I'm not used to not getting hammered immediately.
November 23, 2011 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Beer idiot filter: How do I keep my beers decent enough to serve tomorrow night?

So I bought some nice beers for a Thanksgving gathering tomorrow. They were room temp when I bought them. Now what do I do with them?

1. Leave them in the car (this is in Durham NC in the trunk - its currently 52, not supposed to get above 65)
2. Bring them inside and leave them on the counter
3. Bring them inside and refrigerate them.

The gathering is about 30 minutes away so I will be transporting them tomorrow evening. My instincts say not to do #3 but I'm not sure.

posted by katybird to Food & Drink (22 answers total)
Your basement would be ideal, but if you don't have one I'd go for either the vegetable drawer of your fridge or room temperature. Shifts in temperature tend to damage delicate stuff more than temporary storage at mildly wrong temperatures. What kind of beer is it?
posted by Blasdelb at 6:41 PM on November 23, 2011

Response by poster: It's a few different types. I grabbed a medium large bottle for each person (less than a growler, more than a Natty Light) so its only 7 bottles total. Still, this is more than I'd normally spend on something like this.
posted by katybird at 6:53 PM on November 23, 2011

One advantage of being Australian is that doubts of this kind simply never arise.

Beer is to be stored in the fridge. That is all. Non-cold beer is just wrong.
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Hmm...maybe I'm doing it all wrong, but if I were you I would just refrigerate it and then take it in a cooler for the drive and then put it in their fridge. I've never had a problem transporting (craft) beer. But maybe it is loosing awesome flavor and I just don't know it!
posted by bwilms at 6:55 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

You'll probably want them less than room temperature to serve them. Will you have time to chill them at your destination (a few hours for a bomber)? If not, chill them now. That's probably the biggest concern.
posted by supercres at 6:56 PM on November 23, 2011

This really is a question that may be complex, but likely need not be.

Complex part: Cold (and heat for that matter) tends to suppress flavor, so if you happen to have very bold tasting beer, and you are serving it to people who enjoy this, then you want it cool, but not even refrigerator cold. If you have a very mild tasting beer, and/or people who prefer milder tasting beers then colder is better, it is more of a background thing.

In reality: most likely, like the majority of beer drinkers, they will expect the beer to be about fridge temperature, and that is okay and pretty safe to go with.

The needless complex thing: beer drinkers can differ in how cold they like their beer. For example I prefer mine... not warm, but barely cool as I like the flavors. But you put me with 6 other people and I will be the exception.
posted by edgeways at 7:06 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are over-thinking this. Put them in your fridge, throw them in your car and drive to your friends tomorrow, and put them in the fridge or on ice there. 30 minutes ain't gonna do nothing to them.

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by Ike_Arumba at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [12 favorites]

You won't harm the beer by it fluctuating a few degrees in temperature. Go ahead and chill them overnight in your fridge, and depending on your preferred serving temp, either enjoy when you get there, or stick them back in the fridge to get colder. A cooler would help them stay, um, cooler, but once again going from room temp to ~40 F to maybe 50 F will not harm your beer.
posted by borkencode at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2011

They're not going to get ruined being refrigerated all night and then unrefrigerated for a 30 minute drive. I work for a beer distributor in Raleigh and our warehouse isn't climate controlled. Beer is tougher than you think.
posted by something something at 7:08 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

3) fridge.
posted by pompomtom at 7:10 PM on November 23, 2011

Ales: cellar temperature
Lagers: refrigerator temperature
posted by goethean at 7:21 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

As others have noted, some beers are traditionally and/or intended-to-be served at warmer than fridge temperature, and some people prefer beer served that way (in the US, I'd guess these folks are in the minority).

That said, though, I'd put 'em in the fridge.
posted by box at 7:23 PM on November 23, 2011

Similar to goethean's recommendation:

Light beers: Refridgerate
Darker beers, belgians, and english styles: Either or is fine since it's not going to get too warm
Stouts and porters: I prefer these room temperature, but slightly chilled at first is fine too if there's time to let it warm...allowing one to take in the changing flavors as it progresses.

Bottom line: Unless they're beer efficinados or very familar with English pubs, I'd go the safe route of serving them cold allowing the recipient to let it warm naturally. The dilemma of overnight storage won't affect the quality really...but you may want to pack a cooler with icepacks for the trip.
posted by samsara at 7:31 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't over think temperature change. By the time you purchase your beer at the store, it's gone through several changes already. I agree with samsara that you should serve them cold and let people (if they choose) warm them up themselves although I think craft beers taste better at warmer temps.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:18 PM on November 23, 2011

I'm not sure I understand the dilemma here. Why are you hesitant to refrigerate them? If you are concerned about the temperature fluctuating, that is a myth. Unless you are planning to leave them in the sun or something. Beer skunking occurs from extended exposure to sunlight, not from fluctuations in standard temperatures. I would be much more concerned about how much sunlight they got in the liquor store than the temperatures in your car or fridge.

As others have said, you can serve some of the beers a little above fridge temperature depending on the style, but don't stress out about that. No need to crack out a thermometer or anything. Beer tastes best when relaxing--don't worry, relax and enjoy!
posted by wondercow at 8:23 PM on November 23, 2011

A few thoughts here. One, this is beer so refrig it. Although, the warmest beer I ever had was just cold enough. I think the car would work too. Room temp would be my last choice, but I would drink it if that was my only option. Take this advice as coming from someone sitting here right now with a semi-cold Miller High Life in one hand.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:11 PM on November 23, 2011

Beer - in fridge. Do you have a plastic soda bottle, water bottle or whatever, Fill 2/3 with water, leave the lid off, freeze. Tomorrow, put the lid on the container, put with beer in a bag, travel. It will be fine.
posted by theora55 at 9:21 PM on November 23, 2011

Fridge, then cooler with ice. Wear gloves, use tongs, don't breathe.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:38 PM on November 23, 2011

If they want their beer warm, they can hold it in their cups for a little while.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:39 PM on November 23, 2011

Whenever I hear people talk about the proper temperatures for wine or beer or spend massive amounts on temperature-controlled cellars, I think of when I was at uni working as a stocktaker in warehouses.

The distributors don't really give much of a shit about the temperature. They leave those pallets in the sun, in the rain, ship them on windy semitrailers and crunch them in and out of warehouses on dodgy forklifts and trolleys pushed by young men like me fifteen years ago. The beer you've bought's already survived a wastage rate of dropped, cracked, damaged and spoiled cases.

Take your beer, put it in the fridge, take it to the party. That cannot possibly be worse than anything that's already happened to it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:46 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

The real issue with beer is keep it out of the light. Cellar temperature is colder than most peoples walk out basement with kitchenette.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:00 AM on November 24, 2011

Just do the fridge, and cover them in the car ride. The two biggest ways you can hurt a beer in the space of a day are to freeze it or have them sit in the sun. Other than that, if the beer's gone bad, it'll have happened while sitting in a truck\warehouse\liquorstore, not while sitting in your fridge overnight. Beer CAN skunk from heat, but it takes more than 60 degree temps. for 30 min

If the people you're visiting care that much about the proper temperature, they can sit there and hold it in their hands to warm it up while everyone else is enjoying their beer.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:58 AM on November 24, 2011

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