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Different Beers in my Fridge have Different Drinking Temperatures?

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Azura

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This is a riddle to me, but maybe some really smart beer science person can explain why I have three different professional beers in 12oz cans that taste like they were held at significantly different storage temperatures based on the subjective temperature analysis of the first few sips.

My beer fridge is held at 34F. Some beers taste like they were stored at that temp. Others taste like they were stored at 40F and others taste like they were stored at 46F. This set of observations is based on many mixed sessions that share the common theme of three different 12oz canned beers hitting the cooler at the same time.

Is there an explanation for this?
 

gunhaus

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Being an uneducated heathen - would it be alright if I asked exactly HOW you taste the storage temp difference? I mean how do you taste a 34 degree beer and say "AHA! That one was stored at 36.9 or some such? I have a pretty hard time telling buttered popcorn from pizza cardboard covered in banana! I can't even fathom tasting temperature?
 

gunhaus

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Not whacking the supine equine here, but I might not understand what your asking? I buy Guinness from two different stores - One keeps it in the cooler with everything else, the other keeps it out on a shelf at room temp. I take the beer home from either, I put it in my fridge at about 36. Next day I'd be damned if i could tell you which one came from the 40 degree cooler and which from the 65 degree storage room. How do you taste that?
 

GoeHaarden

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Ah, this one is simple! What happens is the temperature variations change the angle of the hydroxyl bond on the carbon atom at the 1 and 2 locations leading to polymer chain reactions and....Well, I won't bore you with the rest that you probably already know....
 

ancientmariner52

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No, I can't explain how you can taste temperature, any more than I could explain how you could hear how your beer smells. It just don't work that way.

However, if you mean that the combined sensations of temperature, taste, smell, mouth feel, carbonation level, and so forth give an overall impression that you perceive as different temps, I can understand that. And that's kinda the answer I think.
 
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Azura

Azura

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Being an uneducated heathen - would it be alright if I asked exactly HOW you taste the storage temp difference? I mean how do you taste a 34 degree beer and say "AHA! That one was stored at 36.9 or some such? I have a pretty hard time telling buttered popcorn from pizza cardboard covered in banana! I can't even fathom tasting temperature?
Imagine buying three different six packs of warm canned 12oz beers on the same day. Then you put them in a cold fridge at 34F right next to each other for at least three days before drinking. On the celebratory day of drinking, one beer is reliably colder than the other two. One beer is in the middle. The other seems like a beer that is almost too warm to serve.

At this point, the observations I've described are 100% sensory. Zero beer measurements were taken with a thermometer despite me having VERY accurate thermometers. It wouldn't surprise me if all the beers were basically the same temperature. They did not feel like the same temperature.
 
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Not whacking the supine equine here, but I might not understand what your asking? I buy Guinness from two different stores - One keeps it in the cooler with everything else, the other keeps it out on a shelf at room temp. I take the beer home from either, I put it in my fridge at about 36. Next day I'd be damned if i could tell you which one came from the 40 degree cooler and which from the 65 degree storage room. How do you taste that?
The beers are held for at least 3 days before drinking. Sometimes a lot longer. The temperature at purchase time is not relevant to my question after 1 day.
 

gunhaus

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SO three different beers with three different characteristics gave three differing impressions? I have to agree with the good mariner above - that ain't tasting a temp difference. That is just a differing perception of characteristics. That two hundred year old can of miller lite next to my aforementioned Bottles of Guinness has a WHOLE different feel/taste/fizzyness even though my highly accurate thermometer would verify similar temps. - Now if your telling me you bought three six packs of BMC and three days later pulled them off the same shelf and they were ALL different temps, then i would be confused!!! In fact i might perform an exorcism on my fridge!
 
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All three beers this time were IPAs that have similar IBU, SRM and ABV.

They reliably gave a different temperature perception straight out of an ice cold fridge. The difference may not be temperature, but there is an easily noticeable temperature difference between the beers that was described earlier. This is a phenomenon that I've observed for a long time with many different beers.

I guess I need to start dropping a thermometer in my beers to analyse this topic more closely on my own terms.
 

gunhaus

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Well, I got no reason to doubt you! And as I said, I am just an uneducated heathen on such topics. Beer is just my hobby, and i have only been playing at it since the 80's In projectile design, we use some fairly funky tools to measure temps; Infrared, thermal diagnostics, this REALLY cool gizzy that measures the speed of sonic wave displacement as a projectile passes a type of downrange transducer, that tells us surface temp of a projectile, internal temp of composite material, temp of the sonic wake displacements, and coolest of all the temp of the frontal wake being pushed ahead of the meplat of the unit. (Almost like reading the future!!!) All of that has allowed me to see some damn weird things when it comes to thermal measurements. I truly ain't never seen temp taken via taste bud! But that don't mean it ain't a valid possibility. I'll bring it up when I get back to work! I am sure it will be an interesting topic of conversation. Let us know what you find with your experiments! Perhaps subtle differences in final gravity are affecting the over-all temperature of the slightly different make ups of the same beers. Curiouser, and couriouser!
 
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No, I can't explain how you can taste temperature, any more than I could explain how you could hear how your beer smells. It just don't work that way.

However, if you mean that the combined sensations of temperature, taste, smell, mouth feel, carbonation level, and so forth give an overall impression that you perceive as different temps, I can understand that. And that's kinda the answer I think.
I'm not tasting temperature. I'm feeling it. The three beers were similar IPAs from different brewers. The most recent example of this phenomenon is this:

ABV: 6.8, 7.2% and 7.5%. The beer in the middle was the warmest by far. The 6.8% was the coldest by far.

IBU: Unknown, but they were all about 60-80ibu and none of them were significantly more bitter or hop flavorful than the others.

SRM: 7-9. The warmest beer was the darkest. The coldest was in the middle.

Carb level: Unknown, but they all looked at felt like 2.5-2.7vols.

FG: Unknown, but all of them were fermented with a British yeast (one strain was 1968 the others are unknown) and they had similar residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: similar across the board.

Aroma intensity: similar across the board. The coldest feeling beer had a slightly more intense aroma.

Artwork: the coldest beer had the best artwork. The warmest beer had the second best artwork.

Since you think my temperature perception is influenced by other factors, can you explain this?
 

ancientmariner52

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No, I can't. I've never noticed anything like this, I was just trying to propose a possible explanation that fit the facts as I understood them from your original post. You've made me curious now, I'm going to have to try it for myself.
 

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One possibility: ICarbonation changes for quite a while after the beer is cooled, as dissolved CO2 gets into equilibrium with carbonic acid. This might be affected by storage temperatures and the amount of CO2 in solution in the can, and can take weeks to settle down.

Another option: it may be minerals that you are tasting, and interpreting as temperature effects. E.g. dryness from sulfates, fullness from chloride.

Third option: dry, aroma and flavor hopping may be very different, and amount and combinations of hop oils might contribute to perceptions of temperature, in much the way that mint oils do.

I'm guessing that all the malt bills are fairly similar, and there's no NEIPA with oats or wheat in it here.
 
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No, I can't. I've never noticed anything like this, I was just trying to propose a possible explanation that fit the facts as I understood them from your original post. You've made me curious now, I'm going to have to try it for myself.
I wouldn't be making a thread about this if it was barely noticeable to me. The most recent example had a broad enough difference in temperature perception to ask why this could happen while knowing the question could be ridiculed.

Since then, I bought a mixed case from New Belgium because it was cheap at the Costco and I have no homebrew right now. All the beers taste like they were made with the same yeast except for maybe the Wit. ABV range is 5.2-7.2%. Amber ale, Wit, citrus peel pale ale and a weak IPA. They all feel like the same temperature. They all taste like they used similar water profiles that lean towards low TDS.

I tend to use higher TDS than what NB seems to use. My higher TDS than NB beers are wicked ice cold! So maybe this has something to do with TDS? The Arctic ocean is colder than freezing on account of mineral content. Maybe this has something to do with my observations?
 

dyqik

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I tend to use higher TDS than what NB seems to use. My higher TDS than NB beers are wicked ice cold! So maybe this has something to do with TDS? The Arctic ocean is colder than freezing on account of mineral content. Maybe this has something to do with my observations?
That shouldn't affect the temperature at all, unless the beer is actually freezing.
 

ong

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I think you should actually measure the temperature of each beer, so you can determine if your question is “why do different beers at the same temperature seem warmer or cooler” or “why are different beers in my fridge different temperatures.” They seem like vastly different questions, and I’m not sure which one you’re exploring.
 

ancientmariner52

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I'm not ridiculing you, sorry if I came across that way. I know better than to question someone's subjective impressions. By subjective I simply mean that the difference you describe doesn't register on a thermometer or other instrument, and I surely don't want to start an argument about it.
 
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Another option: it may be minerals that you are tasting, and interpreting as temperature effects. E.g. dryness from sulfates, fullness from chloride.

.
You posted that while I was typing my previous post about minerals. A fridge held at 34F is going to cycle below 34F and pure salt water will be colder than distilled in this scenario. So maybe the difference between 32F, 34F and 36F is something I can feel at an inaccurate relative scale.
 
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I'm not ridiculing you, sorry if I came across that way. I know better than to question someone's subjective impressions. By subjective I simply mean that the difference you describe doesn't register on a thermometer or other instrument, and I surely don't want to start an argument about it.
Don't worry. We aren't arguing and I don't feel ridiculed by anything you've said.
 
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That shouldn't affect the temperature at all, unless the beer is actually freezing.
You are assuming all beers have the same freezing point. They don't. However, the beers I initially described should be very close. Probably +/- 1F.
 

dyqik

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You are assuming all beers have the same freezing point. They don't. However, the beers I initially described should be very close. Probably +/- 1F.
Yes, but the freezing point of a 4.8% solution of alcohol in water is -2C, 28.5F, and 6.8% is -3C, 26.6F, which should be well below the temperatures in a fridge, unless you are storing the beer cans right under the air inlet in a fridge freezer that works by blowing cold air into the fridge from the freezer.
 
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dyqik

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You posted that while I was typing my previous post about minerals. A fridge held at 34F is going to cycle below 34F and pure salt water will be colder than distilled in this scenario. So maybe the difference between 32F, 34F and 36F is something I can feel at an inaccurate relative scale.
Cans of beer almost certainly can't follow the temperature of the air during a cooling cycle in the fridge very closely, because they have significant thermal mass. I find it typically takes tens of hours to cool a beer can to fridge temperature, so the thermal mass is probably high enough to prevent more than a half degree or so variation, even if the fridge air cycles by 5F or so.

Distilled water will be warmer than salt water in your scenario, but it'd be obvious why - there'd be ice floating in it. If there wasn't, it'd be at much the same temperature, because the heat capacity is not drastically different.

You may well be able to distinguish between 36F liquid and 32F liquid in your mouth.


I think I'm favoring my third guess above: that different hop oils and possibly malt and yeast flavor compounds cause different temperature sensations. Particularly if the beers taste like they have different "thicknesses". Possibly combined with some small variation in the temperature and carbonation of the beers.
 

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I understand what the OP is saying. my dad and I have commented many times that Sunny Delight never tastes cold, ever. Even from the fridge, poured over ice, it NEVER feels cold in your mouth. Can't explain it. I guarantee that it's fridge temp, just like everything else in there, but it never feels that way. The milk sitting right beside it on the shelf feels cold when you drink it, but sunny delight doesn't.
 

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I understand what the OP is saying. my dad and I have commented many times that Sunny Delight never tastes cold, ever. Even from the fridge, poured over ice, it NEVER feels cold in your mouth. Can't explain it. I guarantee that it's fridge temp, just like everything else in there, but it never feels that way. The milk sitting right beside it on the shelf feels cold when you drink it, but sunny delight doesn't.
I get that. It might be the sugar or perhaps the viscosity of the drink. Sunny-D always seemed a little syrupy to me. Just like that I never think fruit juice tastes cold, yet water does. BMC lagers seem to have a colder sensation in the mouth, perhaps due to their low FG--it's thinner. More of a thirst-slaker. It's the perception of temp, not actual temp. The beers could all be exactly 33F, but some give a greater impression of cold than others. It's our senses playing tricks on the mind.
 
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