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April 25, 2009

Ice, ice, baby

ice cubesFrom the fingertips of Midnight Sun guest poster Owl Meat Gravy comes the first in a series of off-kilter bar and drink observations.

You may remember Owl Meat from such blogs as Dining@Large, where he is a regular commenter and contributor. In my absence, he'll be regularly writing for Midnight Sun too. Here goes:

I have a problem, and its name is Ice. No, not Rob Van Winkle. We're cool now.

My problem is the American obsession with ice. We love technology so much that we use it fix things that aren't broken. Like beer. Someone even invented a device that will make your beer super-cold in twenty seconds.

I know several people that put ice in their beer. Light beer. Is this a Baltimore thing or some kind of mental pathology?

I don't want to get all judge-y, but drinking Coors Light from a big glass of ice seems like a hate crime ...

I'll take this one step further: I think some beer is too cold. I know that the coldest possible beer is a Holy Grail for some, but enough is enough.

I like Clipper City Loose Cannon, but it is just too cold and then they give me a chilled glass. I like the taste and when beer is too cold you can't taste it fully. I understand why you would want to drink Bud, Coors and Miller beers ice cold – to kill the taste. I think darker beers need to be served at a warmer temperature.
Then there is the issue of diluted cocktails. Why does every drink in the U.S. get served in a glass full of ice? The ice tends to dilute the drink to the point of uselessness unless you drink it fast. I think it's time to rethink ice.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:30 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays



We're trained that "colder beer is better" because most of the crap beer (Coors, Miller, etc.) want your taste buds numb so you don't actually have to taste their beer.

A quality beer is best when it's consumed "slightly chilled". The flavors (and the alcohol) really come out.

Last thing - frosted mugs + beer are a no no!!!!

I'm confused. Is Loose Cannon too cold everywhere, even when you buy a warm case in the liquor store? Maybe it's the chemical makeup that causes it to be too cold no matter what temperature it is when served. Amazing.

Just giving you a hard time, I agree that craft beers tend to be served too cold. The other thing is when white wine is stored in the same cooler as beer and is served ice cold. Drives me nuts.

I must admit that nothing is better on a hot day (like today) than an ice cold beer. I understand the concept of high-hop beers being a bit closer to cool than cold, but gimme a bucket of ice and 6 Coronas slammed down into it to waste the day away. With lime.

Yeah, I first saw this behavior here in Baltimore, but my uncle from NYC has begun doing this lately. (Of course, he's a rather odd bird, so he may be the only one who does such a thing there.) Seems like it's always older males I've noticed with the ice in the beer. I had to ask one guy about it, and he said it was just mo' better refreshingness for the hot weather. He got me to try it and it was surprisingly not-disgusting. Not that I've done it again since. Anyway, I agree with your feelings on the matter, but hey if the codgers enjoy it that way, it's theirs to cool off and water down.

Off kilter? Well that's the nicest thing anyone has said about me lately.

Yeah I think it's only old guys putting ice in beers.It will definitely slow your roll to glacier-like slowness. I've seen guys nurse a beer over ice for an hour.

Most bars have two temperatures for wine. Room temp and ice cold.

The reason why a jack and coke needs more ice is other wise it will have too much coke. Then you will complain about it tasting weak.

Hugh, who runs the Clipper City brewery, would not be happy to know his Loose Cannon was being served in an iced mug.

He flipped out about how terribly wrong it is to serve beer in an iced glass. Ranted about iced mugs for like five minutes.

At least, when I went on the Clipper City tour he did.

What is this? Drinking@Large?

Since we seem to be cross-posting among the blogs, here's a beer-related entry from You Don't Say, John McIntyre's blog about "language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects."

Drinking at Large? Funny. I believe that my posts here are 100% food-free. Slainte.

Thanks Jay. That makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one. I know they think I'm a pain in the butt for demanding a warm glass.

Too much Coke in a Jack and Coke? I guess that depends upon your taste. We're conditioned to have that much ice in drinks. In Europe they drink soda with maybe three small ice cubes instead of 20.

I'm just saying that ice is an ingredient and the amount you use changes the drink. Sometimes less ice might be better. We just never think about it. I was at the bar at the Brass Elephant a few years ago and my friend who is English was complaining to me that we use too much ice. Whatever, I thought. He asked the bartender for a gin and tonic, but to please use just two or three cubes. So she filled the glass with ice.

Bucky, no it's Drinking@Sessa.

When I lived in the UK, it was impossible to get a coke with ice. sometimes you just NEED ice. I had to get my mother to mail me some ice cube trays that made ice cubes bigger than sugar cubes.

The thing that I noticed in different places in Europe was that people could sit in a cafe or bar and nurse a Coke or some fruity drink forever because it started out warm or with one ice cube, so they tended to sip it like cough syrup.

Plus they have those evil upside down bottles with the pre-measured pourers on them that are skimpy.

I know that in England it is considered a bit flamboyant to have a lot of ice available. Because of tradition and the privations of the War and the time of rebuilding afterwards, it might be considered a vulgar display of wealth in decades past to flaunt ice (if we had any). Remember that energy has always been much more expensive in Europe and ice takes a lot of energy to produce. Whilst I would like to think our paucity of ice is a sign of moderation, I think it's just a case of that is how it's always been.

Hey I like Mich Ultra over ice with a lime. Very refreshing and I'm secure enough to admit it. It's not like I'm drinking a freakin apple martini or cosmo. It's still beer man no matter what you say hipster doofuses say.

What's the deal with Michelob Ultra? Why not just drink vodka and water with a lime or lemon if you want to get alcohol with the fewest calories. Man up people

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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