WHY NOT HOT BEER FOR COLD NIGHTS? Jacob Grier had an article in the Atlantic (February 5) about how people used to drink hot beer for both warmth and nourishment. Today the mention of hot beer provokes skepticism. (I just tested and confirmed this proposition by telling Annalisa I was going to be posting about hot beer.)

Obviously the availability of refrigeration had a lot to do with the change in tastes. Grier says that one reason for the modern preference for cold beer is that lagers and IPA’s are increasingly popular and there is general agreement that they taste better cold. Before 1900 English and American drinkers were more likely to be drinking malty ales. Beer or ale was often the preference at all times of the day. Grier quotes a writer in 1888: “When beer was the staple drink, morning, noon, and night, it was natural that our ancestors would prefer their breakfast beer warm ….” I suppose it would be like somebody today starting the day with hot coffee.

Grier points out that there are a few bars and breweries that are currently experimenting with hot ale drinks and concludes by quoting Charles Dickens’s description of “the happy circumstances attendant upon mulled malt.”

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