• You’re drinking your beer too cold — and here’s why

     

    I have a drinking problem, and it makes me order two beers at a time in bars and restaurants.

    My problem is this: We drink our beer too cold, America.

    Beer typically flows from taps and your fridge at a frigid 38 degrees, an ideal temperature for the mass-produced brews designed to be refreshingly easy to drink while obscuring the cost-saving ingredients within.

    But for beers aspiring to some degree of nuance — arguably the definition of craft beer — 38 degrees is the equivalent of plastic wrap around a Kandinsky: It obscures all the beauty within. Sipped too cold, most craft beer is a shadow of what its maker intends, with layers of flavor lost to a palate-chilling cold.

    The ideal minimum temperature for most craft beer is in the low to mid-40s. For hearty yeast or hop-forward ales, a bit warmer. For even more adventurous styles, such as lambics or imperial stouts infused with flavors of oak, bourbon, chocolate, coffee or vanilla, warmer still — arguably as high as the upper 50s. When trying to meld an array of intricate flavors by pairing beer and food, proper temperature becomes even more important.

    In the best bars, I therefore often order two (or more!) beers at a time: one that doesn’t mind the cold to sip immediately and one that’s higher alcohol, more complex and best served by 20 minutes of slowly warming. A double order sometimes furrows the brow of a bartender or companion — as if my drinking problem is far more serious — but of all the factors that influence beer taste, temperature is one of the easiest for a drinker to control. And so I do.

    The idea of “cold beer” remains intact as ever, thanks mostly to the millions spent by Bud, Miller and Coors to show us slow-motion pulls of glistening bottles from teeming buckets of ice. It reaches in every direction, from the innocuous (bars proudly trumpeting their “cold beer”) to the egregious (bars serving beer in chilled or — heaven forfend — frosted glasses). Though to be fair, sometimes, cold is exactly what a beer requires.

    “If I’m drinking a High Life, I want it to be cold because I don’t want to taste it,” says Gary Valentine, a beer consultant and educator, who has worked on the beer lists at Girl and the Goat and Little Goat in Chicago, among other restaurants. “Otherwise, if you have a beer you want to taste, it should be above at least 43 degrees.”

    That means being a proactive beer drinker: dual ordering in a bar or restaurant. If served a beer in a chilled or frosted glass, requesting a room temperature glass and making a careful transfer. At home, pulling a beer from the refrigerator for 10 minutes to an hour before opening it. Or, if you’re Ray Daniels, founder of the Cicerone beer education program, sticking a beer in the microwave.

    “Ten seconds takes that frosty edge off,” Daniels says. “I used to do it pretty regularly.”

    The Cicerone program, which has certified the beer knowledge of 50,000 people worldwide, spends ample time discussing beer style, storage, tap line maintenance and glassware but relatively little time on temperature “because of the practical challenges for making that happen and because there are so many other dragons to slay,” Daniels says. But as a consumer, he is acutely aware.

    “It has a big influence on your perception of flavor,” he says. “That’s undeniable.”

    Though Daniels no longer microwaves his beer — “I’m not that impatient anymore” — he does make a habit of wrapping his hands around a fresh-from-the-tap beer to warm the glass before taking a sip.

    The issue is a beer’s volatile organic compounds; bad for smelling when it comes to paints and cleaning products, VOCs are everything to beer, releasing the aroma and flavor (which combine to create “taste”) as they warm.

    “So much of our sense of taste is in the sense of smell,” Daniels says. “In order to stimulate the olfactory nerves, you have to have volatile compounds enter the nasal passage and into the throat. If beer is too cold, it will release less aromatics.”

    Daniels suggested an experiment: In identical glasses, pour a straight-from-the-refrigerator beer alongside a bottle that spent 20 minutes warming on the counter. Drink side by side. Voila — the joys of not-too-cold beer.

    So then why don’t bars and restaurants serve beer warmer? Practical concerns, mostly. Tap systems are standardized at 38 degrees for two reasons: It’s a temperature that keeps beer fresh and allows for easy troubleshooting when tap systems go awry with foaming issues.

    “If everyone ran at a different temperature of their own choosing, then it would be really hard to ensure proper beer quality,” Daniels says.

    That doesn’t mean breweries and bars aren’t trying to do their part. Jerry’s restaurant and bar, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, has considered serving barrel-aged stouts at room temperature, or storing them at room temperature and chilling them when ordered to about 50 degrees.

    “But it takes less time to go from 38 to 50 than down from 70 to 50,” says Chris Coons, who recently left a job as beer buyer for Jerry’s to work for a beer distributor. “If I’m opening a barrel-aged stout at home that’s been stored at room temperature, I’ll put it in the fridge for about an hour to cool it to about 50.”

    He called it “a signature beer geek move.”

    “The general public isn’t getting into beer temperature,” says Coons at the bar one afternoon. “But they should be.”

    Jerry’s general manager, Trey Elder, who spent 10 years working at three different Chicago coffee companies, chimed in: “Any extreme temperature, cold or hot, will mask flavor. At room temperature you’ll taste everything. When coffee is really hot, you won’t be able to taste that much. Coffees that are really amazing, you taste what’s amazing as they cool.”

    Or in the case of beer, as it warms. The more complex the ingredients, the truer it is. At Moody Tongue Brewing Co., for instance, brewer and owner Jared Rouben focuses exclusively on food-driven beers — Sliced Nectarine IPA, Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter and Dehydrated Tangerine Cacao Wheat are three recent releases.

    On more than one occasion I’ve had a Moody Tongue beer at tap temperature and thought, “Eh — this is pretty good.” Twenty minutes later, the sentiment has usually changed to full-on “wow” as the complexity of the fresh ingredients emerged.

    Rouben professed no offense when I told him as much, and agreed that his beers are best between about 42 and 55 degrees. That belief is what led him to pick a peculiar shape as the branded Moody Tongue glass used in bars — the 15 1/2-ounce Napoli grande, which, based on its design, steers a drinker toward wrapping a hand around the glass’ narrow base, which slowly warms the beer.

    “In beautiful beers, all it does is open up layers,” Rouben said. “That said, I would encourage people to drink a beer at different temperatures, and experience the changes.”

    It’s a fair point. Beer isn’t just worth sipping at a precisely “proper” temperature, but across a range of temperatures that gradually unfold the flavor and nuance. Such an approach to beer drinking takes patience, thought and what some might consider fussing over. But like wine, spirits or anything else worth drinking, the best beers reveal themselves across a journey of sorts.

    Though, if you’re in a hurry, the microwave works too.

    jbnoel@tribune.com

    Twitter @joshbnoel

    Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is JD.  Beer with breakfast sounds like a great way to start the day.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/03/29/i-should-pour-this-on-my-waffles-14th-star-brewing-maple-breakfast-stout/

    14th-Star-Maple-Breakfast-Stout-590x392

  • Beerporn Contest Finalists

    blue-ribbon

    Winter has come to a close and that means it is time to decide on a Beerporn winner of the real world prize consisting of a beer mug and a gift card.  Here are the 6 finalists (In order of posting) from which a winner will be decided in the coming weeks.

    Make sure to leave your comments below on which one you think should win.

    Holiday Cheer

    IMG_1803

    Fresh beer and fresh snow

    Heady-Topper-590x590

    Winter Shredder

    IMG_1851

    Tröegs Nugget Nectar

    NuggetNectar-590x392

    Anchor Spring

    Anchor-Saison-590x392

    Vernal Equinox egg

    IMG_1881

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is Tom.  Kicking off Spring by balancing eggs during the Vernal Equinox.  I have never been able to balance the eggs.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/03/20/more-evidence-of-spring-with-the-vernal-equinox-egg-challenge-and-of-course-more-sprung/

    IMG_1881

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is JD.  Watching the last of the snow melt is just about the time to start drinking a Spring Ale.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/03/10/feeling-optimistic-about-the-weather-anchor-spring-saison-love-the-lithograph-label/

    Anchor-Saison-590x392

  • 170-Year-Old Shipwreck Beer Smells Gross

    ShipWreckBeer

    When you’re picking out a beer, what flavors do you look for? If hints of soured milk and burnt rubber, or a “goaty” taste sound delightful to you, then brews that were aged for 170 years at the bottom of the Baltic Sea might just be your thing.

    Scientists recently opened two bottles of beer from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland to get a profile of the 19th century brews.

    Some seawater had seeped into the bottles and decades of bacterial activity gave the beer some rather unpleasant notes. But enough compounds from the drinks survived that the researchers were able to tell that the beers’ original flavors probably would have been quite similar to those of modern beers, according to a new report. [In Photos: Baltic Sea Shipwreck Yields 200-Year-Old Seltzer Bottle]

    The bottles came from 165 feet (50 meters) below the surface of the Baltic, from the wreckage of a schooner that sank near Finland’s Aland Islands in the 1840s. In 2010, divers found 150 bottles of champagne at the wreck, as well as five beer bottles, though one did not survive the journey back to land. When that bottle broke in the divers’ boat, it started to foam, and some gastronomically adventurous divers attested that the liquid indeed tasted like beer, according to the study authors, who published their findings in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry last month.

    For a more scientific examination of the beers’ flavor, the research team, led by John Londesborough of the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT), uncorked two of the surviving bottles. The researchers were hit with a ripe mixture of smells: yeast extract, dimethyl sulfide (think cabbage), Bakelite (a fishy smelling retro plastic), burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, goat and sulfur. These unsavory notes were likely the result of bacteria growing inside the bottles for decades, overpowering whatever fruity, malt or hop profiles the beer originally had, the researchers wrote.

    The beers were also “bright golden yellow, with little haze,” and they may have been diluted by seawater by up to 30 percent, the researchers said. So the drinks might have been stronger than their current alcohol-by-volume levels of 2.8 to 3.2 percent.

    The scientists acknowledged that the beer had not been stored in ideal conditions, and there is little data on the chemical stability of beer over such a long time. Just from sipping the old beer, the researchers couldn’t tell what the drinks may have originally tasted like. Yet, from their chemical analyses, they could speculate a few things.

    They found that yeast-derived flavor compounds were similar to those of modern beers. They also think the two bottles contained different beers, with one being hoppier (and thus more bitter) than the other. The less hoppy beer had a higher than normal amount of a chemical called phenylethanol, which may have given it roselike notes. There were unusually low levels of 3-methylbutyl acetate (a compound that gives beer notes of banana) in both bottles, but it’s possible that the chemical’s concentration plummeted over such a long period of aging, the researchers wrote.

    Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.

    Source: http://www.livescience.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is JD.  I’m always a fan of drinking beer out of a glass with the logo of the beer.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/03/04/time-for-some-liquid-nuggs-troegs-nugget-nectar/

    NuggetNectar-590x392

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is Tom.  Snow seems to be abundant in the North East right now, so you might as well make the best of it with a snowman and a beer.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/02/26/winter-shredder-by-cisco-brewers-snowgirl-by-ava-grace/

    IMG_1851

  • Beer-Maker Anheuser-Busch Wants to Sell More Pricey Beers

    No Anheuser-Busch

    Beer-maker plans to continue to expand the market share of regional and national craft brands.

    Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to continue to expand the market share of regional and national craft brands like Shock Top and Goose Island in the United States this year, while also adding new flavors to other beer options and expand market share in the cider category.

    The maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois outlined plans for 2015 as it reported a 7.6% jump in fourth quarter revenue, with per-share earnings for the period rising to $1.54 from $1.46 a year ago. But in the U.S., the beer maker remained challenged. Beer sales to retailers slid 1.4%, while Anheuser-Busch BUD -0.18% estimated the overall industry reported flat sales. Here are some of the key points from Thursday’s earnings report.

    What you need to know: The Millennial generation, which is challenging the behavior of most major food and beverage companies, are also driving change at AB-InBev. Splashy ads through TV commercials and other traditional media channels don’t work like they used to, so the beer company said it is increasingly allocating marketing resources to digital programs. One way the brewer has aimed to address the digital crowd is a recent at-home beer delivery service that was launched in the Washington, D.C. area.

    Millennials are also changing how AB-InBev thinks about product development. A tequila-flavored beer called Oculto and a malt beverage cocktail known as MixxTail are both hitting the U.S. market early this year as a way to lure consumers that have favored more flavorful beers and spirits like whiskey and tequila. AB-InBev said to win market share in the broader alcohol beverage space, it can’t just focus on “beer occasions only.” That explains some of the moves the company has made to create hybrid beverages.

    The big number: Total volume grew 0.6% in the fourth quarter across the entire AB-InBev portfolio, as growth in northern Latin America, Asia Pacific and Mexico offset declines in the U.S. and Europe. Brazil was a notable bright spot, with AB-InBev’s volume bolstered in that market in 2014 as a result of a strong summer due to the FIFA World Cup.

    What you might have missed: Much of the beer company’s growth strategy in the U.S. and markets abroad focus on “premiumization,” a strategy in the alcohol market to more aggressively promote brands with higher price points, and also when innovation occurs, command a lofty price when new ales and spirits hit liquor stores. The spirits industry has been more effective in this strategy, but beer companies are also making a dent. Some premiumization also naturally occurs when AB-InBev scoops up craft beers, which often command higher prices than Budweiser and other national brands. Recent deals by AB-InBev have included the purchases of Washington-based Elysian Brewing Co. and Oregon-based 10 Barrel.

     

    Source: http://fortune.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is Tom.  President’s Day isn’t too much of a holiday, but a day off from work deserves a beer, and what better beer than a beer with presidents on the can.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/02/16/it-is-presidents-day-live-free-or-die-ipa-would-abe-drink-the-white-house-honey-ale/

    IMG_1839

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