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Some of my college friends like to tell me that refrigerating beer, then taking it out (allowing it to warm up), and re-refrigerating it causes the beer to lose its taste. I've even known some to throw out beer that has gone through this scenario.

I've looked around on the internet a bit, and there doesn't seem to be any real evidence to the claim. I found an article on Beer Advocate, where people seem to agree that:

  1. UV light exposure causes negative effects (only a real problem for bottled beer).
  2. Extreme fluctuations in temperature are generally not good for the beer.
  3. Bottled beers can sometimes re-ferment at higher temperatures, causing over-carbonation.

Nothing conclusive.

My question is: does refrigerating, unrefrigerating, and re-refrigerating beer negatively affect the taste of beer?

  • This doesn't seem to be a notable claim, can you provide some examples? Or is it simply your friends' idea? – Sklivvz Dec 24 '14 at 0:17
  • Wit a little more searching I came across: this source that seems to suggest that it doesn't matter, and this source which seems to suggest that re-refrigerating is bad for beer, and definitely bad for wine. I did hear about this from my friends, though it seems to be a general superstition(?). There seems, however, to be scientific evidence of beer being affected by light. – Chris Cirefice Dec 24 '14 at 0:43
  • @oddthinking thanks for the edit. I figured the title needed work, couldn't figure out how to word it. – Chris Cirefice Dec 26 '14 at 3:43
  • @warren Good catch. I didn't even think to look for a beer-based SE... then again who would? Vote to close. – Chris Cirefice Dec 29 '14 at 16:32
  • @ChrisCirefice - who wouldn't think to look for beer-related questions on the Beer.SE? :) – warren Dec 29 '14 at 18:16
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Beer is meant to be stored in a cool, dark place. Light is indeed bad for it and causes "skunking" which produces literally the same chemical skunks produce.

Lots of times re-refrigerating beer implies the beer was left out. Was it left out in a place exposed to light? Particularly sunlight? It may not be the fact that it was exposed to higher temperatures that was the culprit, but the light. Warmer temperatures certainly seem like the most obvious offenders for a sub-par beer, but light is far more dangerous.

Temperature for the most part should not be an issue. Anything from like 32-75 F should not be an issue, although somewhere between 45-55 F is the ideal cellaring temperature. To break the upper limit of safe temperatures pretty much requires you to leave the beer outdoors during a hot summer where it will likely be joined by the bigger threat of light.

Long story short: cellaring temperatures are for long-term (12 months+) storage and anything between freezing and high-end room temperature shouldn't have any adverse effects if stored someplace dark. The idea that beer needs to remain ice-cold from the moment the yeast is added is a bunch of BMC marketing BS.

  • Is it fair to assume this is then a non-issue for a canned beer within reasonable room temperatures? – LowlyDBA Jan 2 '15 at 20:09
  • +1 for pointing out the correlation between leaving beer out and exposure to light. – Andrew Cheong Jan 4 '15 at 15:02
  • Cans will be fine, yes. As for bottles brown ones can probably take a couple of days of light and be fine as brown glass blocks some 90% of light. Green only blocks around 40% though and clear nearly 0%, so I would not expose either of them unless I was drinking them. Of course its best to just keep everything someplace cool and dark. – greggle138 Jan 5 '15 at 15:45
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  1. UV light exposure causes negative effects (only a real problem for bottled beer).

UV light has a photochemical impact on hops. This causes it to have a flavor and aroma of a skunk. Brown bottles help lower the amount of UV light that can get to the beer, and with cans this is a non-issue.

  1. Extreme fluctuations in temperature are generally not good for the beer.

Extreme temperature fluctuations could impact the flavor of any drink, but most likely will be too subtle to notice.

  1. Bottled beers can sometimes re-ferment at higher temperatures, causing over-carbonation.

Yeast needs sugars to ferment, by the time the bottle is on the shelves, the fermentable sugars are completely fermented and the yeast is in a dormant stage. However, this doesn't mean yeast cannot still affect the flavor of the beer. If the beer is bottle conditioned, then it still has live yeast cultures and extra care should be taken to keep it below high temperatures (80+ F.) for long periods of time. You should not be concerned of it exploding (over carbonating), that only happens in homebrews where they added too much sugars or didn't sanitize everything properly.

The majority of commercial beers are filtered to such a high degree that there is little to no live yeast to be concerned about. Some beers are even pasteurized to kill any remaining yeast, removing the possibility of it affecting flavor and extending its shelf life.


Bottom line is, avoid temperature fluctuations as much as you can, but its not something you should throw away perfectly good beer for. If you are a supertaster that can detect the subtle flavor changes, give it away to one of the 75% of us who are not.


For a full scientific study with facts and figures way over my head you can see: Stability profile of flavour-active ester compounds in ale and lager beer during storage

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