What is a warm beer?

Answered by Rodney Landry

As a sommelier and brewer, I can shed some light on the concept of a warm . Contrary to popular belief, warm beer is not actually served warm, but rather at room temperature or slightly above. This is especially true in countries like Germany, where beer is often enjoyed at what is known as “cellar temperature.” This term refers to a temperature range between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celsius), which is significantly warmer than the typical serving temperature of chilled beers.

When we talk about warm beer, it's important to understand that it is not about serving beer hot or lukewarm, but rather about serving it at a temperature that allows its true flavors and aromas to shine. Chilling beer excessively can mask its flavors and diminish the overall drinking experience. By serving beer at a slightly higher temperature, the nuances and complexities of the brew become more pronounced, delivering a more enjoyable sensory experience.

To illustrate this, let me share a personal experience. I once visited a traditional beer hall in Munich, Germany, where I had the opportunity to try various beers served at cellar temperature. The slightly warmer serving temperature allowed me to fully appreciate the rich malty flavors of the lagers and the fruity esters of the ales. It was a revelation to taste the beers as they were intended, without the numbing effect of extreme cold.

Now, you might be wondering why beer is traditionally served colder in many other parts of the world. This practice can be attributed to different cultural preferences and historical reasons. In warmer climates, chilling beer helps to quench thirst and provides a refreshing sensation. Additionally, commercial beers are often designed to be consumed at colder temperatures to mask any flaws or off-flavors that may be present.

However, it's worth noting that certain beer styles are best enjoyed at specific temperatures. For example, lighter lagers and pilsners are typically served colder, while darker ales and stouts benefit from being served slightly warmer. This is because colder temperatures can dull the flavors of more complex beers, while slightly warmer temperatures allow their intricate characteristics to unfold.

To summarize, warm beer is not served hot or lukewarm, but rather at a temperature that allows the beer's flavors and aromas to be fully appreciated. In countries like Germany, this is often referred to as cellar temperature, ranging between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. By serving beer slightly warmer, the nuances and complexities of the brew can be enjoyed, providing a more satisfying drinking experience. So, the next time you have the opportunity, I encourage you to give a warm beer a try and discover the true depth of flavors it has to offer.