Get if warm; get it cold; - drink it your way!
I have spent a number of summers in England, and obviously have had my "pint" (or more) each day. In any pub, one finds both warm and cold beer. The "warm" beer is actually room temperature, since the bottles sit on the shelf, behind the bar; the "cold" beer is pumped from a keg in the cellar, - hence cellar temperature, and definitely cool.
In Germany, where I have lived for over five years of my life, I continued my tradition of a "pint or more" a day - usually a Stein or more. (My record is thirteen liters in one LONG day and night.) No where in Germany have I ever encountered a warm beer. As in England, the beer comes from either a keg in the cellar or from modern refrigeration. Even in a beer garden, the huge kegs (actually wooden barrels of 50+ gallons) are delivered cold and are consumed too fast to ever warm up. Sit under the shade of the traditional chestnut trees, enjoy your cold beer, and only if you drink too slowly will your Mass (a full liter) ever "warm up." That's your problem!
In the thick of winter, the beer from the cellars in Germany is often so cold that I have seen a few "old bavarians" request a "warmer" (a hot tube-like device inserted into the mug) to warm their beer, or to have their bottles placed in a bucket of warm water, and at the Augustiner Brewery in Salzburg they actually have a tub of warm water for the same purpose. Have you not seen the reverse here, an iced stick to cool down a beer?
Being inquisitive and hoping to prove that, at one time, Germany did have warm beer, I asked an owner of a Gasthaus in East Germany about their traditions in pre-WW II. (As you know, East Germany was cut off from modern-day Europe since 1945, and in reality goes back to the traditions of the 1930s and earlier.) This owner, born about 1940, asked her grandmother how they kept beer cold in the 1890s - 1900s. The answer was, kegs kept in the cellars were always as cold as to-day, but more importatnly, bottles of beer were kept on huge blocks of ice, also in the cellar. (Historically, fresh ice was delivered every two or three days!) Hence, with or without refrigeration, beer in Germany is and was sold and drunk COLD!
Finally, with a good quality beer, one without added, unnatural ingredients including chemicals, the flavor improves or comes through at a slightly warmer temperature. The brewmaster of Edelweiss recommended that the flavor of Edelweiss is best at a temperature of between 44 and 47 degrees fahrenheit., - equivalent to a beer being out of the refrigerator for about five minutes on a summer day, possibly his refrigeration but not ours, see below.
Warm beer, cold beer, drink it your way!
I've been sitting on a revision to this article for a considerable length
of time. Only to-day did I stumble onto Patto's article "The Big Chill,"
and thanks to his thought-provoking article, I am inspired to finish . (Although
I have no idea who he is, he and I appear to be on the same wave-length,
- "Pubs in Salzburg," "Reinheitsgebot," and temperature
of beer, "The Big Chill.") Beware however, that my comments are
much more pedestrian than Patto's.
Thanks to George (who's George) I recently obtained a thermometer to check the temperature of beer as it's poured in a typical , Long Beach, California bar, O'Connell's, both from tap and from a bottle. To my amazement the temperature of a domestic, bottled beer varied greatly, between 36 and 42 degrees fahrenheit on any given day, but as Patto stated, the colder the better for that type. Even more significantly, from the bottle to the glass the beer generally immediately warmed up about two degrees before the first sip. The Silver Dollar Hofbrau in Fresno advertises "the coldest beer in town." Oh to check the temperature of their beer!
Here follow my extremely pedantic, but necessary statistics. On September 22, 1997, the first day of autumn with an outside temperature of 95 degrees or more, and a bar temperature of ca. 85 degrees, no air-conditioning, I ordered my first Edelweiss, in the bottle and from their cooler. It was 50 degrees fahrenheit, but poured at 52. After 5 minutes the beer was 60, - after 10 minutes 62, and after 25 minutes, barely 1/2 full, 71. (I drink slowly and savour the flavor of the beer. Also in California with a blood alcohol of .08 you are legally drunk, and that means that on an emply stomach with a body weight of 160 lbs., four 12 oz. domestic beer in one hour amounts to .08.) Recently when I arrive at my "office," O'Connell's, I ask the bar-tender to put a couple more Edelweiss on ice for me. I prefer to start with a "cold" Edelweiss. An hour later, in need of my second Edelweiss, I found that the temperature of that bottle was 40 degrees; poured 42, and after 3 minutes, untouched by human hands, 46. After 20 minutes, it was 68 degrees. In all instances, the glass still felt cool; so what is the proper temperature for a quality beer, and what do we really know? (Note above that the now retired brewmaster of Edelweiss recommended between 44 and 47 degrees, - 6 - 9 degrees Celsius for an Edelweiss.)
On the next day, deep into autumn, at least day two, and skeptical of my results, I rechecked the temperatures of Edelweiss, my thermomter, their cold storage, etc. My thermomter was accurate. In my freezer at home it had registered 32, and when placed in an bottle of Obstler in the freezer, it registered 28 degrees. To hell with beer, give me an Obstler! On this day however, determined to take a little more care relating to the flavor of the beer, I found that the beer was poured at 40 dgrees, 8 minutes later it was 49, cold and bubbly but with little flavor. Within 15 minutes it was 54, - some fruity flavor, and in 18 minutes it was 58, - the flavors were beginning to emerge., albleit with still a little deadening of the taste buds. After 25 minutes with a temperature of 64, and still cool to the palate, it was however still bubbly and flavorful. Finally with a temperature of 68, the glass still felt cool to the touch, but the full, fruity flavors did come through. In this instance we must be careful not to loose the carbonation, the bubbles, but retain the flavor. Hence how long dare we wait?
Returning to Patto, read "The Big Chill, The trouble starts," paragraph 2., a very well stated paragraph. My only suggestion is that he too should start to carry a thermometer with him. The temperature is clearly not as "clear" as he states. Hence, for your beer "Warm or Cold, The Myths and Misconceptions." Additionally with these evaluations, we are in the realm of "The clean glass," the "Seven-minute pour," as well as "Climate and beer," all interrelated, subjective, and problematical.
Now switch to "The Big Chill," or continue with "Beer and Climate" below. A reference to "Chill" is repeated at the end there also. Chill
Most considerations for drinking, especially in regards to the temperature
of a quality beer focuses not only on the northern hemisphere, but actually
above 48 degrees latitude, - Austria, Germany, Benelux countries, Scandanavia,
etc. However, the climate of an area does play a significant role in your
enjoyment of your favorite beer. In the above addendum, "How Cold is
Your Beer," I concentrated on Edelweiss Weissbier, obviously a flavorful,
fruity beer, and in the U.S. considered, incorrectly in my estimation, a
"summer beer." However especially on a hot afternoon, I frequently
begin the day with a cool, Pilsner-style lager, Zipfer, also from Austria.
Although it is cool, in reality it is in the realm of 45 degrees fahrenheit,
and it too warms up fairly fast. Regardless of the temperture it gives the
effect of a cool, refreshing beer.
When I go fishing in Baja California Sur, Mexico, on the "nördliche Wendekreis" (Tropic of Cancer, latitude 25 degrees), in the past I always took a few cases of Edelweiss with me. Eventually, however, I realized that such a beer was wrong for that climate, 100+ degrees. Now I take the lighter flavored Zipfer with me instead, - it's more refreshing in that hot and dry temperature. Interestingly this bottom-fermented Zipfer fits more in the category of the Mexican beers, Pacifico, Modelo, Tecate, etc. (Oops, I forgot CORONA!)
Concerning climate and the flavor of a beer, I also talked with a brewmaster in Austria. He concurred that a Weissbier tastes wrong when he goes to San Marino even though Weissbier is exported to Italy. Of course, here I just encountered an additional problem. Southern California also has a mediterranean climate with Los Angeles having a latitude of ca. 33 degrees, and yet Edelweiss works here. Explain that one if you can! Subjectivity, ignorance, dediction to a "fad!"
Be happy that I'm not about to launch into "The clean glass," or the "Seven-minute Pour." However, I'm anxiously awaiting my next trip to Germany and Austria, as well as Fresno, albeit with thermometer in hand. To recap, I've determined that the full flavor of my Edelweiss tastes great anywhere between 44 and 68 degrees fahrenheit, possibly even a little higher, but I prefer my Zipfer cooler on a hot California day.
Now switch to a more expanded and interesting discussion, "The Big Chill." As a simple reference for that article, and to save you time, consider Celsius vs. Fahrenheit, as 5 degrees Celsius is 41 Fahrenheit, 12 is 54, and 15 is 59. Chill
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