The minute we moved into our new house, which came complete with a coveted basement refrigerator, I took a cue from what I saw at the bars and threw a couple of pint glasses in the freezer. It became a habit to grab a frozen glass as we pulled a bottle from the fridge for drinking on the back porch. But as I learned more about beer serving and tasting over the past few years, I wondered if I might be doing something wrong by keeping my glasses icy cold. Was I revealing myself as an amateur?
The party line among beer experts is that we drink our brews too cold in this country. As Ryan Dorchak, a Certified Cicerone and the general manager of my favorite local beer bar Cloverleaf Tavern explains, "Cold masks flavor in beer." For those of us who are seeking out the subtle hop varietals and caramelized malt flavors in our craft beers, a serving temperature between 40 and 55˚F is considered ideal. And at bars, where keg rooms and coolers keep beers under climate-controlled chill, a frozen glass is overkill.
It's a cold, harsh realization to come to terms with the fact you've been pouring expensive beer into a glass and losing the flavor profiles the brewers worked so hard to perfect. So I've stopped using pre-chilled pint glasses for the beers I'm pulling straight from the refrigerator.
But there's a compelling reason why I still save shelf space in my freezer for a few pint glasses: They're the most effective way I've found to quickly bring a room-temperature beer to a drinkable temperature.
Part of me wondered if the quick-chill effect I tasted when decanting a bottle from my beer cellar into a frosty glass was just psychosomatic. But a quick test with a probe thermometer proved that science was on my side: a 62˚F beer poured into a frozen pint glass chilled drastically before my eyes, dropping to 48˚F within two minutes. Two minutes! Who needs a climate-controlled keg room when you've got a square foot of freezer space?
So there's no need to do double-chilling duties—save those chilled glasses for room-temperature beers, knowing that a beer from the fridge is ready to drink on its own.