Sunday, 10 April 2011

Blowing hot and cold

A problem with drinking bottled ales at home is getting them at the right temperature. Ideally, ales are meant to be served at around 10-12°C (50-55°F), which equates to a natural cellar temperature, but certainly isn’t fridge-cold. But that can be very difficult to recreate in the home, especially in the summer, something that the recent warm spell has underlined. Room temperature is much too warm, but if you put the bottles in the fridge for too long, they get lager-cold and lose much of their appeal. Ideally, you need to put them in the fridge for 60-90 minutes, but that demands a lot of forward planning.

The other day I drank a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale which had been in the fridge too long, and the flavour didn’t really come out until I got near the bottom of the glass. Maybe this is the kind of rich, malty beer that most loses character from being too cold, but even so it wouldn’t be right at room temperature. Is this a deterrent to ale drinking at home? Should fridges maybe be equipped with a “cellar cool” section maintaining 50°F?


  1. I also have found this issue to come into new relevance in the recent weather. My usual solution is to put the bottles in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before drinking. I find this chills them enough and is not too long to wait.

  2. I bought a mini cask of Adnams Extra yesterday and have placed it in our bathroom. Keeps it at a great temperature and no sunlight

  3. I have 2 fridges, one for beer and the other for the rest of the food. Beer fridge kept at 8C. Before tasting bottle is brought out 20 minutes beforehand and allowed to slightly warm up before being decanted into a jug and poured into a glass. Digital thermometer used to make sure optimum temperature for tasting is reached. Beer drank from a freshly rinsed brandy glass next to laptop to write notes about it.

    Though tonight just grabbed first bottle I came to straight from the fridge and it turned out to be the spicy 6% Ale Mary from RCH. Excellent chilled as the ginger and cloves still come through!

  4. That's why I got one of these. :P :) Needs a bit of work though...

  5. Isn't the easy solution to leave beers in the fridge and take them out 10 minutes before you want to drink them if you don't like it fridge-cold?

    I'm quite happy drinking all beers at the temperature they leave the fridge and most I prefer to be colder than cellar temperature (unless it's something big and dark), but that's just how I like it.

  6. Luckily my beer cupboard pretty much maintains perfection; but i'm not saying that I wouldnt be interested in a cellar-cool section in the fridge. Get on Dragon's Den, lad.

  7. Am with wowninjas on this. Before each taste test I sling them (carefully and lovingly) into the freezer for a short spell. It can have an odd effect, though, on bottle-conditioned beers - the live yeast seems to object strongly to the idea and this can produce a certain hyperactivity during the pour.

    Yet again, the bottle-conditioned ales come with their own set of complex rules of use. Snore!


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