Does it matter if beer gets cold then warm?

Answered by Jason Smith

When it comes to the impact of temperature changes on beer, it is important to consider the context. Let’s first explore what happens when beer goes from cold to warm, and then warm back to cold.

When a beer is chilled and then allowed to warm up to room temperature, the flavor may not be significantly affected. While some beer enthusiasts may argue that certain flavors are more pronounced when a beer is slightly warmer, for most people, the difference in taste will not be drastic. However, it is worth noting that certain delicate flavors, such as hop aroma, can be more easily lost when a beer is warmed up.

On the other hand, if beer is exposed to high temperatures for an extended period, such as during shipping without refrigeration, it can lead to noticeable changes in flavor. When beer is subjected to extreme heat, the aging process accelerates, causing the beer to degrade more quickly. This can result in off-flavors, such as a cardboard-like taste or a “skunky” aroma, similar to what can happen when a beer is exposed to light.

Imagine a scenario where beer is being transported in a non-refrigerated truck during the scorching summer months. The inside of the truck can become extremely hot, potentially reaching temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This prolonged exposure to high temperatures can have a negative impact on the quality of the beer.

The effects of heat on beer can be further exacerbated if the beer has already gone through multiple temperature cycles. Each time a beer is heated and then cooled, it undergoes some degree of thermal stress, which can accelerate the aging process. So, if a beer has already experienced temperature fluctuations during production, storage, or transportation, it may be more susceptible to the negative effects of heat.

To mitigate these issues, it is crucial for breweries and distributors to take measures to ensure proper storage and transportation conditions for beer. This includes refrigeration during shipping, especially in hot climates or during the summer months. By maintaining a consistently cool temperature, the risk of heat-related flavor changes is minimized.

While letting a beer go from cold to warm and back again may not have a significant impact on its flavor, subjecting beer to prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially during shipping without refrigeration, can lead to noticeable changes in taste. To preserve the quality of beer, it is essential to store and transport it under proper refrigeration conditions, particularly in hot climates.