Why Do Brits Drink Warm Beer?

Traveling through mainland Europe on a British passport leads you to several predictable conversations. There’s Marmite of course, then all the fun of the Brexit fair, and finally on a more serious note, beer. You see, I didn’t know this, but after decades of quaffing fine ales, I’m told we do it wrong because we drink our beer warm. “Warm?”, I say, thinking of a cooling glass of my local Old Hooky which is anything but warm when served in an Oxfordshire village pub, to receive the reply that they drink their beers cold. A bit of international deciphering later it emerges that “warm” is what I’d refer to as “cold”, or in fact “room temperature”, while “cold” in their parlance means “refrigerated”, or as I’d say it: “Too cold to taste anything”. Mild humour aside there’s clearly something afoot, so it’s time to get to the bottom of all this.

Too cold to taste anything

British pub interior showing pumps on bar
On the left in this London pub are the ale hand pumps, on the right the pressure dispensers including lagers. Edwardx, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Should you walk into a British pub, assuming it’s a good one you’ll see a range of beers on tap. There will be the tall polished levers of the hand pumps delivering the local ales, and there will be at one end of the bar a shiny silver pressure keg dispenser or two with a few mass-market beers. These usually come out of the tap refrigerated like my continental friends would expect, and invariably include the usual highly-advertised pilsener-style lagers. It’s on that bar then that you’ll see in microcosm what lies behind this great beer divide, and the clue came in the names “ale”, and “lager”. They are both beers, but their different styles reveal the story.

To make beer as we’d know it, one must boil up a quantity of malt and hops in water, add a yeast culture, and leave it to ferment for a while. That’s the basic recipe, but it’s in the myriad variations of ingredients and places that we find all the different styles we’ve come to know. Those ales and lagers both start out in the same way with malt and hops, but it’s in their yeast cultures that they diverge. Yeasts are a type of unicellular organism, and some varieties have the useful property of producing alcohol when the anaerobically consume sugar. Yeasts are all around us in the air so it’s entirely possible to make a beer using only whatever natural yeasts settle in the liquid without having to add a culture as such, this is the process behind the Belgian lambic beers.

It’s All In The Yeast

An electron micrograph of yeast cells
Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells under an electron microscope. Mogana Das Murtey and Patchamuthu Ramasamy, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Because brewers value consistency of their product and hate to risk a batch going bad due to bacterial infection, most of them use a culture. This can be one specific to their brewery and bred across countless brews over years, or it can be one bred by a laboratory. The family of yeast varieties of interest to brewers are the Saccharomyces strains, and it’s two different varieties of Saccharomyces, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces pastorianus, that are responsible for ales and lagers in turn. Even then it’s not as simple as just changing the yeast , because they each have very different properties. The ale yeasts ferment quickly at a high temperature and float on top of the liquid, while the lager yeasts ferment slowly and sink to the bottom. In there is the origin of the world “lager”, which refers to the practice of storing the beer in caves, or lagering it, as it completed its fermentation.

We now have some idea why ales and lagers are different types of beer, but why do Brits drink their ale at room temperature? Hackaday isn’t a beer review publication, no matter how much some of we scribes might like to spend more time in the pub, but it’s safe to describe a lager as having a lighter taste than an ale, and then to make the observation that the former tastes better when colder while the latter loses its flavour if it’s chilled. Hence those hand pumps in a British pub, and my perplexed Continental friends when faced with a British pint.

So we’ve got to the bottom of the warm beer question, but there’s a final injustice I must correct. Brits refer to any vaguely pilsener style beer as “lager” as if that were the only style of lager, while in fact lagers come in a huge range of styles of which pilsener is only one. Even then the pilseners we consume would probably shock a brewmaster from Pilsen to his core, such is their blandness. It’s clear that our Continental friends have much to learn about ales, but by Bacchus, we have a lot to learn about lagers!

149 thoughts on “Why Do Brits Drink Warm Beer?

    1. I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re referring to as “free beer”, is in fact, gratis beer, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, beer with digital restrictions management. Gratis beer is not a drink unto itself, but rather a copyrighted recipe deprived of the freedom to brew it yourself. Many beer drinkers drink only a licensed version of beer every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, libre beer today is only brewn by a handful of artisans.


      1. I’m going to go with this reason. Every experience I’ve had with working on anything Lucas has always been having to do it over at least the second time at which I learned my lesson and switched brands to one more reliable.

      1. Blasphemy is to be called upon me, as i live in a very hot climate and i will ice my beer. Depending on the type of course.
        Many ipas and high octane brews have a lot.of bitters which ends up tasting salty to me. While the other flavors come through, I enjoy something ice cold to help cool me down while mowing the lawn or being outside on a day hot enough to start reverse sweating. This will calm the bitterness and add enough water for me to not become dehydrated while keeping the more subtle flavors a chance to be appreciated and tempering the alcohol content. Basically the same thing they do with the “all day” style ipas.
        But if im going to have a high quality brew of any kind, i take it as served.
        When i used to live in a much colder climate, i would enjoy a thick stout at room temp or so all day long.
        Sometimes it is not as much about the flavor as it is about your surroundings.

        Any way you pour it, if you’re buyin, i’ll drink it.

      1. Can we all just appreciate the Chadness of his response to people’s criticism for the lights on his vehicles not working? “You shouldn’t be driving at night then, silly.” That’s chutzpah.

      1. I used to think the same, but with age I’ve grown tired of beer flavors. I just want something cheap and close to water that gives me a little buzz. I don’t want to drink a chocolate cake. Or maybe I’m just an alcoholic.

      1. The phrase you are looking for is ‘ American can beer’.

        American craft beer is as good as any. You won’t like all of it, but there’s something for everyone.

        What we don’t have is cheap good Pils like Germany. I guess the ‘third rail of German politics’ is raising beer taxes. Just saying it leaves a politician bouncing down the town hall stairs and looking for an honest job.
        Last time I was in Germany a case was nine euro plus bottle deposit. A German case is almost exactly 5 American six packs.

        If you want overpriced bad must be slushy cold beer look to Mexico. Corona is the worst beer sold in bottles for a premium price. Tastes just like Miller highlife. Bohemia and DosXX amber isn’t bad though.

          1. A few months ago, I figured out how to make a good copy of the “Strong Zero” at home!

            3 jiggers of ice cold Vodka
            6 jiggers of Club Soda
            1/4 teaspoon of Citric Acid powder <—- Secret ingredient
            1/2 Lemon <— Optional


  1. I like my ales, porters, stouts at “cellar temperature” about 12-15C ideally. Lagers I tend to avoid due to tasting like urine above 5C, not that I haven’t got a fridge, I just don’t drink that quick, so the last half isn’t good. Oddly I only seem to want them when it’s real hot out, seem more refreshing then, and I must be thirsty enough to drink quicker. Though it’s usually specifically a corona with a slice of lime I’m craving when thermometer ticks over 30C

    1. This. It’s not room temperature; it’s cellar temperature. I also didn’t realise that foreigners actually thought we drank ‘warm’ beer until I moved to Australia at the age of 30. I thought it was a joke the first few times I heard it, then it suddenly made sense.

      1. This! While this article might be trying to shed some light and clear up misunderstanding, I think it will just reinforce the idea that Brits drink beer warm or at room temperature. Most cask ales are intended to be consumed at 11-13°C and 10-14°C is what you’ll get from a pump beer in a pub (that’s 50 – 57 Fahrenheit).

        1. Isn’t 10-14c room temperature for Brits? ;)

          I bet the definition of room temperature will vary by country. It seems to be about 23-25c here, but I suspect the Brits will call that a ‘heatwave’.

  2. There are lots of beers in Belgium and we clearly know a lot about them, and usually all the brewers here will tell you there is an ideal temperature to drink them, even for ale types… usually a bit warmer than pilsner, but not that much…

    Actually we drink our special beers at around 6 to 10 °C but not colder, the ideal temperature being where your bottle is covered in condensation drops some minutes after going out of the fridge, or your glass after the beer has flown out of the tap. It all depends on the ambient temperature but also each ones’ taste, as usually you will drink a beer with the goal to be refreshed as much as to drink the beer itself… we will simply drink it differently if it is an ale or a lager. You drink a lager faster and more easily, but some ale or special beers demand more stay in the mouth to slowly raise the different tastes around your tongue and palate while it heats up…

    So this is all a matter of taste, and I must admit that I can also drink some special beers at ambient temperature, but it will be from laziness as when I want a beer but forgot to put it in the fridge, I usually will not be able to wait ;)

  3. Having worked in social clubs, I can say that lager style beer is more popular in the south of England, whilst in the north, West Yorkshire, specifically, ale is the preferred drink.

    I have also noticed that many male drinkers, stick specifically to a certain brand of lager, to the exclusion of all others. It almost a tribal thing, similar to which football team they support.

    Most of the popular lagers in the UK, are brewed by vast brewing corporations which hype their product with ridiculous advertising campaigns.

    If you happen to like Birra Moretti, believing that it is a sophisticated Italian, premier beer, you might be disappointed to learn that it is brewed in Edinburgh (Scotland) in a vast brewery, owned by Heineken.

    1. Having travelled even more extensively, there’s a line across the country, probably county Durham-Cumbria, above which even ale gets the arse refrigerated off it. When I was a student I had to have a pint warming up while I drank my current pint, coming from “dahn sarf”.

      Occasionally you can find an unrefrigerated pint in Scotland, but that’s quite rare.

      Yes – cellar temperature. Trouble starts brewing (sic!) in the summer, when even the cellars start to warm up above the usual constant 12C. Then we get much frothing and extra fermentation, unless the barrels are chilled a bit.

      1. The title of this piece is incorrect.
        It should read “Why do people from some parts of England drink warm beer?”.
        “Brits” being “British people” and “England” being a subset of “Britain”.

        I grew up in Scotland. Part of Britain. I sampled much mass produced beer there in the mid and late 90’s. At the time there weren’t any other options widely available. It was all served refrigerated which is just as well as as is mentioned above, it tasted pretty bad. When i’m back there these days, there does seem to be more interest in more variety of brews which is a good thing in my opinion…. but i digress.

        Northern Ireland can be described as Britain in legal terms, even if not all of the region by into that philosophy.
        None of it is England though.
        The beer there is always chilled to some extent in my experience.

        Wales is also part of Britain.
        Most Welsh people i’ve met find being referred to as “English” as somewhere between frustrating and offensive.
        I’ve little experience there but have never seen an English style ale for sale there. I’m interested if they do exist in Wales?

        The beer culture is one of the things i actually enjoy when i’m in parts of England where is is found. I wish this sort of beer culture was more prevalent elsewhere in the world but the few big brewing companies have wiped it out most places.
        But it’s not a “British” thing. It’s a thing from parts of England.

        1. I’m not a drinker of beers and ales, though I am Welsh. Two of the bigger names in ales from this side of the border would be SA Brain (Brains) and Felinfoel. There are numerous microbrewery upstarts too.

          Curiously, these two are based in the south of Wales, whereas the most famous brewery of North Wales would be Wrexham Lager – reversing the north-south trend for England mentioned by the earlier posters.

          Anyhow, I’m off into the garden to press some more windfall apples. That demijohn won’t fill itself…

        2. Dwi ddim yn siarad Cymraeg yn dda iawn, ond dwi’n meddwl bod hynny yn golygu dwi’n siarad dwy iaith Brydeinig. Winds up the far right when they go on about how British they are, when you ask them how many British languages they speak.

          The article is written for an international audience. As you might guess by my spending several years on Say Something In Welsh learning to siarad Cymraeg yn wael iawn, I’m acutely aware of the historical, cultural, and political dimensions to the different constituent nations that make up the UK. But I suspect for many readers that won’t be the case.

          I have to admit that my drinking in Scotland hasn’t been extensive. But it surprises me that real ale in Wales isn’t drunk at “warm” temperatures, I distinvtly remember my last pint of Cwrw Llŷn being unrefrigerated.

          1. > The article is written for an international audience.
            Yes, that’s my point.
            Most Brits reading this understand that it’s written from an English perspective rather than a British one.
            Those of us Brits not from England will feel the usual level of frustration that the difference is being ignored but we understand what you meant.
            For English people in Ale drinking areas and people outside the UK it gives the incorrect impression that the majority of regions in the UK drink un-chilled beer.

            For the record, i really like English ales.
            It’s just they are not representative of much of Britain.

    2. “Most of the popular lagers in the UK, are brewed by vast brewing corporations which hype their product with ridiculous advertising campaigns.”

      Sounds like the Budweiserification of the UK.

    3. The lager beers that are found in the pubs in Britain cannot be compared to the real German lagers. They are just cold bitter fizzy water. Sadly the macro-breweries have started to buy up some of the ales breweries, turning some of the classic ale names into a copper coloured caramel flavoured drink.
      The local small brewery on the other hand, will offer you the nectar of the gods.

  4. I’m not sure where the hack is here, but what the heck, this is fun and interesting.

    Honestly, I think it is more about what you are used to than anything.
    It is healthy for Americans (like myself) to learn about other ways of doing things that can sometimes frankly be better than what we are used to. As for beer, as with many things, you really can taste more if the stuff is not ice cold. There is a time for an ice cold beverage, but it is not something to be rigid about.

    But there are people who are rigid about everything, resist all change, think they are right about everything, can never learn anything new. I try no to be such a person.

    1. Fwiw you Americans do produce some incredible ales easily rivalling those us Brits think are the best. I visited a microbrew place in Sunnyvale once and the beer was simply devine. We didnt want to leave to go to the restaurant we had booked. In retrospect, that would have likely ended badly, since there is a distinct lack of kebab shops in California.

  5. The question isn’t why people drink beer at different temperatures. The question is why people drink beer at all.

    Every beer drinker I’ve ever asked has said that they didn’t like beer the first time around, and that they had to drink quite abit to begin to like it.

    Why would you drink it a second time if it tasted nasty the first time?

    It smells horrible and it tastes horrible, and I’m not going to drink enough of it to ruin my taste buds.

      1. Why do people bother? I don’t eat brussel sprouts or endives – and licorice is right out. No cigarettes, and coffee only when forced to.

        All of those things taste absolutely vile.

        Your “science behind acquired taste” article basically says that people who like that crap have a severe lack of ability to taste bitter stuff. Taste buds are (genetically) broken and can’t detect the flavor of poisonous stuff.

        Drink and eat your bitter grunge. I’m not touching it.

        Licorice isn’t bitter. It merely tastes like licking the leaky differential of an old truck driven on dirt roads.

        1. There are in fact genetic differences in taste receptors. Brussel sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables, ever since I was a kid. I would disagree that my taste receptors are broken, on the account that Brussel sprouts are not poisonous.

          1. They are the broken ones, not us:

            >”But having two copies of the bitter taste allele in gene hTAS2R38 might have some interesting properties completely separate from your hatred of broccoli.”

            Their body is falsely creating too much copies of a receptor so their sense of taste is falsely amplified to the level they find it unpleasant.

        2. I agree. Coffee is horrible, and so is beer and wine. Licorice and especially salted one is vile. Acquiring the taste is basically a social pressure scheme. A lot fold to be part of a group.

          1. If I enjoy it now, does it really matter that I once didn’t? Should I never try things again because they didn’t make me happy the first time I tried them?

            Hated licorice and sprouts as a kid. I try everything I don’t like every few years when I come across them again, because tastes change as you age. Those two because things I liked.

          2. Or…you could actually read the science and realize that not only do taste buds acclimate to new flavors (talk to some chili heads about needing hotter and hotter peppers) but that tastes change as you age. I detested licorice as a kid, but tried it again in my 30’s and found that I liked it. Even the vile salted stuff. Treating experiences as fixed points in your own personal timeline, and never revisiting them, will probably rob you of some really great stuff.

          3. I don’t care for black licorice,
            (red or blue, or brown isn’t licorice at all, just a chewy candy shaped like (black) licorice.

            But I don’t mind chewing on a fresh stalk of anise!

        3. Sound like you’re a bitter supertaster. Congrats. Just so you know, calling stuff other people like “crap” because of your jacked-up taste buds is really tiresome and boring. My tastebuds don’t taste bitterness so well. Everything tastes pretty sweet to me. But I don’t go around saying sweet foods are crap, because I’m not a child.

          1. Thanks. His comments are super egoistic and annoying lol.

            I don’t like stuff a few million other people eat/drink every day? Better blame THEM. Haha, way to go…

          1. sometimes it is not intentional, like when you are crawling (i.e. squeezing yourself) under said vehicle to find what the heck has broken this time!

      2. Brussel Sprouts and Liquorice are good, how can you not like them?
        Coffee is for the caffeine although exceptionally well prepared coffee can actually have a pleasurable taste too.
        For the old the selling point of Beer is all those aches and pains shutting down for a bit. It’s amazing!
        For the young Beer’s advantage is the goggles it comes with. You only get one life that we know of. Don’t use it all up alone.
        As for Cigars and Cigarettes… keep ’em to yourselves. The world would be a much more pleasant place if their aficionados would suck on the opposite end until the compulsion goes away.

      1. It means I’m tired of hearing about how wonderful the damned disgusting things are and being told I’m strange for not liking the nasty crap.

        “Here, try a beer.” Nope. I’ve tried beer. It tasted nasty – and everybody who claims to like it couldn’t stand it the first time around.

        “Eat some brussel sprouts.” Nope. I’ve tried them. Bitter bombs, pure and simple.

        “Have some egg plant.” Nope. Tried some in a restaurant that specialized in such stuff. It tasted like gasoline.

        Eat it, drink it, whatever. Keep it to yourself. I’m tired of hearing about it.

        1. You don’t have to listen, you have to option to ignore. But you also cant force other people not to express their opinions just to suit your preferences. Welcome to the internet.

        2. You are most certainly not keeping your tastes to yourself, so why should we?

          How do you know what gasoline tastes like?

          Every small child learns to put vinegar on their bitter greens, has nobody taught you what salad dressing is all about?

          And yeah, trying something just once really does turn you into an expert, so do indeed feel free to continue with your definitive findings.

        3. Saying you’ve “tried beer” is like saying you’ve “tried soup”. I like most beers, but I don’t like mass produced ‘lagers’. Conversely I’ve yet to meet a soup I haven’t enjoyed.

        4. I know that feeling. Not drinking coffee, beer, wine and so on makes you the weirdo in a lot of social situations, because it is just that ingrained in culture. It’s starting to change but slowly. I believe it is social pressure thing, and appreciate they want me in the group, but honestly, it is for historical reason and social pressure that makes many try it, or wanting to do what adults do and so on. How many times have I heard ‘you have to grow up some time’. And I’m in my 40s. So it lives on in modern times with sanitation, healthy water and so on. Add that people like to drink alcohol.

          1. And what’s wrong with that? If everybody just did their own thing and demanded their own sensibilities without learning to compromise and go along when the situation warrants it, we’d have no society to speak of.

            There’s nothing more annoying than trying to host a dinner party to a bunch of people who are each following their own fad diet so nobody can eat the same dinner. Yes, you’re all special snowflakes – just like everyone else.

    1. And how many beer drinkers have you asked exactly? 2?
      This may blow your mind but it is possible for people to like beer on the first try. I am one of those people.
      The world is not going to stop talking about things that they enjoy just because “Joseph Eoff, Random Hackaday Commenter” doesn’t like it. The sense of entitlement here must be through the roof. Quit your whining…

      1. I enjoyed beer (Miller High Life), coffee (Taster’s Choice) and cigars (something cheap) from the first. So there. The whining does become tiresome and try as I might I can’t bring myself to like it. But it’s there for those who do.

    2. i love coffee.

      anyways, my youngest son works backwards. he has to have something a few times before he can figure out that he doesn’t like it. when he was 2yo, i hadn’t figured this out yet, and i made the mistake of sharing my espresso with him. turns out it took him about a dozen exposures to figure out coffee is bitter and nasty.

      trying to keep him out of the liquor cabinet for now…

    3. Alcohol is a drug. Drugs are addictive. Companies do whatever they can to hook new consumers. It has become easier to get a bottle of beer in Dubai, than a glass of fruit juice. Thats how far they had being pushing their product. You don’t have to drink beer, no one has. But beer companies will do every trick in their book to convince you.

      Everything makes sense if you think in terms on how much Serotonin your product/service would generate in your consumers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin

      1. “Alcohol is a drug. Drugs are addictive. [..]”

        Not just “a drug”, but the worst, maybe. Alcohol makes people do horrible things they don’t under influence of other “drugs”.

        It also damages the liver and poisones the brain directly, bypassing the brain-blood barrier. It’s horrible.

        Don’t get me wrong, a glas of wine (not whole a bottle!) can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, also. Can reduce “rust” (free radicals) etc. But beer is being drunk en masse.

        Unfortunately, it’s a cultural thing. Like with smoking or drinking multiple cups of coffee, alcohol is an accepted drug among society. And people will defend it no matter what. I’m afraid that won’t change soon, either.

        Yes, coffee, is a drug too. It causes stress hormones to be sent out through the body. That’s why it makes us awake in the morning. It acts like a death treat to our body. That’s why it also suppresses pain.

        1. >Alcohol makes people do horrible things they don’t under influence of other “drugs”.

          Except maybe crack cocaine, “bath salts”, ketamine, etc. Alcohol reduces inhibitions, it does not make people delirious (except for prolonged excessive use), which means it rather reveals who you are behind your social mask than “make” you do those things.

    4. German parents.

      We were started on ‘Kinder Beer’ a slightly hopped sweet malt soft drink only available at the German butcher.

      It’s not my fault your parents neglected you.

      Your right about Brussel sprouts though (stillborn cabbages).

    5. When somebody has “there first beer”, it’s often at young age and with older peers who will order the person’s first beer. Now different beers have different tastes, flavors, etc. (that might be a surprise to some folks), some are very bitter, some have a “burnt” after taste, some more mellow and balanced. Well, these “older peers” tend to think it’s a good laugh to order (or at least recommend) a bitter beer (like a double IPA, or an extra heavy, or 90 shilling, etc.) for the new comer. They’ll take great pleasure in drinking their own tasty beers while watching the first timer grimace at every sip.

      It’s really just hazing nonsense which leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of first time beer drinkers. :)

      Also as folks age, their palate will change, sweet things become less appealing, savory and bitter flavors become more attractive. I preferred cider (proper cider, not heated apple juice) when I was younger, but now prefer beers. I still tend to stay away from IPAs and beers involving heavily roasted ingredients, there are plenty of beers I like, I don’t need to drink the ones I don’t like.

      Hope that helps your understand of the “tasted nasty the first time” thing.

    6. The question is why people feel the need to inject their own personal tastes where no one asked, assuming their own personal experience somehow affects reality. Protip: “I don’t like X” is not the same as “X is bad” regardless of your personal need to teel everyone about yourself.

    7. That is a good question. Back in the early 80’s when the drinking age was 18 in many states, I used a bottle beer as a “prop” in nightclubs. My first air force assingment was in North carolina, and the college club scene in Greenville (East Carolina U) was epic to a young person.

      It wasn’t until 1983 and my assignment to Clark Air Base (and the resultant San Migels) that I started to like beer. There were other attractions of course that lead to my first daughter. My next assignment was to Germany were I drank Bitburgers, Romer Pils and Kutscher alt (which was my preference at the time).

      Now its fun to try various IPAs or lagers are various small tap rooms.

      1. As the Puritans did in early America.
        And there is that monastery that saved a nearby village from a cholera outbreak by sharing their beer with the inhabitants.

    8. My guess as to why is probably due to people having a similar experience to mine. I did not like beer when I first tried it, but due to social pressures and the people I hung out with, I got use to drinking beer. Later as I tried different varieties and learned more about the types, I realized that what I didn’t like was the watered down, overly hoppy stuff that is really common in the States. What I prefer is the darker, more flavorful stouts and porters. I have also found that I enjoy a good wheat beer when wanting something lighter and refreshing on a hot day.

      Coffee is a similar tale. I started drinking the mass produced, pre-ground stuff from the supermarket that has been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. I had do add milk and sugar to it to drink it. I eventually moved to just sugar in my coffee to make it easier to prepare in the morning and started reducing the amount of sugar for health reasons. It was when I started actually tasting the coffee and not the stuff mixed in that I started trying different varieties of coffee. Now, my daily cup is freshly ground using a burr grinder and used within a week of being roasted and I drink it black. I also much prefer the lighter roasts as the darker roasts tend to taste burnt.

  6. I stayed at a B&B in Hook Norton several years ago.
    I “tried” a bit of Hooky’s Bitter, (more accurately it “tried/tested” me!)
    I doubt if I could ever develop a taste for it.

  7. Hops and aromatics in beer are more volatile at warmer temps. You can drink a highly overhopped American IPA just above freezing and it’s good, but let it warm up to 15C and it’s sinfully bitter.

    Lager is “storage” in one of the Germanic languages, it was a process name that ended up being a description for a cold stored and aged beer since beer didn’t age well a hundred years ago.

    You don’t drink a british ale to get messed up, although it is easy to do. You drink it because you like the flavor profile and the complex interactions of the ingrediants which are at their best ‘warm’. Drank cold they tend to be flavorless and like American mass produced yellow stuff

    1. Though if you appreciate beer and want a night on the town in UK, it usually pays to start somewhere quiet, where the beer is good, then after 2 or 3, head where the music is louder, because louder music = worse beer. Getting your tastebuds numbed off a bit first lets you tolerate it.

    2. About twenty years ago Guinness decided they needed to attract more younger drinkers, so they introduced ‘Guinness Extra Cold’. As the name suggests, it was exactly the same drink, but chilled to the point where it was a lot less bitter.
      Of course, unless you drank it quickly, by the end of the pint it had warmed up enough to taste bitter.

  8. Agreed on beer, but liquorice does not taste like that.

    But i would like to see your face when you try Salmiac aka salty liquorice (though there are different “strenghs”, some of which i don’t like either).

  9. It may well be time for some in depth statistical research or review of existing publications to assess which places brew the best beer / cider and if it should be carbonated / cold. Anecdotally. I can give personal testimony that, compared to Belgium, Germany and even France, British beer is garbage. The worst examples are expensive, flat, warm and devoid of alcohol. Anybody producing beer like this in Belgium would be extradited, I’m sure.

    1. > compared to Belgium, Germany and even France, British beer is garbage

      All of those countries, with perhaps the exception of France, brew a very wide range of beer styles and overlap enormously.

      There are traditional styles that reflect what was predominant hundreds of years ago. Belgian style (~10% and sweeter than corn syrup) or German style (cold and metallic) but those styles are now firmly in the rotation of all those countries.

      The IPA is probably the most well-known British style, which is brewed all over the world. But Britain brews loads of Kolshes, Doppels, Saisons, Pilsners, Sours, Lagers, Bitters, Stouts, Porters – and the same can be said about the Belgians and Germans.

      In my experience, whilst I do very much enjoy the German stalwarts of Pilsner, Eisbock and Hefeweizen, they are often *all* you can find. In Britain, as with our food, you can find a huge mix of styles from all over, alongside a wealth of local brews.

      I suspect what you mean is the mass-produced lagers are crappy. Which, yes they are, but they’re all brewed in Denmark and the Netherlands anyway.

      1. “The IPA is probably the most well-known British style”.

        That is because it was specifically devised to be exportable at a time when most beers ‘went off’ within a few days.

        (IPA = India Pale Ale)

    2. In England we have a few beers that taste a bit like Belgian beer occasionally.

      But we hand then back to the publican, because they have “gone off” with bacterial contamination.

  10. It’s all marketing versus climate.

    Prior to the invention of refrigeration and global supply chains, climate was the only viable option. Yeasts cultured themselves in the malt-houses and breweries, the strains heavily influenced by their ability to thrive in the local climate. Beers would then ferment in the climate where they were fermented. Storage and serving temperature would also be climatic. Areas with colder winter temperatures resulted in beers lagering during storage. The history of beer is dictated by thousands of years of climate.

    Now science has given us the ability to control much more of the process. Breweries are kept as sterile as possible, using carefully isolated yeast strains to ferment at carefully controlled temperatures. Storage is temperature controlled, as is serving temperature.

    We ignore history at our peril though. At cold temperatures, flavors and smells are muted. Most beer types evolved over those centuries being stored and served at cellar temperature, and few taste better when served colder than that. Incidentally, the same is true of cheese, another ancient marvel of microbiology. Take it out of the fridge for a couple of hours before eating.

  11. They don’t drink beer warm. They drink beer at cellar temperature. Which is usually still well below room temperature. And the beer styles they drink at this temperature are still palatable because the ingredients they use don’t taste bad at higher temperatures. Adjunct lagers can start to taste very different (and to most people, unpleasant) at temperatures much above 40°F (4°C). But all-malt beers that are lower in hop bitterness taste just as good, and some generally pleasant flavors, like caramel and toffee, are expressed much better at cellar temperatures. I think more people would try this serving method if Americans would stop saying it’s warm. It’s not.

    On a side note, I do not understand the fascination of Brits with regard to “conditioning” their cask ales, meaning they allow oxygen into the casks as they’re served. This spoils the beer, which some people have convinced themselves is part of the character of cask ales, and that if you use a CO2 rebreather to preserve the flavor of the beer and prevent oxidation, it’s not “real ale”. Nonsense. If you like the flavor of oxidized, spoiled beer, go ahead. But don’t call my cask inferior because I like my beer to taste like it did when I tapped it.

    1. Cask conditioned ales are live ales, and the conditioning has nothing to do with the air introduced during serving. Live ales are neither filtered nor pasteurized after racking so the remaining yeast continues to condition the ale slowly in the cask from the time it was casked until the time that it is served. That slow (anaerobic) fermentation adds nuances to the flavor, and the CO2 produced adds the fizziness to the head. A soft spile (made of porous wood) is used to limit the pressure attained during conditioning. No CO2 canisters are used to carbonate or serve real ale.

      Conditioning may last a few days to a few weeks, but once tapped, the cask must be used quickly. 3-5 days is typical because the air introduced during serving contains microbes, and the beer will spoil. In a good pub the turnover is fast enough that spoilage never happens.

      Fascination? It’s the way that beer was conditioned and served for centuries before the invention of compressed gases and forced carbonation.

      1. Well said! When you introduce the spile, it’s to let off excess CO2 for a bit, NOT to introduce O2.
        If you let air get up the pipe you’re serving from, you’re doing something wrong.
        Mostly, the beer will be covered by a blanket of CO2 while in the cask, and yes the idea is to consume it before that dissipates.

        Before the spile is knocked in, the beer can be cask conditioned for weeks, up to a year if strong enough. It just gets stronger and smoother tasking. I used to frequent a pub that stored Adnam’s “Tally Ho” in the cellar for a year, and that was the elixir of the gods when finally tapped. THE ELIXIR OF THE GODS.

        1. I had a bottle of strong IPA get shoved behind stuff and forgotten for a couple of years and there was enough yeast in it to continue fermenting, damn that was an awesome beer. Must have gone to near 10 or 11% but didn’t taste winey like most malt liquor extra strong types do. However, IDK if that’s reliable because some of that case I had had when only a month “out of date” and at that point those were a tad sour tasting. Otherwise I’d stick a couple of cases in the corner of the basement for a treat in a couple of years.

          1. Yes bottle conditioning is a thing, too.

            I do it with the less unacceptable Belgian “beer” (see above) but also live bottled British beers, we had a few such as White Shield (now long gone), my oldest bottle before consumption was getting on for 4 years, and it was excellent.

            You can get some yeast autolysis which adds a creamy note to the flavour. Mmmmm!

          2. It would have blown the lid off if it had fermented that much. Many home brewers make that mistake.

            On the other hand, ‘Sierra Nevada Big Foot’ (Barlywine) is 12% IPA.
            Not great, especially as it doesn’t say the alcohol content anywhere on the bottle. Drank 3 once, didn’t know how I was so hungover the next morning.

            I’m stubborn, I even finished a Guinness Extra Stout…once. Just nasty, was a trial. Didn’t realize I liked stout until I tried one from a decent brewery (Obsidian Oatmeal Stout IIRC).

  12. Personally I’ll drink any beer – depends on the circs.

    Impecunious student Youngers Tartan Bitter, Kestrel Pilsner or, if I’d found an unexpected pound note, a Watneys Party Seven (a robust can that held seven pints).
    Down the working mans club: Double Diamond, Mackeson’s stout
    After work at home: Samuel Smiths old brewery bitter
    After work on the town: Any hand pull at the Black Cat or the Frog and Parrott (Roger and Out O.G 1125).
    and so on
    And today: A can of Asahi Super Dry or a Salopian Oracle – the finest of summer ales.

    First taste – two pints of mild down the Rockingham Arms at dinnertime in the fifth form, school blazer in my bag, yeah it was a little bitter, but who cared. I was too engrossed trying to remember how to get my legs to take me back to afternoon physics to think about the taste. What I do remember is the awful taste of the XXX mints we all chewed in a pointless attempt to disguise what we’d had for lunch when nothing was going to stop us smelling like a pub snug for at least four hours.

    Hmm, now where’s the hack – ah yes, finding a teacher who would tip us the nod as to which pub the staff were going to visit. Important that. Grammar school punishments were harsh in those days.

      1. Vilest concoction ever?


        Bud light, clam juice and tomato juice. Premixed in a can. Some Mexicans _love_ it. Available in the SW USA.

        Yes I’m serious overseas hackaday readers. Not trolling. Really, no BS.
        I know it sounds like a troll, I didn’t believe it either.

        Not really any worse than ‘hot dogs’, blue cheese, RatzenPutz, haggis, surstroming, lutfisk, natto or Japanese fish testicles.
        People are STRANGE!

      2. Oh yeah. Cans of Ind Coope’s Long Life were for summer evenings down the nearest park, provided the right guy was on duty at the local Victoria Wine (i.e. one who definitely did not know your parents). 15p each if I remember right, or 3 shillings in old money. 3 cans would see me very happy and completely unable to negotiate the climb back into my bedroom window. Happy days.

    1. Yeah, I used to find Samuel Smiths a reliable standyby… I think I was out of the Double Diamond distribution area, had it twice, one time it was awful stale, next time it was alright. I used to like Bass Special for preference. Then I was up in the North West where it’s Boddingtons or nothing, damn that overmineralised water taste sticks with you. Too much magnesium I think.

    1. As an Aussie, I can tell you that yes our beer is meant to be drunk cold from the fridge (or the Esky) although I don’t think there is anything you can do that will make beverages like Emu Export or VB taste any good. (XXXX on the other hand… :)

      1. Also Cooper’s ales make a better winter beer for mine. A carton in the barn is fine, refrigeration not required.
        Agree about VB. Not sure about XXXX. Tassie lagers are good hot weather beers, definitely chilled.
        How boring if we all liked the same beers.

    2. Yip, South Africans to. Where I grew up summers saw temperatures in the middle 40s (deg C) you would die if you drank room temperature beer. Where I currently live sumers are a bit milder, upper 30s from Dec to March.

  13. ‘warm’ is a misleading description. Depending on the exact type of ale, the temperature is anywhere between 7c and 12c. 7c for a summery pale ale and 12c for a darker wintery ale. The only beers we ever drink at room temperature are the very dark stouts, and even then, very rarely.

  14. American beers were developed to have a long shelf life since shipping them unrefrigerated for long distances in the US was a problem which didn’t exist in smaller European countries:

    The History Channel: The Food That Built America
    S3 E2
    A Cold One
    42m | 2022

    In the late 1800s, German immigrants Joseph Schlitz and Captain Frederick Pabst find themselves in a battle for beer dominance. In their fight for one upmanship they will help create the most popular alcoholic beverage on the planet, introduce lager beer to the nation, and become two of the biggest companies on Earth for half a century.


    And, of course, these days anything beer you want is available in the US with an explosion in the number of microbreweries here.

    This from an interested teetotaler who doesn’t like destroying brain cells or getting a mild headache from just one beer.

  15. Honestly I think it’s because in the States it’s HOT.

    Say you’re at the beach in Florida and the ambient temperature is 92° with a relative humidity of 75%, do you really want a warm beer? I think not

    The average summer temperature in England is what 70° – 76° F or 21° – 24.5°C, in the southern States that is the temperatures we see at the end of Autumn.

  16. I didn’t know that brits drink beer “warm” – but than even I sometimes drink it slightly colder than room temperature (I store it in garage that is only a bit colder than my house on summer). But what really got me suprised is that they have beer that is not fizzy by purpose – I got it on London airport. And no – they did not trick meninto drinking beer someone forgot to finish:) I was on the menu and once waiter explained it to me I requested some other “standard” beer – later on she brought me my beer and the “fizzy free” in small glass.

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