We've gotten used to the comments from the barflies by now, as they watch us go through this testing business, on company time. "Hey, bet you love your job," they gurgle, and I seldom disagree. But there isn't much time for bartop bonding; usually I'm packing a hit list of bars that need my attention, and as much as I'd like to do a sing-a-long to Aerosmith with the gang, duty calls.
This is our sixth year testing the temperatures of Boise's taps, and the best bartenders know the drill. Some of them see us coming with beer thermometers in hand, and prep nice frosty ones. Others know what my new friend Paul, at 1-800-DIAL-BUD, knows, which is that a cold beer might not be the best beer. I called Paul after hearing from too many disgruntled bartenders about how temperature really isn't the best indicator of a beer's flavor, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
DIAL-BUD: This is Paul, how may I assist you today?
BW: Paul, I was just wondering: What's the best temperature for serving Bud?
DB: Traditional lagers, like the Budweiser and Michelob brands, are best served cold, between 42 and 48 degrees.
DB: Ales are usually served a little bit warmer, between 44 and 52, and your stouts and your barley wines are typically served between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
DB: Most of us prefer our beers colder, of course.
BW: Ah ha!
DB: But if you're looking for the best flavor, and best taste, it doesn't always occur at the coldest temperature.
BW: So why do you want to drink a beer colder than that?
DB: Why would I?
DB: Simply because I like my beer cold. And the colder it is, the colder it's going to stay, longer.
DB: And, obviously, we do recommend that you drink it out of a clean glass and that you put a nice head on it.
BW: How about a chilled or frosted glass?
DB: Some people do that. But we don't recommend it one way or another. The advantage to that is that the beer will stay colder, longer.
Paul didn't want to contradict his company, but the fact is, although you're technically supposed to drink cheap beer at pretty balmy temps, even Paul, the voice of Anheuser-Busch, doesn't want to.
We get that. Sometimes, here at BW headquarters, we joke that our unofficial motto is, "We're just saying." Because when you're pointing out the problems inherent in government, dining, rocking or imbibing, you're going to ruffle some feathers. But somebody's got to do it. If that means sending a herd of testers around Boise to test beers regardless of The Official Rules of Cold Beer, then so be it. You, the reader, can decide. We trust you.