During a recent beer tasting, a friend asked whether I thought it REALLY was THAT important to serve beer at the proper temperature.

This developed into a discussion of how best to serve beer during the colder months. Can beer be better enjoyed during the colder months if it isn’t frosty cold?

We’ve discussed the proper temperature issue a number of times before, but I thought a short refresher — with some new info — might be valuable and (hopefully) interesting.

Each style of beer has a recommended temperature at which it is best served and enjoyed. It all has to do with ingredients, the brewing process and simple chemistry.

In very short, and in the driest terms beers should be served as follows:

  • Most premium lagers should be poured at between 42-48 degrees, (This is all in Fahrenheit).
  • Most craft and quality ales should be served between 44-52 degrees.
  • Stouts can be served up at 55 degrees. (This by the way is considered cellar temperature); and
  • Barleywines, barrel-aged stouts, and almost all old ales should be only lightly chilled or served at room temperature.

Now, and this is important, serving and drinking beer is a matter of personal taste. If you like all of ‘em in a tall frosty glass - have at it! Be aware, however, that the reason beers are served at differing temperatures is because they have differing ingredients and brewing quirks that are highlighted by the suggested temperatures.

Still ... back to the question about serving beer in the autumn and winter.

I tend to appreciate the ales that are generally served slightly warmer than lagers.

I quite appreciate a quality brew served in the British style which, as opposed to general opinion, IS NOT at room temperature. Our British cousins often drink their beer at cellar temperature — CELLAR temperature.

That is to say, just a tad below room temperature.

Cellar temperature IS NOT room temperature. The proof of that pudding is a simple experiment. Turn your home thermostat down to 55 degrees, tell everyone this is room temperature, and wait for the resulting revolt!

Cellar temperature is cool, but not cold. This brings out all the best qualities of a finely craft ale and even can teach you new things about your favorite lager.

All throughout the winter, and actually for a good part of the year, I store my beers (usually ales) in the mud room - not in the fridge.

They stay plenty cool enough, and don’t plug up the food supply chain!

Winter ales are delicious and revealing when served at cellar temperature (and actually not bad at all when served on a cold winter’s night at room temperature).

The fun is in the testing and experimentation.

Try for yourself and see what can be discovered at differing temperatures.

One thing is for sure, after a stint outside shoveling snow, a frosty cold beer is not what the doctor ordered, but a hearty, slightly warmed barleywine beer may be just the ticket.

Enjoy.

Norm's Raggedy Ass Griffin Claw Brewing Co. Birmingham

I picked this exceptional offering up during a visit to the Sweetfern store up in Irons.

Wonderful place. Wonderful beer selection. Wonderful beer.

Considering that Norm’s is a double IPA packing a hefty 8.50 percent ABV, this is a smooth, well-balanced and absolutely scrumptious IPA (and I am not the biggest fan of IPAs around).

Norm’s pours with a nice head of foam and leaves a good film of lacing. The brew is crisp and clear.

There is a sweetish scent of vanilla riding on a hefty aroma of malts. There seems to be a generous background of light fruits, but not so much as to be in any way overwhelming. At first wash, this is hoppy. Pleasantly so, but hoppy nonetheless.

There is a lot of flavor here. A LOT.

A touch outdoorsy. A whole lot of citrus. An almost warm, buttery follow.

Just delicious.

The backend carries a bit of herbal after-taste.

Norm’s is rich and taste-filled. Somewhat creamy. A real joy for both steadfast hops lovers, and those venturing into the world of IPAs.

Wonderful stuff. Don’t miss out!

Hoosier Daddy New Albanian Brewing Co. New Albany, Ind.

Hoosier Daddy was brought up to BR from a friend visiting in Indiana. I don’t know how available it is in our area (or not).

Daddy pours a sharp, clear brown in color with sparkling tones of red flashing through. There is a good bit of light beige head and disappears pretty quickly.

This brew is quite caramely at first scent. There are hints of citrus and a touch of pine - but the caramel malts really carry the day.

Taste largely follows the nose with a blast of caramel and malt at first swish, and then some of the more outdoor tones following on later.

This is a good example of the right use of bittering hops being used to balance what could well be a more cloying brew.

This is a very pleasant beer.

Not overly expressive in any way, but gentle on the tongue and tummy.

Quite enjoyable.