Thursday, 3 January 2008

Tepid Beer Anyone?


Picking up this month's "What's Brewing" the Campaign for Real Ale's monthly newspaper, I see that veteran letter writer Keith Flett is at it again. The subject of his letter is beer serving temperature, something that is dear to my heart.

Flett urges cask beer to be served tepid! The dictionary definition of tepid is "lukewarm". Doesn't that just conjure up an image that makes you smack your lips with anticipation? In fairness our esteemed correspondent agrees that cooler beer may well be needed to draw in younger drinkers, a point I'd certainly agree with. But what constitutes ideal serving temperature? Mr Flett reckons 12C (53.6F). CAMRA will be happy with 12 - 14C or about 54 - 57F, which to me has a maximum set a tad on the warm side. Those cellar inspectors at Cask Marque allow 11- 13C, so you can see there is no precise agreement as to what serving temperature should be.

My own view is that anywhere between 10c and 12c (50 - 53.5F ) is OK. Ideally I'd prefer it around 11C at the point of dispense, on the basis that beer will warm up and soon pass the recommended maximum, particularly outside the colder months. In any event I like my beer to be served cool.

So Mr Flett. Lukewarm beer? No thanks. Urging tepid cask beer is not the way forward for real ale. What do others think?

The photo is from my Cask Marque Beer thermometer.

13 comments:

John Clarke said...

I agree - there's nothing worse than a warm pint of real ale. Given the trent towards drinks in general being served at lower temparatures, I think cask beer must reflect this if it is to have wider appeal.

Alex said...

Agree totally with what's been said. 11C is also my prefered serving temp. Can't see an advertising campaign promoting "tepid real ale" doing well, can you? The sooner some diehards ditch their obsession with lukewarm beer, the sooner we can move onto the important stuff-ie getting people to drink the stuff.

Stonch said...

Agreed.

Stonch said...

I used the wrong html tags there, intended to make it bold.

Suffice to say - I agree with you entirely.

Stonch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Pattinson said...

I disagree. Personally I like my beer at just about room temperature.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Im with Ron 14c or more would be in line with my taste through most of the year. That said I can see the need to serve cooler to entice younger drinkers, however I think you need to be very wary of inovations that strive to produce chilled real ale such as GK's St Edmunds Ale gadget that chills to 6-7c.

Tandleman said...

Ron and Kieran. If you like your beer lukewarm, fine, but the beer drinking public in the main isn't going to go that way or agree with you. I still think in old money a bit and higher than 14C as Kieran suggests is getting on for 60F and that is just too warm.

For me Alex and John have the right of it. Cask Ale's future lies in cooler but not chilled presentation and to me anyway, it just tastes better that way.

This summer I'll be out and about with my thermometer and I'll be reporting back and naming names!

Alex said...

14C or more! Surely a joke? When you put it at 60F it becomes frightening. That is disgustingly warm and I (like the vast majority) wouldn't touch that in winter never mind summer. Its not about pleasing youngsters, it's common sense. Beer will warm up but it won't cool down-fact!

Paul Garrard said...

Personally I prefer cellar cool of around the 52º mark at dispense as it will rise from there. You just can't taste cold beer, which is why Euro-fizz is so cold to distract from the fact that it has no taste.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I dont think its about common sense at all, many people will tell you that its 'common sense' to serve beer very cold , I think all of us would disagree with that. Its about personal taste and what you are used to. Pubs have to cater to a range so 10-12c probibly a good goal.

I think that in some ways temperature in the cellar and the publicans cellermanship abillitys are probibly bigger isses than temperature at dispense.

Tandleman said...

It's good to see you re-thinking your 60F position and I agree there is much to discuss about cellarmanship, which I'll do on another post sometime soon. It's another obsession of mine!

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

No rethinking here, 14c or alittle warmer is how I would like most my beer to be (golden ales perhaps alittle cooler) , I never said the pub should serve at that temp, I dont expect the world to bend to my will.

During the winter I sometimes warm my beer lines with hot water bottles otherwise I end up with a way sub 10c pint (no central heating here).