Some beers are better warm. Some beers are better cold. Then there are the beers that are better when they are 9 days old, no matter what the temperature.
Each type of beer has its advocates and critics. The bottom line with beer and proper temperature, however, is this: there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every beer is a little different.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you want to drink a naturally cold beer at room temperature or a naturally warm beer when it is ice cold. There are some general guidelines that are worth following when examining the proper temperature for beer.
- Light Lagers. This is your mass-market type of beer. Think Budweiser, Corona, and Miller. These beers should be kept just above freezing, around 33-40F.
- Pilsners, Helles, and Wheat Beers. These beers benefit from a little extra warmth, but should still be on the cold side. Keeping them around 40F will maximize their flavor. You can go a touch warmer if you prefer, but keep it below 45F.
- IPAs, American Ales, and Porters. These should be closer to the mid-range between room temperature and freezing. They’re best around 50F, but you can go a little colder if that is what you personally prefer.
- Most stouts should be served around 50F. Imperial stouts are the exception to the rule, as they are better at 60F. Many stouts age well at this temperature range, so consider letting a few sit for a few months to develop deeper, more complex flavors.
- Sours, Bocks, Bitters, and European Ales. These beers tend to need warmer temperatures. A good range for them is 50-55F. You can go a little warmer on the bitters if you wish, or a little cooler on the ales. Colder sours, however, tend to dampen the natural flavor profile.
If you’re not sure about what temperature your beer should be at because you don’t know what type of beer you’ve got (it happens more than one might think), then look to the alcohol content of the beverage.
Beers that have lower alcohol content tend to taste better chilled. Beers with higher alcohol content should be served closer to room temperature. Anything below 5% should be cold. Anything above 9% should probably be warm. Between those two options, settle for somewhere between 40-50F and you should be okay.
With that said, some people prefer their warm beers cold and their cold beers warm. Don’t let anyone say that you’re wrong. Beer is about personal preferences. Just because someone disagrees with your temperature preference doesn’t mean you need to change. You have the right to change all of the recommendations listed above at any time to meet your needs.
What is the proper temperature for beer? The answer to that depends on what you tend to enjoy. Just remember: beer can freeze. If you stick a beer in the freezer to cool it quickly, don’t forget it is there.
And if you need a good place to store your beer so it can achieve the proper temperature, make sure you have a great beer fridge at the ready.