Germany= Warm Beer

Where did this misconception of German Beer come from? It is a meme that has been passed on pretty strongly by Americans. Namely, that beer in Germany is served warm.

Beer was probably being served chilled in Germany abd Austria long before Beer was even being brewed in America.

Funny, when I was living in the States I always heard that about English beer.

In my admittedly limited experience (I never have developed a taste for the stuff), Americans are somewhat more likely to drink their beer really ice cold than Europeans. The difference is probably only a few degrees, but mountains of misunderstanding have been built from smaller molehills…

My understanding of this myth comes from when there was no refrigeration and beer might really be served at room temperature…the cellars room temp, which is usually pretty cool anyways. I could be way off base with this, but it seemed to make sense.

I always heard it about English beer. And I don’t think it was a myth, I just think the idea is dated, and no longer true. It’s a stubborn meme, though.

I think kinoons has the origin of the meme right, but someone else may come along to elaborate (or else disabuse us of our foolish notions).

Some old people or people with stomach complaints do prefer beer warmer than it comes from the tap (beer warmer from an online shop - you fill the warmer with warm water) but it’s very much a minority taste - I haven’t read of warm beer being more popular in the recent past (the last few generations).

It is true that we like our cold drinks cold but not ice-cold (said to be bad for the stomach; that’s why we don’t use ice in drinks nearly as much as Americans). For most people cellar-cold will do nicely for refreshments in summer.

English Real Ale needs to be cool but not iced and may change flavor positively when allowed to warm towards room temperature (about 60, not 70 degrees). Real Ale iced would miss out most of the real experiemce because they are brewed to be drunk at the above temperature. For the same reason (design) lagers and pilsners taste poor when drunk warm.
Some German dark beers might also benefit from being drunk at ‘room temperature’.

All lagers and pilsners are served cold in Britain (about 42 degrees plus or minus. The latest fad for really iced beers has led to beer being brewed to be drunk ‘iced’, that is at about 35 degrees.

Historically, remember, all beers would have been served at cellar temperature at minimum, which is closer to room temperature than iced.

Recently living in the poor-but-still-hip part of east Berlin for a year (Friedrichshain), I actually saw much warm beer consumption.

Most stores only keep a small amount of beer refrigerated. The non-refrigerated beer is cheaper. BUT, the stores were typically either unheated or barely heated, so the beer was far from room temperature most of the year.

In the winter (9 months), the beer off the shelf was sufficiently chill for my taste. As “summer” gradually rolled around, the beer gradually got warmer, and it never bothered me.

(Beer in bars was always cold.)

A few random and likely-to-be-wrong speculations:
[li]While refrigeration in the prosperous post-WWII era was nearly ubiquitious in the US, it doesn’t seem to have been quite as common in postwar Europe. Beer, in particular, may have been served cool rather than chilled in Europe, which was contrary to the experience of American servicemen and tourists.[/li][li]As has been noted, Americans have a proclivity for putting ice in their drinks (understandable during a humid Southern or hot & dry Southwestern summer, not quite so comprehensible year-round) while this is, or at least was, uncommon in Europe. So Americans may just have a different general standard for “warm” as opposed to Europeans.[/li][li]Traditional American pilsner beers (Miller Genuine Draft, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lone Star, Olympia, even Ballantine, and especially Coors) are only tolerable when served very cold (40-45F), whereas most malty beers, like amber/red/brown ales shouldn’t be served anything cooler than 50F, and you’ll absolutely ruin a stout or porter by serving it colder than 55F. You don’t want to overchill abbey ales and barleywine, either, though German-style wheat beers tend to benefit from colder temperatures, IMHO. So for the beer that American’s have traditionally been familiar with, colder has been better, while most European beers are best served much warmer.[/li][li]Americans just generally lack good taste (witness McDonalds, Steak-Um’s, Velveeta, Jello molds, et cetera). Just sayin’[/li][/ul]Mix and match as appropriate.


Not only does this do nothing to answer the question, I can’t imagine why someone would think it an appropriate comment in this forum.

Found: one Sense Of Humor, barely used, slightly faded. If lost, please contact Lost Property Department, Docklands Light Railway, London at 020.7363.9550 and ask for “Big Mick” at the Security Hut.


“Room temperature” may be part of the confusion. Beer, wine, and houseplants are the topics I’ve encountered where “room temperature” is used as a standard, but it actually means something different in different countries. If I were to serve red wine at “room temperature” at my house today, for example, it would be 88 degrees Fahrenheit. “Garage temperature” would be about 75 degrees, and at my neighbor’s house, where the air conditioning is always on, it would be 68 degrees.

Last English pub I visited, the beer wasn’t exactly warm, but it sure was flat.

That’s a common misconception. English beer is supposed to be served cold, it’s just that Lucas Electric built the refrigerator.

Witness marmite, faggots and mushy peas. (And no that’s not my sense of humour you have, I’ve got it right here :smiley: )

Anyway a good run down, Stranger. I’d say pretty accurate, particularly these days, as American beers do tend to be like having sex in a canoe. Problem is when Americans over refigerate good tasting beer because they’re used to the idea that beer= ice cold.

(At any rate, beer in England and Germany is not “warm”. )

It’s hard to identify the problem here, without details. Certainly, there’s pubs that serve bad beer. But there’s also some where there’s nothing wrong with the beer, but it doesn’t have any head or any fizz. Be aware that there’s no artificial carbonation of cask ale, and that it’s primarily the result of how it is poured. So it’s not the beer that’s flat, but your particular pint.

Very true. Red wine is where this is particularly important, because often it’s worth chilling a wine for a short while, if it’s been in a 20c room. And on the beer front, the temperature of a cellar wouldn’t necessarily be much different from that of anyone’s house for much of the year, so it could end up with the description ‘warm’ (as opposed to any drinks which were chilled).

Mmmmm…Marmite. It’s like sawdust mixed with axle grease. What a taste sensation!

My essential point, of course, was that, speaking in inexcusibly general strokes, Americans have different (not necessarily worse) standards and expectations for what comprises good (or even edible) than Europeans. Because of our experience and heritage we tend to expect beverages to be cold and carbonated, like the ubiquitous soda drinks that have wedged their way into every nook of the American culinary experience. (I swear, if I ever open a restaurant, I will refuse to have any soft drinks available in the dining room, and would be hard pressed to have a speedgun at the bar. Don’t mind me, it’s just a personal and irrational prejudice that prevents me from even considering going back into the food service business.)

Anyway, it seems clear from the experience of other posters that German beer is not, in fact, served warm; it’s just not super-cold (unless you get it from the market) nor should it be. And English beer is supposed to be cold, but because they rely on a manufacturer that is more effective as the butt of jokes for British car enthusiasts than in making actual electrical systems and appliances, it is often not quite as cold as a mid-summer Gibraltar afternoon.


In the US, room temperature means ~69-73 F.

What country are you in? The bottom of the following link has a brief discussion that in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Russia, the concept of “room temperature” is common, and doesn’t just mean “the temperature in a room.”

As I mentioned above, “room temperature” is much misunderstood. Room temeperature for wine historically meant about 60 degrees- these things occurred before central heating, and most southern european houses were planned to keep temperatures below 70 degrees. 70 degrees as a desired room temperature is relatively recent.

Hmm, not true. Lager is served chilled (and I don’t recognise the problem with our fridges thing), and it’s now common to serve the super-chilled ‘ice’ variety - generally for fizzy, weak tasting Amercian or Australian style grain water.

Ale, on the otherhand, is normally served at cellar temperature (whatever that means - I’ll let you all carry on that debate). Chilling ale is regarded as sacriligious - kills the taste. Bit like red wine - you only chill it when the taste is worth avoiding.

As regards flat beer/ale - well, some is and some isn’t, depends on the brand. Much like wine, if you think about it. Shocking though it may seem, not all beer is designed to imitate children’s soft drinks.

I spent 4 months back in 1975 in the sleepy village of Sutton Bridge, England during a time of revolution in the English beer industry. There were two major changes in the English pubs. One was the introduction of a pilsner tap, usually Carlsberg, seved unrefridgerated like the ales.

The second change was the introduction of “top pressure” in the casks to deliver the ales and beer that previously were drawn from gravity.

These created a problem for the publican who was obligated by law to serve his patrons pints filled to the rim (unlike the Germans who do require a head). To solve this problem larger pints with a white line near the top to indicate a full measure were introduced. That did not satisfy many who demanded the full measure to the rim regardless. The English pub patrons were a stickler for tradition.

I was amused during that time with the lack of expertise in pouring beer and ale.
For example, they poured the pilsner not against the glass but right into the previously poured pilsner resulting in a huge head that they slowly allowed to spill over while filling until full measure was achieved .

All the while I heard much debating regarding the effect of taste due to top pressure. I visited one pub in Long Sutton which did serve gravity fed ale, but I couldn’t tell the difference.

Norwich bitter was my choice at the time. 19p a pint. Most of the men drank bitter in the pubs which was relatively flat but very flavourable. You felt like you were getting nourishment as well as alcohol.