A lot of bars lately have taken to automatically bringing the beer in a frozen mug. These are well-meaning people who think they are doing me a favor. And at times, it makes sense — down here in Texas, when it's @#$%ing hotter than hell in mid-summer (and where summer didn't end until mid-November this year), there are indeed times when I want my beer icy cold. And especially if most of your customers are drinking wimpy downstream brew where flavor really isn't the major issue, go right ahead.
But if your customer (i.e., me) orders something that clearly indicates they like a big wallop of flavor (pretty much anything that ends in "ale," has a Belgian name, or otherwise comes from the premium/import end of your beer menu), you really ought to ask them whether they want it frozen. Because they probably don't. The really good beers weren't meant to be drunk that cold. The cold numbs your tastebuds. No tastebuds = no flavor. A good IPA or stout in a frozen mug is pretty much a wasted IPA or stout. Well, maybe not wasted, but severely diminished.
If you usually drink quality beer from a frosty glass — which I used to do — try drinking it from a room-temperature mug, and maybe even let the beer warm up for about 15 minutes, so that it's merely cool rather than cold. Maybe you won't like it, but I suspect you'll discover flavors you didn't realize were there. This is especially true on days like today — when it's miserably cold outside, who wants a cold beer? (See my previous posts on the nice warming effect that a good winter seasonal is supposed to have.)
I thought of this because when I was out in El Paso, one of the bars brought me a frozen mug, and on subsequent visits I had to remember to specifically ask for a room temperature one. It made me kind of feel like a dick, but I finally decided that if I'm paying extra dollar or two (sometimes more) per bottle for the good stuff, I'm entitled to having it my way.
Thanks for reading my diatribe, and the next time I'm in your bar, I promise I'll tip extra for being a whiny little pussy.