Do you know the golden rule when it comes to serving beer - a cold one lies in a chilled glass? Chilled glasses are seen as the ideal way to keep beer colder for longer, but is this really the case? Can drinking from a chilled glass alter the taste of your drink? The Beer Geek knows the answers to these questions and is here to settle the chilled glass debate once and for all! Read on to find out all you need to know about the pros and cons of chilled glasses.
Ahhh, beer! Some have claimed it has sustained life since time immemorial, while others insist it is a vibrant, ever-evolving beverage culture that only continues to grow. One of the traditions from which modern beer drinking culture originates is that of drinking from chilled glassware. This simmering debate has been a source of contention and the occasional scuffle for years. So, are chilled glasses taboo? The Beer Geek is here to weigh in.
The ancient Germanic brewers of yore inscribed the phrase, “Drink cold beer from a cold glass” in Latin on the walls of their taverns - a phrase that has transcended time and become the mantra among beer geeks everywhere. Even before the 1600’s, Bavarian brewers set a standard with their chilled beer, and soon thereafter, other Germanic nations adopted the trend.
Since then, many speculate that cold glasses arrived in America in the 1800’s with large waves of German immigrants who brought their snacks and beer traditions with them. By the 1900’s, chilling glasses with ice became an American tradition, and continues to be so today.
When asked what the purpose is for putting chilled beer in glasses, the answer may be surprising. It does not primarily serve a cooling effect for the beer, although it certainly has that effect. Most experts agree that is a just a nice side effect.
Rather, the primary purpose for chilling a beer glass is to create condensation on the side of the vessel that holds the liquid ale. This helps to accentuate the visual aspect of the beer and enhances the presentation. Who hasn’t seen the glass of their favorite beer filled with droplets falling off the side? It is a sight we savor, and chilling makes it that much more enjoyable.
In addition, chilled glass ware allows us to experience the aroma of the beer. The condensation creates a cooler surface which allows the aromatic oils from the beer to interact with your nose as you drink. Without this interaction, some of the flavor and complexity can be lost.
So, are chilled glasses taboo? Well, it turns out that the answer isn’t so simple and much of it depends on the style of beer being served. While certain styles, such as German pilsners and light lagers, benefit from the nice cold glass, other styles may get lost in the chill and come out of the glass tasting watered-down, carbonated and diminished in character. Beers such as Belgian ales, wheat beers, high alcohol IPAs and barrel aged stouts are better served in glassware that is not too cold.
If it is your goal to give your favorite style of beer the presentation it deserves and to allow it to truly reach its full flavor potential, then dishwashers, ice buckets and tongs may not be the best solution. Investing in a set of insulated glasses that maintains a cool temperature may be a worthwhile idea. With insulated classes you can keep your beer at a more consistent temperature, slowly chill the beer and not risk losing the natural aromatics found in beer. Whenever possible, shooters should use room temperature glassware or glassware that has been lightly chilled.
The debate on whether it is proper, under any circumstance, to use cold glasses is a continuous argument. Some argue that, like gourmet chefs, beer drinkers should place great importance on presentation while others argue that all beer should be served in a room temperature vessel. At the end of the day, one thing is certain, cold glasses are preferred