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Why temperature matters

CATEGORIES: Beer Editor  

This has been covered before, but it’s worth repeating: Temperature greatly influences how you experience beer. The colder the beer, the more restricted its character will be on the tongue (and in the nose).

A few weeks ago during a group tasting, I popped open a brand new bottle of Uinta Birthday Suit, an annual sour ale celebrating the brewery’s anniversary (the Salt Lake City brewery turns 21 this year!). Due to an unusually cold cooler, an extended tasting session leading up to popping open the bottle, and a somewhat irresponsible (or, perhaps, act of forgetful neglect) decision not to allow the bottle to warm up a bit, I served the beer at a temperature one might consider frigid. The result? It was good, but had a sharpness that felt a bit overwhelming and lacked the kind of complexity you hope for in a sour.

Fast-forward to last week, when the staff at DRAFT sat down to sample our second bottle. This time, I put Birthday Suit in an ideal-temperature fridge, and we allowed it to breathe a bit before we tasted the stuff. I was floored at the difference: The beer showcased brilliant yellow fruits that I missed before (think lemon and pineapple), had delicious orange undertones, and a puckering sourness that was playfully perfect. In short, the beer went from being OK during first tasting, to—what we would consider—world class the second time, all because of temperature.

There are many factors to consider when planning a tasting, temperature being a very important one. Also important: Pick up a bottle of Birthday Suit—that beer is really delicious.


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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