Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Frosted Beer Glasses
Do you ever see those commercials from the beer giants like Budweiser or Coors and the beer is in a frosted glass and looking like the most refreshing quencher ever? Well the reason they like to suggest serving your beer ice cold in frosted glasses is to make sure you taste as little of the beer as possible.
Serving beer ice cold holds the volatile aroma compounds in the beer leaving it feeling tasteless and thin. The cold also numbs your tongue doubling down on making the beer undetectable.
The only beer that should be ice cold is a domestic lager like the ones mentioned above. Other than that, if you want to taste the nuances of the beer you ordered you’re going to want to ditch the frosted glass and think about letting your beer warm up from fridge temperature (~3°C.) Most other beer styles would greatly benefit from being served at warmer temperatures anywhere between 7°C - 12°C.
Frosting your glassware forms icy patches inside your glass. These icy patches create nucleation sites in your glass. Nucleation sites are spots in the glass that beer will rub against and cause bubbles to cling on. These sites are commonly found in glassware that has dust, dirt or leftover beer or even sanitizer in the glass. Sometimes breweries and taprooms will purposely etch nucleation sites into the centre of the bottom of their glasses. This is to create a natural stream of bubbles to top of the glass to fortify the head of the beer.
When you see a bartender do a quick rinse of your glass before pouring your pint, they are trying to make sure no nucleation sites are present in the glass. Frosting your glass does the exact opposite and guarantees your glass to be full of them and will probably result in over-foaming and poor head retention.
If you are served a glass of beer that is not Beer Clean it will really hinder your experience of that beer. Firstly through appearance, a glass with bubbles clinging all over does not look as appealing. It will also cause the head of your beer to dissipate rapidly scaring away your built-in aroma trapper and palate cleanser. Beer is a finicky liquid and any bit of dirt or dust in your glass can ruin your experience of even the best beers. Cicerone Certification Program shared a cool graphic of the effects of beer clean glassware:
I hope this helps you get the best out of your beer whether it be honing in on the best serving temperature or making sure your glass is as clean as it needs to be!