Being a person who has sampled quite a lot of beer in Europe, friends in America will often ask if they really drink warm beer there. Since Americans like their beer almost to the freezing point and then served in a frosty mug, they can't imagine how you could drink beer that isn't ice cold. The fact is European drink their beer less frosty, shall we say, than the American counterpart. This article will explore some of the reasons for that as well as shed some light on just what we Americans term as "warm beer".
According to experts beer as well as red wine should be consumed at slightly below normal room temperature. That is if those beverages are high quality. If they are of the highest quality we want to get every bit of flavor out of them as you can. If they are lacking in quality or are downright poor, to make them drinkable they should be as cold as you can get them. Europeans will tell you that most American beer served cold for that reason.
Although serving temperatures in beer varies country to country they are served warmer than in the USA. The specific brewing temperatures of ales are normally about 52 to 63°F, and lagers about 40 to 48°F. This might vary among brewers, but those temperatures are where the most flavors can be had from the beer, even if it is not what most Americans are used to. Remember that beer in Europe has a long-standing culture, and even if American brewers originally came from Europe in time beer was produced for volume, not for the quality.
On top of it American beers can be highly carbonated which further will mask the flavor but give it a pleasant tingle. In Europe beer is beer on its own, and I could never recall a quality beer in Europe that would carbonate their beverage.
So to conclude this short lesson on European beers and why they are not as cold as American beers, let's mention perhaps the most famous European beer: Guinness. Brewed in Dublin it is also served chilled. But if you have a Guinness in the United Kingdom I'm sure you'll notice that it is richer and I think more full-bodied. It's still good in America and in other parts of the world, but Americans drink their Foreign Extra Stout. If ever you're in Europe you should try it there, as I'm sure you will find this much better than the American version.