Beer is a lot more temperamental than you may think. The right glass wear, and the right temperature are critical to ensuring you get the most out of your pint. Just like Goldilocks, beer has to be juuuuust right for that perfect pour.
Before we jump into what the right temperatures are for which beer styles, it’s important to understand why this is a critical component. While marketing may have you believe that beer should be “Ice Cold”, a colder temperature can be detrimental to the experience. The biggest issue with beer served too cold is the way the temperature masks many flavors and aromas. Cold temperatures slows the volatilization of aromatic compounds causing them to linger in the beer. By not releasing these compounds, it dramatically changes the flavor and aroma of the beer, sometimes to the point where it may come across as thin and tasteless. This is actually a positive for macro-beer producers who don’t have much flavour to fall back on, so the ice cold refreshment is the selling point.
Warm beer, on the other hand, allows for more flavors and aromas to come to the forefront, but as beer approaches room temperature the sensations from hop bitterness and carbonation can decrease, which can lead to an almost flat-tasting experience. Plus, warm beer just isn’t an enjoyable experience.
So with that out of the way, here are the optimal temperatures for serving different beer, according to the American Homebrewers Association.
AMERICAN MACRO LAGERS
As previously mentioned, the selling point here is refreshment, not taste. Go cold — anywhere in the 33- to 40-degree Fahrenheit range is suitable. This is around your average refrigerator temperature, with 33 degrees being near freezing.
PALE LAGERS / PILSNERS
For lagers and pilsners, 38 degrees should be the lowest point. Anywhere up to 45 degrees is acceptable, with hoppier beers benefitting from the warmer temperature.
CREAM & BLONDE ALES
As with pilsners, cream and blonde ales benefit from a temperature between 40 to 45 degrees which helps bring out their light body and grains.
For the most part, these cloudy, yeasty brews are best served between 40 and 50 degrees. With a hefeweizen, which has heavy yeast-driven banana and clove aromas, closer to the 50 degree mark is best.
AMERICAN PALE ALES & IPAS
Welcome to the zone that can swing wildly depending on the individual characteristic of the beer. A general rule of thumb is to serve an APA or IPA around the 45 to 50 mark, but depending on the beer’s balance, alcohol level, and hop composition, it could rage as high as 55.
BELGIAN PALE ALE & ABBEY TRIPELS
Belgian pale ales and tripels are slightly different than their dubbel and quad cousins. These beers tend to be bottle conditioned and as such, work better around the 40 to 45 degree mark.
BELGIAN DUBBELS & QUADS
These big boozy Beligans have a lot going for them, and a warmer temperature is certainly going to help bring out the flavour. Dubbels and Quads benefit from this warmest temperatures of the bunch, ranging from 50 to 55 degrees.
Dark lagers, because of the variant properties from general lagers, require a little warmer temperature to help bring out the malt flavour. Rather than serving in the high 30’s/low 40’s these instead should be around 45 to 50.
Conversely, nitro stouts because of the nitro infusion, should be served slightly cooler than a general stout or porter. Nitro stouts benefit from the 40 to 45 range.
STOUTS & PORTERS
When dealing with a porter or stout, a warmer pour is going to help bring out the robust elements like coffee, chocolate and oatmeal. Between 45 and 50 is best, but something like an imperial stout or porter will benefit from even warmer temperatures.
LAMBICS & SOURS
Lambics and sours come in a wide range of forms, so too are the temperature recommendations. For something like a Gose, a lower temperature around 40 makes sense; while lambics with strong fruit notes tend to sit somewhere in the 45 to 50 range. When it comes to sours, the warmer the temperature, the more of the funk flavour is going to come through, so a cooler temperature is going to subdue some of that oomph. It’s really up to the drinkers preference of sour power.
Finally, cask ales due to their lower carbonation should also be served fairly warm. Somewhere in the range of 50 to 55 will help bring out more of the subtle flavours being achieved through this process.