For example, from the label of Uinta's Crooked Line Labyrinth Black Ale:

Flavors are enhanced when served cool, not frigid.

How does serving temperature affect the taste of beers? By "How?" I'm asking more about its effects on flavor, e.g. hoppiness, crispness, the aftertaste, etc. more so than the chemical process.* That is, what flavors become pronounced or dulled with the changing of temperature?

There's a question, What temperature should I serve my beer?, where an answerer states, for example, that letting darker beers warm up brings out new flavors—but what flavors? It doesn't seem to be the case that cooling kills all desirable flavors in general—for example for pilsners, lagers, and hefeweizens, "letting them get warm changes their flavor profile for the worse" (from the same answer).

* Knowing the chemical process, e.g. how certain elements or ingredients react or suspend differently according to temperature, would be very interesting indeed, but it seems difficult to find solid literature / knowledge on the subject.

3 Answers 3


There is a blog post which also cites this article discussing the chemical effects of cooling and dilution on whiskey.

The post concluded that the mix of dilution and cooling causes the alcohol to become soluble, which releases the flavour.

Ethanol becomes more soluble when whiskey is diluted and cooled, this promotes release of flavour molecules

I think this theory is applicable to beer, but with a few caveats; firstly, beer is already diluted and doesn't need any more water added; secondly, the alcohol content of beer is much lower than that of whiskey, so not as much cooling would be required.


There are a few components to the interaction between flavor and temperature, but one key one is simply that cold numbs your tongue. At least, extreme cold (e.g. "cold as the rockies").

As such, overly cold beer will dull any strong flavor (hoppiness, bitterness, etc) and hide weaker ones.


wow. "cold numbs your tongue." Seems like a very unusual answer to a sensible question. I can say that each time I try different types of ale or beer I like to read the label for their opinion but most of the time I start with fully chilled and pour some in a glass and let it settle down then take a sip and wait for maybe 5 minutes and try another and so on until I get an opinion of how that particular brew changes and then read their opinion (if one exists) again to see if my experience agrees or to compare what they must be trying to focus on based on their opinion. Once I figure it out then that is how I drink that brew. Although I accidentally poured some Chimay Grand Reserve blue label and forgot it one night. When I returned maybe an hour later, it was fairly room temperature. The amazing thing is that it smelled fruity like a wine and even had a wine like taste. I use a wide wine glass for my sampling so it captured some of the vapors probably better than a mug or a bottle would have. I do not always have an hour to wait to let that happen but it was a pleasant surprise. Usually with the Chimay I let the massive head settle down then take a sip because at cold temp it has one characteristic that I like. Then I wait for maybe close to 10 minutes and drink some more. Typically between 10 and 20 minutes is the part I probably like most for general drinking. Right after it starts warming up from frige temp it begins to seem too much like drinking alcohol. I can feel and taste the alcohol then it gets a little warmer and begins to take on a sweeter malty flavor. Then allowed to sit longer it goes into a less attractive taste only to eventually seem like wine after it makes it to another level of warmness. Sometimes I pour a 2nd glass after the first reaches a certain flavor and sort of alternate between them to enjoy the different flavors that all came out of the same bottle.

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