With no apparent end in sight to ‘HeatWave2013: The Summer of Vengeance’* these sultry, sticky times call for increasingly desperate measures. One of the straws that major lager companies cling to is that their fizz has the power to refresh, something we can all appreciate in weather like this. But, whether you partake of their products or not, merely being bombarded with their adverts is enough to drill home the message that all beer should be served ice-cold, dripping with shards of frosty pep. Are they on to something? If you’ve ever drunk a Miller Genuine Draft at room temperature you’ll appreciate what they are talking about, at any rate.
*Other than the enormous heavy rain that has appeared nationwide since this post was drafted at the weekend, of course
So, if beers that don’t have a huge amount of flavour are best chilled to near-absolute zero and regarded as lightly alcoholic water, what about decent stuff? Beer ponces like myself go on about ‘cellar temperature’ – the near-mythical cool-but-not-cold level of perfectness that implies a wine-like collection of dusty, cobwebbed bottles. Anything warmer, and you’re into to the territories of real ale, comforting imperial stouts and then Irish coffees. But what about the other direction? Can we appreciate great beer straight out of the fridge?
Why the hell not? On a recent trip to the Bow Bar, a supremely chilled keg pour of Fyne Ales/Wild Beer Company Cool as a Cucumber absolutely hit the spot. As they now bottle it, the herbal, cucumbery flavours would be marvellously refreshing fired straight from the fridge. Here, then, are a few other beauties to enjoy straight from the chill-box, cracked open and poured lustily (or even, to antagonise the geeks yet more, gunned straight from the bottle)…
Bakewell’s finest produce a range of fridge-friendly numbers, but their spanking pilsner is right at the top. It entranced Lagerboy when he tried it, and deservedly so. The result of a collaboration between Thornbridge and Birrificio Italiano’s Maurizio Folli, Italia jolts you with a chilled blast of citric lemon and lime, providing the perfect relief from sticky afternoons (or mornings, or evenings). Best drunk sitting in the garden, with the light shining through the stream of gleaming bubbles.
Camden USA Hells
Hop-forward lagers are a growing trend – which is great news for me, as they are fantastic. Camden’s home-fired Hells is a great domestic thirst-quencher, but their American-themed number is a bona-fide classic. If I lived in London, I’d have three or four of these in the fridge at all times – now is the perfect time for them. Get home from work, throw down the keys and head straight for the fridge. Absolute perfection.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Yes, Torpedo is a monster. But sub-five degrees the edges are tamed by the cold, and you get to appreciate the complexity of the hop-load as the beer warms. Of course, you may finish it before it reaches that point, but there you go. Another joy; the Sierra Nevada bottles look as if they were made to be grabbed from the ice-box and chugged. Decant carefully into a snifter if you wish, by all means – but Torpedo still tastes great before the cap has finished spinning on the kitchen counter.
Fyne Ales Vital Spark
Proving that frigid fun needn’t be restricted to the see-through (or new-fangled unfiltered) beers, Vital Spark also fires into life when charged through straight from the cooler. The darker, blackcurrant edges come out more when the beer is cold, and it almost (almost) tastes like some kind of beery, fruit-based, energy drink. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Aside from that, it’s Fyne Ales’s most under-rated beer, by a country mile.
Maui Mana Wheat
I offered one of these to my father once, and the look on his face was priceless. ‘A pineapple wheat beer? Really?’ Yes, really. With apologies to Fyne Ales, Maui Mana Wheat really does taste like a fruit drink; not surprising, being an American hefeweizen with added Hawaiian Maui Gold pineapple. From the fridge, where it sits perfectly in a can, it’s astonishing how quickly you can chuck one of these back. More refreshing than all of the macro-lagers in the world, put together.
Brooklyn Monster Ale
I know that this is slightly cheeky, as Brooklyn announced in May that they were ceasing production of Monster – but until it vanishes from the bottle shop fridges, snaffle all you can see. A barley wine that tastes fantastic chilled right down, as being a Brooklyn beer the hops never truly dominate. Instead, you get cool honey, grape skins and alcohol, which wallops home before the beer inevitably warms and the sticky caramel flavours come out. An absolute belter, which will be sorely missed.
Which beers do you fire through straight from the fridge? Or is this all a load of nonsense, and a waste of great beer that you can’t taste properly?