A friend of mine requested a few months back that we do a temperature study as one of our beer tastings. So, this month we did a temperature study as one of our tastings.
From my perspective, I knew what the answers would be and looked forward to tasting the confirmations, but I tell you, the true joy of conducting this little experiment was watching all the light bulbs flickering over the heads of those in attendance. It was a great deal of fun, and I recommend that if you’re strapped for ideas for a “next step” tasting for some of your new converts, you consider giving this one a shot.
I put together a range of four beers, which included two lagers and two ales, running the gamut from light to dark. I served them at three different temperatures: 30F, 42F and 58F. Instead of putting together a laundry list of notes to tell participants what to expect, I put together a form for them to fill out as we worked our way through each beer, taking note of mouthfeel, aroma and flavors at each temperature.
The beers involved: Corona Extra, Negra Modelo, Two Brothers Domaine DuPage and Bell’s Kalamazoo stout.
To note, it seems that these hands-on activities have been very popular with my “students.” I think I’m going to lay off all my informative-ness a little more often as I move forward. Like this one, our blind tasting was extremely well-received.
Of course, Corona was much easier to navigate in its ice-cold version. And the Kalamazoo Stout was pukka at 58F.
But what were the nuances of learning to be teased out of the evening? Generally, everyone enjoyed the more inviting mouthfeel of the warmer versions of the beers; they were a little creamier and enjoyable. Negra Modelo was more popular at mid-range, though I thought 48F would have been best.
The Kalamazoo at (what was truly 22F and starting to slush, since it had been in the freezer up until it emerged as the last beer of the evening) its coldest was a clone of iced coffee in every regard. At 43F, the aroma dipped, but at 58F, bounced back with all its stouty, roasta-choco-tastic love.
What was interesting was Domaine Dupage, a Chicago-brewed French Country Ale. I knew that this would be quite good at the warmest spot and have looked forward to comparing the 40-range and the 50-range. As it turned out, this beer had two groups of fans: some liked it cold and some liked it warm.
It had two groups of fans because it presented as two different beers (actually, three). The fruitiness was very bright and enjoyable when this beer was served in the mid-20s. And when we got to the 50s, the fruit turned darker and more dredged in brown sugar. Darker, brooding and a fuller hug of a beer. Some people really enjoyed the cold version. Call me surprised. And call me interested to stick the two versions of this beer into a blind tasting down the road.
Fun, fun, lotsa fun. Am I surprised about that? No.