We do not need to describe that first, sublime sip of a cold beer on a warm day, but have you ever thought that as the level in the bottle or glass drops the quality of the experience falls too? And by the time you reach the bottom, it has taken on a slightly different, less pleasant flavour? Well, if so, you'll not be surprised to learn that the rising temperature is changing the way you are sensing different flavors in the brew. What is really interesting is the speed that these changes take place.
How do we taste?
There are about 10,000 taste bud receptors on the human tongue and each of these, albeit to different degrees, can detect five basic taste sensations: bitter, sweet, umami, salty and sour. If you are right now thinking "U-what?" allow me to explain that umami is the sensation of savoury and comes from the Japanese for 'delicious and taste'. This makes perfect sense when you then know that the sensation of umami is due to stimulation of l-glutamate receptors - and therefore we now know there exists a conduit linking MSG (monosodium glutamate), your tongue and your brain. Thus completely explaining the deliciousness addictiveness of Chinese cuisine to many!
As the temperature of a consumed food or drink changes, the efficacy of these receptors and the balance of the information sent to the brain is altered and therefore the perception of taste changes too. Experiments by food scientist indicate that perception of sweetness, umami and bitterness drops with lowering temperature. Sour and salt responses are unaffected for the most part.
Why is ice cream particularly bad for your teeth - and your waistline?
Ice cream manufacturers have been adding extra sugar and sweeteners to ice cream for decades, if not centuries, just to increase the potency of the sweetness at colder temperatures. I think many of us will have come across the same phenomena with carbonated soft drinks - great when cold, but if you try one at 30°C you'll be challenged to drink it all without your teeth jumping out of your jaw as it is so sweet! It is true that as the temperature of your lager or ale warms, their residual sugars become more prominent on your taste buds too and start to become a part of the, what is commonly described as a sickly flavor, that lagers and pilsners that are too warm have.
Traditionally more hoppy or bitter drinks such as English Bitters and India Pale Ales are best served slightly warmer than pale lagers, typically at cellar temperature (11 to 14°C). This allows increased perception of the bitterness of the hops, but also raises the concentration of the more volatile aromatic oils from the hop flower used in their brewing, giving us those wonderful floral aromas. Arguably in these beers it is the bitterness that somewhat controls the balance with increased sense of sweetness. However, that said, clearly as ales have been cellared or kept cool since the dark ages this temperature cannot be let to get too high or this balance is lost and the beer tastes, well, horrible!
Keeping your beer in the zone with a beer Koozie
We all know, perhaps instinctively, that the temperature beer is served is important to how the consumer interprets the flavors that have been carefully constructed by the beer alchemists that brewed it [Ideal Serving Temperature for Beer]. What many are unaware of is the speed that an open beverage will get out of that zone if it is not insulated. For instance, imagine it's a nice warm day, say 30°C and sunny and you've cracked open a cold bottle of your favourite session lager (ideal serving temperature 2-5°C) how long before that beer will be 10°C? Well, the answer is just seven or eight minutes! In 15 minutes that beer is now 15°C - well out of even cellar temperature and in another 10 minutes it's the same temperature as you'd serving a red wine! Of course you could drink faster, but aside from so-called binge drinking not really being too healthy for you, it's not what the brewer really intended - a good beer is to be savoured, not smashed down at a rate of knots. The only other practical option therefore is to insulate your drink and Koozies are definitely effective at doing that.
With a Coolaz Koozie wrapped around it a cold bottled beer served at 2°C in 30 degree heat would reach 10°C in twice the length of time of one without. It would still be drinkable, but arguably just losing its edge, 30 minutes after opening (15°C). Our research also shows that canned drinks are a better choice for drinking in warm conditions: after 30mins a can of beer with a Coolaz beer Koozie wrapped around it would be 12°C (compared the 22°C of uninsulated can). You read more about the performance of our Koozies here : Performance of Coolaz beer Koozies.
It makes sense too that if you are being served beer in a plastic beaker or Solo cup then it is equally important that said container is insulated too from the perspective of both the consumer, who gets a better experience, and the brewer, who gets more positive feedback which hopefully translates into increased sales. Luckily at Coolaz we have the ideal product for that too!