Not every brew you drink during these sweaty months has to be “as cold as the Rockies.”
First, don’t drink Coors. Second, do let (some) of your beers get close to “room temperature” (55-60 degrees) to thoroughly enjoy ‘em.
Kyle Kensrue, the Director of Operations at NYC’s Randolph Beer, gave us a warm beer primer. Keep it handy, for all seasons.
Is it true that full body/high alcohol content beers are best served warmer?
Not necessarily. A better way to determine the serving temperature of a beer is to go by style. Imperial Stouts, for example, are generally best served around 55 degrees, whereas say a Belgian Tripel, a high ABV style, should be served around 45 degrees. I would say that the styles that tend to be served warmer happen to have a higher alcohol content. Then there are cask ales or REAL ales from England that are meant to be served at cellar temperature. These include English Bitters and Old Ales.
What are your personal recommendations for beers that work best served at cellar (50-55F) or room temperature (55-60F)?
Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines and most beers that are aged in liquor and wine barrels. I have a small wine fridge at home that I use to store these beers properly.
Are any of these "warm beers" also good for summer drinking?
Typically people think of light, crisp beers for summer drinking, but personally I think people should choose their beer based on their location rather than the season. If they’re out at the beach, then yes, a crisp pilsner is probably much better than a deep imperial stout. But drinking an imperial stout with a chocolate dessert at dinner is perfectly matched ... and it doesn’t matter what time of year that is.
What's the worst type of beer to serve at room temperature?
American lagers like Budweiser and Coors Light would be disastrous at room temperature.
What's the advantage to serving a beer a little warmer than usual?
The general rule is, the colder the beer, the less flavor. That’s one reason why the American lager brewers want you to serve their beer ice cold, so you don’t taste the beer. A bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout is best served around 55 degrees in order to bring out all the nuanced flavors.
Are there any macrobrews that surprisingly work well at cellar/room temp? (AKA Should I be leaving my Miller High Life out of the fridge?)
Definitely not! These beers have flaws in them and, if served at cellar temp, you will taste it.