How to Properly Chill Beer

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale“Get your ice cold beer right here!”

I remember that from the Giants games I went to when I was a kid. Now, of course, you have to walk to get your beer at the stadium—I assume it is to keep people from drinking too much and making sure that people can at least still walk. But I still remember those wandering sellers pushing their iced cold beer.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered about that. If the water that comes out of your faucet doesn’t taste good, the thing to do is to create ice water. The colder a drink, the less of a taste it has. So what does it say that people sold “ice cold” beer? Does that mean the beer doesn’t taste very good? In a word: yes.

Last week, I had dinner with a neighbor and the only beer she had was Coors Light. I decided to take a can, because I’d never tasted it. And it wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t call it beer, though. And I can see why people like to drink it really really cold.

A good beer, however, should not be drunk really cold. Something like Arrogant Bastard is highly complex. If you drink it really cold, you miss its wonderful taste combination. I just came upon an article in The Kitchn (Yep, it’s spelled that way!), Why Chilling Your Beer Glass Isn’t a Waste of Time. Of course, that title is totally misleading. All they really mean is that using a chilled glass with a room temperature beer works perfectly for serving beer at the right temperature.

And what is that temperature? According to them, it is between 40°F and 55°F. Personally, I think it is better to get towards the high end of that scale. Beer as cold as 40°F makes for some tasteless beer. So chill your beer and put it in room temperature glass, or chill your glass and put room temperature beer in it.

Now if you like tasteless beer, buy your Coors Like, put it in your cold frig, and pour it into a frozen glass filled with ice cubes. Just don’t do it around me.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

1 thought on “How to Properly Chill Beer

  1. Many stadiums still have beer vendors. I don’t know why the Giants don’t.

    The regular Coors is almost drinkable. But of course Coors Light is the flagship brand. The off-brand Coors used to sell, Keystone Light, actually had a commercial pimping how other beers gave you "bitter beer face!" Might as well go for a wine cooler.

    There are two schools of thought among beer historians as to why tasteless beer gained in popularity. The older line held that big, generic brewers were the only ones large enough to survive Prohibition (by selling legal side products such as yeast for baking and malt extract for, well, malts.) Newer writing looks at how beer was marketed in the post-war era. Basically, tasteless beer appealed most to those who didn’t drink beer for the taste, as coffee with sugar and cream appeals to those who want the caffeine and not the coffee taste. A large part of making watery beer successful was making it appealing to women who didn’t normally like beer. AKA, watery beer is good for getting young women drunk enough to make a pass at.

    It’s been a long time since I had any big-brewery beer, but I do recall that the slightly more regional big breweries tended to have more character. For example Henry Weinhardt’s (Portland), Ballantine’s (New York), or Leinenkugel’s (Upper Midwest) instead of Bud/Miller/Coors (which are interchangeable.)

    In a pinch, when traveling through an area with zero local breweries (the Dakotas, for example) and finding myself unable to access anything besides a convenience store (in the Dakotas, for example), I’ll go with something Mexican. Stores only sell them because they have Mexican customers but those light lagers have more flavor than some.

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