Pass Me a Cold One! The Joys of a Frosty Beer
by Kirk Bodnar in Culinaire Magazine
This past Victoria Day weekend, I decided to forego any camping or slushy skiing plans, and rather focused on getting a head start on some yard work. Of course, being a typical “Alberta May- Long”, it was necessary to wait out the rain (and snow), but as the Monday rolled around, the weather turned out to be beautiful, and I was able to get in a solid day in the yard.
After spending four hours under a warm sun, my amazing wife must have felt that I deserved an ice-cold beer (bless her heart…). She quickly realized that we were out of the flavourful craft beer that I typically enjoyed – so she went with a tall can of PBR that was left over from a recent visit from my in-laws. She reservedly poured it into a glass and brought it out to me. And you know what? That big, frosty glass of gorgeousness completely hit the spot! Ice-cold beer on a hot day just works – who knew?
Call them lawnmower beers, patio beers, or even camping beers – in any case, hot summer weather and ice-cold beers go together like bacon ‘n eggs, or Bert and Ernie. The only problem here is that chilling a beer down to ice-cold temperatures – though refreshing on a hot day – does absolutely nothing good for the flavour of a beer. So why do most of us prefer our beer to be
One of the main reasons that the big-name, light lagers are marketed in such a way as to be served ice cold (some brands even integrate special temperature-reactive ink on the bottles and cans that change colour when they have reached the desired “cold- certified” temperature) is that they taste better when very cold. Put simply, when beer is very cold, the flavour and aromatic compounds are greatly subdued. So beers that inherently lack desirable flavours essentially taste better when their flavour and aroma is diminished further at cold temperatures.
Consider the purpose of the different styles of beer. Some beers are rich and bold, and are intended to be “sipping beers” or perhaps beer to enjoy with hearty food or a sweet dessert. In this case, you would not want your beer to be ice cold, as you would want all of the rich, roasted flavours and aromas to come through. On the other hand, some beers are light and refreshing and are intended to be enjoyed in a sunny German biergarten in the summer, for example. You would definitely want these to be well chilled and easy to drink – a refreshing beverage that accompanies the social aspect of the biergarten experience, not one that requires contemplation.
One such beer style is Kölsch, the style native to Cologne, Germany. Kölsch is a very light and refreshing blond beer – that appears in nearly every way to be a lager, but is in fact an ale (somewhat of a hybrid to be exact, but let’s not get caught up in the details – just don’t make the mistake of calling it a lager to a local in Cologne – trust me…). Although served cold, Kölsch is actually quite flavourful; the best examples of the style possessing a subtle but surprisingly complex malt character and a pleasant dose of crisp hoppiness.
So if you are one that prefers your beer ice cold, you are definitely not alone. Just be sure to stick to a beer style that is light and mild, not one with intense, robust flavours, as cold temperatures will only take away from those beers.There really is nothing wrong with appreciating a beer for its refreshing properties rather than its intense robustness, I suppose… as long as you do dedicate some time to appreciating the complex nature of flavourful beers as well. But that is for another day – I just want to sit on the patio with a cold one.
Alberta is fortunate enough to have access to a couple of true Kölsch beers from Cologne, Germany - my favourite being Früh, which is a fantastic example of the style. Light and crisp, and perfect for the patio, uh, I mean biergarten… (330mL bottle, $15-18 CSCP +775544)
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Three Berry Kölsch Local Calgary brewery, Village, have also recently come out with their version of Kölsch – though choosing to take it in a slightly different direction. Their current seasonal beer, Village Triplet, is a Kölsch with a bit of a twist. It incorporates a fruity element with the addition of blackberries, blueberries, and saskatoon berries. It is a fresh and tasty take on the style that will be a big hit on local patios this summer. (6pk, $14 CSCP +772873)
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Another concoction common in German Biergartens in the summer are Radlers – a mixture of beer and lemonade or grapefruit juice. Radler means cyclist in German, and it is true that the drink is commonly enjoyed by cyclists due to its low alcohol level and very refreshing character. Definitely good cold! Austrian Brewery Stiegl makes a very tasty version with grapefruit juice. (500mL can, $4 CSPC +334052)
I normally wouldn’t suggest a macro beer, but I have to admit that PBR can be delicious when ice cold after mowing the lawn. After all, it is a favourite among the well-bearded and waxed moustache types out there, so it must be good… right? (6pk cans, $11 CSPC + 184259)