Why does beer taste different at different temperatures?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by inchrisin, Jul 10, 2013.

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  1. inchrisin

    inchrisin (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I'm curious to know if anyone has any feedback or good links as to why beer tastes different at different temperatures.

    For instance:
    A crisp American lager will taste better at 40F and will not taste good at 60F
    A Russian Imperial Stout will taste bad at 40F and will really start to mellow out at 60F.
    Why is this?
     
  2. gcamparone

    gcamparone (0) Dec 6, 2011 Rhode Island
    Society Trader

    Cold beer numbs your tastebuds. Therefore when american lager gets warm, you start to realize just how nasty it tastes, and vice versa for a RIS
     
  3. Kikodamian

    Kikodamian (0) Feb 9, 2013 Florida

    Different flavors travel at different temperatures. If you can get a good head at a desirable temperature, it makes a world of difference - as I'm sure you noticed
     
  4. ivorycannon

    ivorycannon (0) Feb 21, 2013 Indiana

    For years and I mean years, I have been putting my Dreadnaughts in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. When it comes to Imperials in the freezer and as they warm up; it is freakin fantastic!!!!! And to quote Kikodamian different flavors travel at different temps.
     
  5. whiskey

    whiskey (0) Feb 25, 2012 California

    Yeah, I used to put DIPA's in the freezer until my palate adjusted. It took me awhile to realize how much better they were a bit warmer.
     
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  6. bayareahustla

    bayareahustla (0) Jul 13, 2012 California
    Trader

    this. cold numbs taste buds.
     
  7. ivorycannon

    ivorycannon (0) Feb 21, 2013 Indiana

    some, not all it depends on the quality!
     
  8. bayareahustla

    bayareahustla (0) Jul 13, 2012 California
    Trader

    i agree, ipas are jam packed full of flavor, even at 35 degrees they punch you in the mouth. Let one warm and it might end up punching you in the temple and killing you........... get it?
     
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  9. whiskey

    whiskey (0) Feb 25, 2012 California

    My statement was with the assumption that we're on BA and we're drinking good beer. :slight_smile:

    Shitty beer is always better cold!
     
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  10. shredder83

    shredder83 (0) Feb 21, 2013 Illinois

    This.

    Couldn't have said it better myself.
     
  11. shredder83

    shredder83 (0) Feb 21, 2013 Illinois

    Like what has been said already, after you start not just "drinking" but really drinking amazingly brewed craft beers you come to learn a few things:

    1. AAL's only taste good when they're super cold or you're already drunk.
    2. If any style beer is too cold, your palate will be slightly numbed and you won't be able to taste your beer as well.
    3. Most styles of beer are better when they've been given a bit of time out of the fridge...or a bit in the fridge, because the flavors open up more when they aren't as cold.
    4. Just because everyone else loves something doesn't mean you will. Experiment, try new styles, in different glassware, and at different temperatures; you never know what you'll fall in love with unless you try for yourself. :slight_smile:
     
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  12. Casey3236

    Casey3236 (0) Sep 14, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Taste is 80% smell. There is more evaporation at higher temperature and therefore more vapors travel thru the sinuses and into the olfactory sensors. Hence, more flavor at higher temps. As was said here, crappy beer is less crappy cold because you can't taste as much of it.
     
  13. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Volatile aroma compounds moving faster at higher temps, so more of them are able to be released. Baaaaasically what Casey said. Same reason why foods served cold need to be seasoned more heavily.
     
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  14. ivorycannon

    ivorycannon (0) Feb 21, 2013 Indiana

    LOL shitty beer does not have temp! I understand what you are trying to say, but you know as well as I do, truly shitty beer, no matter the temp, will not save it. Of course, it is all a matter of opinion!
     
  15. DougC123

    DougC123 (435) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    One of the things I like about Heady Topper is that over the course of the 16 oz, it changes for me. Out of the fridge at 38 it is one thing, but by the end at 45-50 it is another.

    I still love a 35 degree PBR on a hot day, and a few gulps later when it is gone it is still 35 degrees.
     
  16. joeebbs

    joeebbs (0) Apr 29, 2009 Pennsylvania

    if cold numbs taste buds how come I can taste the flavor of ice cream?
     
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  17. DougC123

    DougC123 (435) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    But haven't you noticed it is less bold the longer you are eating it? Your taste buds are getting more and more numb.
     
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  18. LeRose

    LeRose (1,107) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    This lays a little science on the subject without getting too deep. This search term - TRPM5 and taste and Temperature - got me to this article (the real paper referenced isn't free). There's a bunch of heavier stuff on this and most of the other searches I tried came up with not much specific on the question of why taste perception changes with temperature, just studies saying that it does change with temperature, not why. Interesting is that this is delinked from aroma but there's articles on that as well.


    http://www.health.am/ab/more/how_temperature_influences_our_taste/
     
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    That article was an interesting read but you were correct in pointing out: “Interesting is that this is delinked from aroma …”

    We frequently use the word “taste” but a more accurate word would be “flavor”. What we are really interested in are the flavors that beers provide. Perceiving flavors is a combination of our taste buds with our perception of aromas; in my opinion the aroma perception is more important than our taste perception.

    There is a ‘popular’ experiment where you close somebody’s nose, blindfold them and ask them to bite an onion and ask them to describe the taste/flavor of what they are eating. Some people will say they just ate an apple.

    Cheers!
     
  20. LeRose

    LeRose (1,107) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Exactly...as we say up heah in Massachusetts it's wicked complicated! This work - and there is a TON of it that pops up - is focused on the physiological (or I guess neurological?) response of the pathway, so the mechanics of ONE aspect of what makes up flavor. Add the interaction with aromas and that changes the whole picture. There was an article that did a similar study to this with aroma and temperature but except for a couple sentences it was in one of the Eastern languages is couldn't read much, but I bet there's more. Google Scholar search and you get rid of the "fluffy" stuff and can usually at least read the abstracts.

    Cheers.
     
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  21. dar482

    dar482 (0) Mar 9, 2007 New York
    Society

    Sigh... Lager ignorance...
     
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  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    And you sir are Wicked Haad Coa!

    Cheers!

    P.S. The above is Wicked Hard Core for you non-Massachusettsans
     
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  23. LeRose

    LeRose (1,107) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    There goes another computer keyboard an monitor ruined with coffee spray...thank goodness there's no beer allowed in the office. That would be a sinful waste!
     
  24. Peter_Wolfe

    Peter_Wolfe (0) Jul 5, 2013 Oregon

    This is true, but incomplete. If you'll permit me, I'm going to beernerd out for a moment. There is a relationship between a compound's molecular weight, its volatility, and its attraction to the solvent in which it is dissolved (beer, in this case) that determines how much of it is present as gas above a liquid. Some compounds (such as the larger 15 carbon hop aroma sesquiterpenoids - humulene epoxide, for example) are so heavy they simply aren't very volatile at 40F when in beer. They will increase in volatility as the temperature increase, indeed because they have greater velocity to break the beer's surface tension as Yogibeer (love the name) pointed out. Also, carbon dioxide is less soluble in beer as the temperature increases, and the evolution of CO2 bubbles can also help with volatility of many aroma compounds; they are attracted to a CO2 bubble's surface because they (and the bubble) are relatively hydrophobic. They will "ride" the bubble and some of them will escape with it when it reaches the surface.

    There are some good papers out there on it. It's due in some part to the presence of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels on your tongue; these are thermally gated channels that allow movement of Na+ and Ca2+ ions in and out of your cells. Here is an excerpt from one such paper:


    Okay, I'm done beernerding out now. Thanks :slight_smile:
     
  25. gcamparone

    gcamparone (0) Dec 6, 2011 Rhode Island
    Society Trader


    I think we can all agree that a) this thread is focused on american adjunct lagers, not all lagers and b) american adjunct lagers are not meant to be consumed for their amazing taste.
     
  26. dar482

    dar482 (0) Mar 9, 2007 New York
    Society

    I don't know where you jumped from "crisp American lager" to AAL. Totally different things. And there's no "we" can all agree. You were the first reply and assumed that's what he meant instead of reading specifically what he wrote.
     
  27. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois


    Aaaaaaaawesome! Thanks man.
     
  28. kcbaby

    kcbaby (0) Jun 30, 2010 Massachusetts

    Have you got references to these papers? They seem like a good read.
     
  29. Roguer

    Roguer (1,878) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    It's not just numb taste buds, although I'm not discounting that. I notice this significantly with Dubbels and Quads. Partially I think there's an aspect of the release of carbonation (which might be more based on time than temperature), certainly I think there's an aspect of the yeast. It's undeniable that certain flavors are more brought to the forefront as a dub or quad warms, and even the aroma changes.

    To put it in slightly more specific terms, I think many of the important factors in beer flavor - yeast, carbonation as a vessel - are less active or reactive at colder temperatures. As the beer warms, more of these are imparted. Maybe there's a lot more to it than that; this is realistically my anecdotal impressions from drinking beer as it warms, and observing the shift in flavor (which is not inherently unpleasant).
     
  30. inchrisin

    inchrisin (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana


    A lot of keyboards are dishwasher safe. Don't ask me how I know this. :slight_smile:
     
  31. darkandhoppy

    darkandhoppy (468) Dec 26, 2008 Connecticut

    same reason Ice Cream does. When rock hard, Ice cream has trace amounts of flavor but when it's softened and gushy, look out!

    bottom line, flavor is totally temp dependent. All foods really "bloom" in flavor as they warm.
     
  32. inchrisin

    inchrisin (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana


    I'd say that an RIS tastes just about as bad COLD as and AAL does WARM.
     
  33. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    I know the bros aren't heavy on stickies, but if this was locked and stickied... it might cut down on future thread repetition, since you can't really hope for a better answer.
     
  34. kingmaker

    kingmaker (0) Nov 20, 2012 Louisiana

    Simple biology. Colder temperatures prevent the nerves from firing properly, be they pain receptors or taste receptors.

    As for tastes changing, the multitude of molecules within a beer, it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that some change atom bonding over even such a short temperature difference as fridge to room temperature. That structural difference affects the way your tastes buds respond it.
     
  35. Peter_Wolfe

    Peter_Wolfe (0) Jul 5, 2013 Oregon

    I have to be on a different computer to have access to them, I'll look them up again tomorrow and message you. Cheers!
     
  36. smekermann

    smekermann (0) Oct 18, 2006 Canada (BC)

    man, i guess i'm just such a stone cold badass that i prefer all my beer, adjunct lager or otherwise, to be just slightly colder than room temperature (i don't drink a lot of adjunct lagers). it lets the beer bring out a lot more flavors (good or bad) than if it were cold. and on that note, i actually prefer my BA (or hell, even regular russian imperial) stouts to be either room temperature or just slightly below that.

    i don't think i've ever encountered an ale/beer where i would have prefered to drink it ice cold. at the same time, maybe if i drank a lot more adjunct lagers, my opinion would change. then again, if i drank more adjunct lagers, i probably wouldn't be on this site.
     
  37. kcbaby

    kcbaby (0) Jun 30, 2010 Massachusetts

    Cool, thank you!
     
  38. BradenMK

    BradenMK (0) Sep 24, 2012 Alaska

    Really, really appreciate your input as a learn-ed member of the "professional brew-chemist" crowd. I totally should have gone into molecular gastronomy...
     
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