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Why does beer taste better cold? New research explains

(NEXSTAR) — Sometimes, there’s nothing better than cracking open a cold beer. Alternatively, there is almost nothing worse than drinking a warm beer.

But what makes a cold beer taste better? Is it just because of its refreshing quality? 

Researchers have found that the temperature of the beer, as well as other alcohol, can have an impact on the flavor. 

In a study published in Matter on Wednesday, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences explained that, like many things, alcohol behaves differently under certain temperatures. More specifically, researchers said alcoholic beverages will taste more or less “ethanol-like” at different temperatures. 

Ethanol (not the kind you get at the gas pump) can taste bitter and sweet, previous research explains

On the molecular level, when a beverage has a higher ethanol concentration, the ethanol aligns itself in a chain-like structure. At a lower concentration, the ethanol forms a pyramid-like structure. In the chain-like structure, researchers determined the ethanol flavor is more prominent.

Researchers analyzed baijiu, a popular spirit in China, and found that at room temperature — how the drink is commonly served — the ethanol formed as a cluster. When researchers made it warmer, the ethanol became more chain-like, enhancing the ethanol-like flavor. 

The study’s lead author, Lei Jiang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained that the slight temperature difference can make baijiu taste noticeably different. 

The same can be said for cold beer, though in reverse. 

When beer is cold, the ethanol appears chain-like on a molecular level, bringing out the ethanol-like flavor. As beer becomes warm, the ethanol creates clusters, and that flavor fades. 

“This is why we drink cold beer,” Jiang said.

Experts warn though that there is such a thing as “too cold” when it comes to beer. According to the American Homebrewers Association, flavors and aromas in the ale may be masked by the cold as it “slows the volatilization of aromatic compounds.” If those aromas aren’t released, your beer can seem “thin and tasteless.”

In most cases, the group suggests serving beer when it is between about 40° and 50° F.

If you drink beer, you may not have needed researchers to tell you that warm beer tastes vastly different than cold beer. Another aspect that can impact beer’s molecular structure and, ultimately, its taste? The way it’s stored. 

Think about the last time you were down the beer aisle. You most likely didn’t see any beer sold in a plastic container. That’s because beer can lose its carbonation and become stale when stored in plastic bottles.

“Plastic is simply not a good package for beer,” Chuck Skypeck, the director of technical brewing projects at the Brewers Association, previously told Nexstar. “The molecular structure of most plastics is not good at keeping carbonation in the package/product or keeping oxygen out to prevent staling.”

Skypeck did, however, note that costs and preferences may also be a contributing factor when it comes to brewers deciding how to store their products.

Regardless of how you drink your beer (whether warm or cold), you should do so responsibly. While there isn’t much truth behind the “beer before liquor” saying, there are a few ways to dodge a hangover, according to health experts.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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