. However, drinking your beer at the wrong temperature can mean that you’re missing out on what makes the beer great in the first place.
Serve your beer at the wrong temperature and it won’t taste as good as it might do.
What happens if beer is too cold?
When beer is served too cold, the cold masks many of the flavours and aromas of the beer by slowing the release of the aromatic compounds in the beer. When these aromas are not released it can dramatically change the aroma and flavour of the beer. So that thin, tasteless, lack of aroma that you get sometimes when you grab and can out of the fridge and pour it? It could be that your beer is too cold.
The cold will also enhance carbonation, dryness and bitterness. This can, to be fair, help that ice-cold beer to quench your thirst, but it doesn’t help the flavour.
What happens if beer is too warm?
A warmer beer will let the flavour and aroma of the beer out, but too warm and you’re likely to get decreased carbonation (so flat) and hops in beer will take on a bitterness.
Tips for Getting Your Beer to the Right Temperature
So what is the best temperature for beer then? What beer temperature delivers a beer that has the right aromas and flavours yet quenches the thirst and tastes as the brewer intended? The answer is that there’s not one single temperature that’s perfect for all. The right temperature for beer depends on the beer style, how it is brewed and also to a certain extent, personal taste.
If you’re a wine drinker you’ll understand the importance of getting your drink at the right temperature for the best experience. Beer is no different. If you’re serious about your beer (whether its alcohol-free or regular strength), then a separate beer fridge will deliver the optimum serving temperature for your beers. Otherwise, you can try some of our tips beer storage to ensures its as close to the perfect temperature for beer as you can get it. Here’s our guide to the best beer fridges for the UK.
Use our guide below for the type of beer to find what the best temperature for your beer is.
- Check with the brewer of your beer if there are any specific temperature recommendations
- Always store beer in a cool, dry, dark place
- Cans will generally store beer better than bottles as they stop ANY light from reaching the beer
- All beers should be served between 3 and 13 celsius
- Lager style beer is served colder than ales
- Weaker beer is served colder than stronger beer
- Beer that is lighter in colour is served colder than beer that is darker in colour
- If your only beer fridge is your regular fridge, then stand your beer at room temperature for a while if it is too cold.
- Most domestic fridges are set to 3-4 degrees Celsius with it being colder at the back and the bottom, so don’t store your beer at the back or bottom of the fridge
- Don’t try and artificially warm your beer.
- If you serve beer in a warm glass then it will affect the taste.
- If you hold your beer glass between sips, drinks and gulps then this will artificially warm the beer too
- If you can, invest in a specific beer fridge to maintain your beers at the right temperature.
What is the best beer serving temperature?
There are some general guidelines about what temperature beer should be served at depending on the style of beer it is. And when I’m talking about the style this also applies to the temperature guidance for alcohol-free beers and low-alcohol beers too.
Best serving temperature for Lager
Most draft lagers are served at between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius in a bar. And this is the best temperature for a lager style beer, between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius. So if you have a choice of where you’re going to put your lager in the fridge, then it can go to the bottom at the back! Our favourite alcohol-free lager is Lost AF from BrewDog.
Best serving temperature for Pilsners
Pilsner-style beers are best NOT drunk ice cold. If you want your pilsner full of flavour then you’ll want to drink it at between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius. The lowest it should be is 3.5 celsius, but this is going to be more thirst-quenching than flavour enhancing.
Best serving temperature for Wheat Beers
If you serve your wheat beer too cold, then it is likely that you’ll fail to release all the flavour wrapped up in these cloudy yeasty beers. A temperature of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius will help to maximize the flavour profile of wheat beers. Keep your hands off the glass in between drinks and it won’t warm up too much.
Best serving temperature for Pale Ales
Pale ales have an often complex strong, hoppy, malty flavour. You’ll want to serve pale ales at about 8 degrees Celsius as this will help to open up these complex flavours. If you don’t have a specific beer fridge, then we recommend either storing pale ale in a pantry, cellar or removing from your regular fridge a while before you want to drink it and letting it warm slightly (and slowly) at room temperature. Our favourite alcohol-free pale ale is from Infinite Session.
Best serving temperature for IPAs
The hops in an IPA (India Pale Ale) are what make it. The aromas and flavours that are intensified if you get them in the right glass, will disappear completely if you serve it too cold. If your IPA is too cold, then you’ll want to let it warm up slowly (before you open the can or bottle). Unless your brewer indicates otherwise, the best temperature to serve IPA at is 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. IPAs and Pale Ales have a similar brewing process, with IPAs tending to have more hops than pales, the aroma and flavour of hops intensify with a warmer temperature. We love the Punk AF IPA from BrewDog.
Best serving temperature for dark ales and stouts
The more full-bodied the beer the better it is at a warmer temperature. This is a general rule that the warmer the beer the more flavours are exposed. Stouts and darker ales tend to be packed with rich complex flavours and are therefore better enjoyed at warmer temperatures of 12-14 degrees Celsius. We can’t wait until Guiness 0.0% is back on the market!
How to Test what Difference Temperature Makes to Your Beer
While we can give these guidelines for the best beer temperatures, and you can also check out the guidelines of your favourite brewers, personal taste also comes into it. The best way to see what temperature to drink your favourite beer at is to set up a beer temperature taste test. Here’s how.
- Take two cans of your favourite beer. We used Infinite Sessions IPA
- Chill them the fridge.
- 30 minutes or so before your temperature test remove one can from the fridge and allow it to warm naturally at room temperature, this should get it to between 6-8 degrees Celsius.
- Leave the other can in the fridge until you are ready for the temperature taste test.
- Pour both cans into the right shaped glass. For an IPA this is a tulip-shaped glass, which helps to enhance the aromas and flavours.
- See what differences you can identify in the
- Rinse the glass and repeat. After all, if you’re drinking alcohol-free beer, this could go on a while with no hangover tomorrow!
Our experience of doing this with Infinite Session IPA was that when the beer was straight out of the fridge it had no aroma and a very thin taste, if this had been my first experience of the beer I would NOT have drunk it again. Left at room temperature for 30 minutes and the hoppy aroma and fuller flavour came out.
Final Words on the Best Temperature For Serving Beer
We hope that you’ve found this guide to the best beer serving temperature useful. There are several ways in which you can enhance the aroma and taste of your beer – store it right, pour it in the right glass and serve it at the right temperature. We hope that our guide on the different types of beer and their related optimum temperature improves your beer drinking experience, whether your beer has alcohol in or not!