Good Beer Test

My friend,Jan Whitaker, who blogs at Restaurant-ing Through History sent me this item. I am pretty sure Lyn Hoffman wrote it

One provocative suggestion comes from physicist Mark Denny, author of the entertaining little book Froth!. Denny suggests that you pour out about six ounces of beer, cover it and allow it to go flat and come to room temperature. Taste it without its chill or its bubbles. Good beer, Denny says will still taste good when it’s flat and warm. Bad beer will display all its faults after the masks of temperature and gassiness are removed. Denny concedes that without foam, beer loses it’s refreshing character, but he’s not out to make you happy here. He’s trying to offer up a tool for evaluating beer by removing some of the distractions.

It’s easy to see one objection to this idea: each beer is designed with a serving temperature in mind, so what’s the point of evaluating-and comparing-beers under conditions that weren’t what the brewer had in mind. We wouldn’t start an ice cream tasting by melting all the samples first and we wouldn’t serve portions of pizza at body temperature. Closer to home, we’ve all tasted the unpleasantness of wine served too cold or too warm.

And yet there’s something appealing about the simplicity of the Denny Good Beer Test. We know that human taste buds start to lose their efficiency when tasting liquids below 40F (4C) and we may suuspect that all the emphasis on super-chilled beer is just a way of covering up some pretty foul stuff. Denny suggests that if we were able to look past the distractions (serving temperature), we could at last see the essentials (the ingredients and the brewing techniques).

I’m more curious than sceptical. I think he might be on to something even though I’m not sure what that something is. So I’d like to ask you to give the Denny Good Beer Test a try. If you can bring yourself to sacrifice a few ounces of beer for the sake of discussion, pour some out, let it sit and give it a taste. I’ll be doing this myself and I look forward to hearing your results and discussing them in public.

I haven’t tried this yet but I have a few thoughts.  I agree if beer is really cold in a frosted mug, it doesn’t have much taste. However I think warm beer, which is how the English serve all drinks, doesn’t taste very good. I still think you can just ask for your beer cold but not iced and then decide if you like the way it tastes. My son feels there is nothing wrong with pizza at room temperature and plenty of people eat cold pizza for breakfast.

One thought on “Good Beer Test”

  1. Hi Amy,
    I haven’t tried the test but I can easily imagine how bad some beers would taste if warm (especially the ones that taste bad cold), and that others would fare better. I’m curious to hear from someone who tries this — but I don’t want to be the guinea pig. — Jan

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