Cold drinks?! 23



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I can’’t get over the ‘fashion’ here in Australia for cold drinks. And when I say cold, I really mean cold! My wife will buy an almost freezing glass of white wine in a pub and she will then add ice cubes to it –– can you believe that? Beer too is drunk as cold as it can be prepared and even the glasses are stored in the freezer, so that they have a coating of ice on them before a drink is even added. The same thing applies to the tap used to deliver draught beer, a column of stainless steel with a ‘T’ branch at the top, from which sprout four or five individual beer taps, I feel I hardly need say it, but that unit is usually also covered in a thick layer of ice.

It’’s not just alcoholic drinks either; go into any supermarket, stationers shop, milk bar, even some hairdressers, and there, in the corner will be the ubiquitous drinks fridge, a massive thing that accepts money and throws out cans of Coke, Pepsi and all manner of other soft drinks, once again so cold the can freezes onto your hand, while the machine hums away to itself like a train just about to pull out of the station! In some establishments, where the fridge hasn’t been so carefully looked after, or is due for renewable, it can be quite difficult to talk over it.

Although the sales of all this flavoured and often alcoholised fluid drop somewhat during the winter months, they certainly don’’t close down completely. Conditions in the bar are exactly the same whatever time of year it is, the reverse cycle air conditioner sees to it that conditions don’t change from season to season, it is always – well – pleasantly warm in there, just right for an ice cold amber liquid or Chardonnay.

Maybe I’’m different to other people, but I always think this habit spoils the drinks! They just have no flavour at all, especially after the first few gulps, when your taste-buds have also frozen to match the drink passing over them. You might just as well suck ice cubes for all the satisfaction you get from these drinks; beer, wine or soft-drinks, even fruit juices, it’’s almost impossible to detect any difference between them.

And this is where we come to the nub of my argument! I’m sure a lot of readers will be aware of the fact that I was a ‘pom’ until about twenty-seven years ago (just go to the end of this article, all the information is there, for all to see), and I am accustomed to what Aussies keep calling ‘warm English beer’. Well I can assure you, if you haven’t actually tried it, nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather than being refrigerated, English beer is kept in a cool cellar and pumped up to the bar for consumption, as required. This means the drinker can enjoy the full taste subtleties provided by malted barley and hops, fermented to perfection and bursting with flavour, as well as quenching any size of thirst! Every English pub also sells the frigid stuff Australians are accustomed to; most of them stock such favourites as Fosters and XXXX, to keep the Austrailophiles happy, but no real beer drinker would touch it. Compared to the ‘snack’ flavor of these lagers, living English beer is a feast, a feast to be mulled over, swirled about the mouth, like a good wine, and swallowed with a sense of gratitude that something so wonderful exists!

Yes, Aussie beers have their place in the order of things, to cool you when you’’re hot, or to quench a thirst after a hard day’s work, but when it comes to an evening of sheer pleasure, spent with like-minded friends, there is just no contest, English beer wins, hands down. Anyway, that’s my opinion and I have a perfect right to it!

What do you think about the ice debate? Do you love your drinks cold? Does ice water down your drinks or don’t you mind? Tell us in the comments!

Brian Lee

  1. Lol Brian. My brothers hated the “warm” english beer. Me, well I dont mind if a drink is hot or cold. As long as it is wet…

  2. I prefer my drinks cold, really fold for beer. A friend and I even asked for a red wine to be chilled slightly one night )it was 42degrees outside and only slightly cooler inside) The barman looked at us strangely but the customer is always right OK

    1 REPLY
    • A woman after my own heart; I too occasionally ask for a red wine to be cooled because room temperature is not our Australian rooms in high summer.

  3. I’m not a big drinker of anything … but when I do indulge I like it chilled … the old adage of having wine and beer at room temperature comes from the days of yore when the landed gentry kept it in the castle cellars … I’m afraid that in Oz and especially up here in Qld, drinks need to be kept in a refrigerated state in order for them to stay at that “ye olde” room temperature ! I did enjoy reading your article Brian … My brother in law is German and would agree with you 100%. We argue about this all the time.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree with you Micheline, except for your point about ‘room temperature’ beer. Beer in England would NEVER be drunk at room temperature by expert drinkers, but at cellar temperature, which is a vastly different thing. Even in summer, a good cellar won’t be above about 10C, which is pleasantly cool, but leaves plenty of taste to be enjoyed!

      1 REPLY
      • I know what you are saying Brian, but “room temp” in the old castles was pretty bloody cold ! Cheers !

  4. I am afraid I like my wines (even red) chilled and I don’t like beer unless it is a lager which is chilled. I did live in the UK for 15 years but could not drink warm drinks.

    Each to their own.

    1 REPLY
    • I meant to say that I only chill my red wine in Summer.

  5. I like all my drinks cold and I’m originally from the UK too. Just a few weeks ago I started keeping my cold water in the fridge in glass bottles. I told my partner that water, milk, almost any drink tastes better out of glass. After tasting it, he now agrees with me, and he’s a Yorkshireman.

  6. You are right Brian. Us Aussies like our drinks cold. Trouble is there are varying degrees of cold and just how cold is cold in terms of cold. Personally I prefer my beer cold but not as cold as my best mate who likes his beer very cold. His brother on the other hand prefers beer Icy cold which is way too cold for me and just a little bit too cold for my best mate.
    Temperature certainly does alter flavour in beer. What we call warm beer is way different to what an Englishman would call warm; just as a warm day in England is different to a warm day in Australia. A hot day in Australia is probably a very hot day in England and on a hot day in Australia we love a nice cold beer. In fact we like a cold beer on any old day. On the subject of English beer versus Aussie beer, I think the jury is still out. Personally I reckon that some English beers are just as good as some of the Aussie brews. You are a brave man to say that English beers are superior to Australian beers. I showed your post to the above mentioned mate of mine and after careful consideration he turned to me and said…..”What would that pommie bastard know?” Cheers mate.

    1 REPLY
    • I LIKE IT! Great response from your mate, and a good thoughtful few points made by you! Where would we be if we all agreed with each other all the time. In my defence, I didn’t mean to say Aussie beer is no good, but just that English beer can have more flavour, because of the temperature it is served at. Thanks for your reply – loved it!

  7. When we visited the Olde Country a few years ago (my husband was a Pom), his friends proudly produced a few cans of XXXX from his cupboard to help us get over the trip! Ugh!! In more ways than one!

  8. You do indeed Brian. I also prefer chilled rather than ice cold drinks as the flavour is better. I prefer a lot of food at room temperature too – much better flavour than fresh out of the fridge.

  9. that looks like a bottle of my home brew on top of the esky there !

    as an Oze – I tend to like my beer pretty cold – just checked my fridge chiller drawer thermometer – showing 0C – but suspect it’s usually around 4C – I think when it was 7-10C I found it too warm.

    I believe the English used to drink ale – typically at warmer temperatures – but have more recently trended towards the German lagers more typically served colder – so if you want to return to English style – maybe trot out the ‘ale and ‘arty stuff for our delectation … ?

  10. Thanks all for the giggle …. from a non beer drinking barmaid

  11. English ale, real ale, is served at around 8 degrees C. and that is NOT warm. It is normally served in a glass with an opened out top which allows the nose to enjoy the fragrance. Drinking ice- cold beer from a can, or stubby, is refreshing but, because the taste buds are numbed by the temperature, the flavour is lost ,along with the scent.

    1 REPLY
    • You’ve hit the nail on the head David, exactly the point I was trying to make! Too cold = too tasteless, (whatever the drink is made of).

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