Actually, don’t. I’ll explain.

Turns out, Robert Matthew Van Winkle was way ahead of his time, or he was a closet craft beer aficionado in the late 1980s. Better known as Vanilla Ice, Van Winkle once penned the words to “Ice Ice Baby” and followed those same words in the chorus with ‘too cold, too cold.’ And that’s what leads us into today’s discussion.

Craft beer snob before his time …

You’ve been there before. You’ve been asked the question. And you’ve probably said yes at times (especially when it’s in the middle of a hot summer’s day and you need something refreshing.) I’m referring to the question from the bartender when you order a bottle of beer …. “Do you want a frozen mug with that?” On the surface, the question sounds innocuous enough. Cold beer + cold mug = colder beer and summer refreshment. But there’s a lot more to it than that. In short, a frozen mug kills the beer. I won’t get too science-y, but …

What happens to beer when it goes into a frozen mug?

  • Generally, a frozen mug isn’t super clean. Ice particles can grab hold of the sides of the glass … and then all kinds of gross stuff can stick to the ice particles. No bueno. Unless the glass is first rinsed before serving, you’re probably getting a dirty glass.
  • Frozen beer can make the protein in beer basically fall out of the solution and create a think skin on the top of the beer. You’ve probably seen this before. <Sarcasm> Shout out to Heineken who has embraced this phenomenon and promoted it as a sign of super cold beer. </Sarcasm>.
  • CO2 can separate from the beer. And what does that give us? FLAT beer. Again – no bueno!
  • Finally, if you’re drinking a beer between 30-40 degrees, you probably can’t taste it. Liquids that cold basically numb your palate and mask or altogether eliminate the flavor. And maybe that’s a good thing?!
    Note: the Homebrewers Association only recommends that one style of beer be served under 40 degrees. Any guesses? “American Mainstream Light Lagers.” Yes, that’s it’s own style apparently.

Bottom line here is that a frozen mug changes the nature and flavor (and maybe even texture) of the beer and is frowned upon. Beer snobs of the world will tell you not to do it. And they’ll scoff at a bartender who offers one. So, with all of this information readily available, why do bars still do it? Most people on the planet see it as the best way to get beer into the gullet. The public wants it – the market offers it. It’s just that simple.

At the end of the day, who cares? You do you. If you find yourself rollin’ in a 5.0 with the ragtop down so your hair can blow and need a super cold beer in a frozen mug? Have at it! You deserve that flat, flavorless, ice cube called American Mainstream Light Lager!

Word to your mother.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington