In Australia, ice-cold beer’s a given. From scorching Marble Bar to frosty Thredbo, beer flows from bar taps at a chilly two degrees or so. But too much chill kills flavour. It doesn’t matter so much drinking standard lager. Icy cold hits the spot.
But as you move up the quality ladder, enjoyable aromas and flavours emerge at slightly higher temperatures.
Top-notch lager – for example, Urquell Pilsen, James Squire Pilsener and Weihenstephaner Pilsen –reveal more of their pure, malty richness and delicate hops character at around six to eight degrees than they do at two degrees.
For high quality ales, serving temperatures can be even higher – around ten degrees, say, for English-style real ales where fruitiness adds so much to the rich, underlying malt flavours. These make particularly good, warming winter drinks.
But even our own popular bar ales, like Tooth’s Old and Toohey’s Black – served widely (always arctic cold) at South Coast pubs – deliver more rich, maltiness and fruitiness as they warm up, even by just a few degrees.
There’s be riots if Australian publicans turned beer temperatures up. But over Christmas in our own homes we can get more from our premium beers by letting them warm up a little.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010