It was my birthday recently, and like any good Brit, I had a few beers. In fact, I posted photos of them in an album on my Facebook page. A friend of mine (Hi Tina) said in a comment about one of them that she hoped I drank it warm, since I was English. This reminded me that a blog post about the "warm beer fallacy" was long overdue.
British beer is mostly brewed to be drunk at "cellar temperature." Most pubs in Britain have underground cellars, where the kegs of draught beers are kept. The beer is therefore cold, because it is kept underground, but it is not chilled. If UK beer were to be chilled to the degree that American beer usually is, it would lose most of its flavor. One notable exception is Guinness, which is usually a little colder than most other British beers, and is a lot colder in its trendy "Extra Cold" variety.
On the other hand, American beer is brewed to be chilled. Sometimes the heavy "mugs" that are used in bars are actually frozen. You see signs outside bars saying "Coldest Beer in Town" which is meant to be attractive. To me, "Tastiest Beer in Town" would be more likely to get me through the door. If you drank most American beers at "cellar temperature," they would almost certainly taste bad, something like cereal in water.
Having addressed that fallacy, I would like to talk about another one. That is the assumption that American beer is bad. True, the very popular beers such as Budweiser, Coors and Miller are what I like to call "Beer for people who don't like the taste of beer," especially in their "Lite" versions. I was disappointed to hear that President Obama opted for Bud Lite during the recent so-called Beer Summit at The Whitehouse. However, there are many fantastic American-brewed beers. Most come from small independent breweries, often referred to as microbreweries. Some of these are made in the restaurants in which they are served, and others are bottled and distributed in some of the better liquor stores. Major breweries have tried to cash in on the trendiness of microbrews. Blue Moon, a Belgian-style beer that contains orange peel and coriander, is brewed by Coors. Keen to try to keep its microbrewery look and feel, Coors started by putting "Brewed by CBC" (Coors Brewing Company) on the bottle, but that has recently been completely removed, and it is currently advertised as being made by "The Blue Moon Brewing Company."
One beer that I am enjoying these days is Samuel Adams Boston Ale, which is available quite widely. On my birthday, I managed to locate Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, which was wonderfully hoppy to these British taste buds. If you saw my series of blog posts from my recent vacation in San Diego, you'll probably recall that I found some great local beers, including Red Trolley, Stone's Pale Ale and Firehouse American Pale Ale.
I have been helped in my quest for good beer by my recent discovery of the Beer Advocate website. Operated by Beer Advocate magazine, one can join free, and gain access to many reviews of beers and establishments serving beer. One neat feature is that you can enter a beer that you particularly like, and it will suggest some excellent examples of similar beers you might enjoy.
I love talking beer! Please do share some suggestions with me and your fellow readers by posting a comment.