The Best Temperature for Beer is Not Always “Ice Cold”

When it comes to quenching your thirst on a hot day, few things compare with an ice cold beer. In fact, you are probably wondering why you would drink a beer any other way. But the truth is, not all beer is meant to be drunk lower than a certain temperature. Sure, it may be refreshing, but beer that is too cold can sacrifice flavor for chill. So, what is “too cold” for a beer? And what temperatures should we be drinking our brews for optimum enjoyment? As is the case with a lot of questions in craft brewing, the answer depends on the type of beer you’re talking about. Luckily, we’ve made a guide for you. You are so welcome. 

What Temperature is an Ice Cold Beer?

The term “ice cold” generally refers to beverages that are a few degrees above freezing temperature. For water, that number is 32 degrees fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius. Beer has a lower freezing point than water due to its alcohol content. It is generally around 28 degrees, though it will vary slightly according to ABV. 

That being said, beer is rarely, if ever, served below 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). So we will use this number as the baseline for “ice cold beer.”  

Beer Temperature Serving Guide

Range: 35–40°F (2–4°C)

Styles

Light lagers & macro brewed American lagers

Why?

These are the only beers that should ever really be served “ice cold.” They are the ballfield brews that exist solely for refreshment and inebriation. There is no subtlety or complexity to be had, so there is none to be lost by drinking at a very low temperature. 

Range: 40-45°F (4-7°C)

Styles

  • Pale lagers
  • Pilsners
  • Wheat beers
  • Kolsch

Why?

These beer styles are prized for their drinkability and crispness, with appreciable floral and citrus hints that make them uber refreshing. These notes stand up to colder temperatures without sacrificing taste and aroma. 

Craft beer with a red label and gold lettering
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Range: 45-50°F (7-10°C)

Styles

  • Amber lagers 
  • IPAs
  • Porters
  • Stouts

Why?

These styles feature strong malt and/or hops flavors and aromas, which are dulled when over-chilled. Hazy IPAs, with their delicate, fruity esters, are especially susceptible to flavor loss when served too cold. Cold temperatures can also dampen the effervescence associated with these types of beer. 

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Range: 50-55°F (10-13°C)

Styles

  • Belgian ales
  • Lambics
  • Sour beers 

Why?

Serving these types of beer at a slightly warmer temperature allows their unique characteristics to shine through and preserves their refreshing levels of carbonation. That being said, sour beer varies quite a lot (especially if it was brewed using a wild strain). Check with the brewer to verify the appropriate drinking temperature. 

Range: 55-60°F (13-16°C)

Styles 

  • Imperial stouts
  • Belgian strong ales
  • Barleywine

Why?

This range is also called “cellar temperature.” It is well-suited to darker beers with higher ABVs. When served too cold, the malt-forward flavors can turn bitter and unpleasant. 

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And Now…We Back-Pedal

Remember that these are not hard and fast rules about serving beer, just a guideline. The reason craft brewing is so fun is because it is flexible. So, while certain types of beer may generally best be served in a general temperature range, the ideal chill is really up to the one who lovingly crafted the beer in the first place. 

We don’t keep a yardstick behind the bar to slap the knuckles of anyone who doesn’t wait a minute to let their porter warm up…yet. But we love talking about our beers and the ways to best enjoy them. Stop by our place on Mariposa for a glass or to pick up some cans to take home. 

author avatar
Heather Kleinman

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