Can you put ice in beer? Can you have beer on ice? You most certainly can, and in the right circumstances you should! Although of course you should not put ice in EVERY beer. But, we will deal with that later.
When I lived in the Cayman Islands I was first introduced to the phenomenon that is beer on ice, I did not get into it at the time, but more recently and having spent a lot of time in Vietnam, and Cambodia I am now a convert to the beer on ice thing.
So, to cut a long story short beer on ice is a big deal in south-east Asia particularly, with me first acquiring said taste in Vietnam.
Why do put ice in beer in Vietnam?
Originally a big reason for beer being on ice was due to lack of refrigeration, it was hard to keep masses of beer bottles cold, but by flinging in a few cubes of ice coldness would thus arrive. Easy eh?
Also refrigeration space is limited. It is easy to keep a ton ice, rather than a ton of cold beers (they drink a lot).
Who do people still put ice in beer in Vietnam?
So, now we have refrigeration you’d expect people to no longer add ice to beer, but they do. Essentially it has now become a bit of an acquired taste. People cite a number of reasons from it keeping the drink cool (obviously), to take the “edge” off of the taste, and even to get drunk slower.
Beer was also traditionally drank by the masses with BBQ, or street food. The Vietnamese way is to put lots of bottles on the table (which obviously get warm quickly) and then do lots of cheers. Small glasses, but clinked together and drank in quick succession. Thus ice gets delivered. Again much like China you share the bottles, rather than drink by the glass rather than individually. Delivering ice makes more sense than delivering copious amounts of beer every 5 minutes.
Why do I like beer on ice? Ice in beer?
For me personally I have really enjoyed beer on ice in Cambodia, particularly with street food, essentially the bottles aren’t that cold, but a regular supply of ice is kept.
I have also recently taken to it as a daytime by the pool kinda drink, for numerous reasons. One it is damned hot sitting by a pool in Siem Reap, and whilst you still need to drink it quickly to avoid it melting too much, it is a very refreshing drink.
Secondly the local beers of Angkor and Cambodia Beer whilst not all that bad, are hardly a finely tuned IPA! The water as it slowly melts creates a refreshing brew, without the course edge that drinking it straight would give.
And lastly, for me anyway it is just practical. Beer on ice, whilst more watery stays cool, whereas a bottle, or worse can get very hot in the sun.
How do you drink beer on ice?
I have had it in a plastic mug full of ice, but it should be as god intended, in a big big glass filled to the brim with ice, and then regularly topped up when you drink it.
So, can you put ice in beer?
You most certainly can, the Street Food Guy says so!
Should you put beef on ice? Yes, but only in the right circumstances
Do say “beer with ice”. Do not say “beer on the rocks”
When is ice in beer not OK?
OK, so when we talk about ice in beer, we are talking about doing it with the mass produced and not so good beer. Angkor Beer, Saigon Beer, or I would say Carlsberg, would also do well with ice.
There is now of course a huge craft beer scene exiting hipsters of the world left right and centre. You do not put ice in good beer. Just like you would not add coke to an Appleton Estate 15 year old rum. Although I have actually done that.
Sometimes beer is so bad it needs ice
On a journey to Prey Veng I saw an add for a beer I had nver heard of, namely Mattrid. In facts the adds were everywhere, which made me suprised that I had never heard of the stuff.
To read bout Prey Veng clock here.
And then it gets even weirder! I was to end up in Siem Reap at the wonderful Star Bar of my previous karaoke fame – kinda. Anyhow while out for dinner we got to discussing Mattrid Beer, I will give this its own article at some point. Basically the beer is really bad, not quite as awful as Ganzberg, but pretty damned close.
If tough you add ice to this beer it makes it a little more palatable! And that is one of the kickers of the beer on ice thing, it makes shit beers slightly better. And then of course there is the shandy – which we will deal with in the second part.
Update on beer on ice!
For those not familiar with a shandy, it is when you mix beer with sprite. This can be done in numerous fashions. There is the “lager top”, which has minimal lemonade/sprite. And then you have a shandy, which by and large is mostly sprite and with less beer. My method of choice tends to be to start weak and then lesser the sprite as the day goes on. You see when hungover you need, liquid, sugar and alcohol. At least in my humble opinion.
Thus beer on ice with Sprite was invented – Or as I have now called it the General Nic Song-Dok shandy. Shandy already being the perfect hangover drink is truly complimented in tropical climates with ice. Does said drink now count as a cocktail? I’d say it is probably too soon to go that far, but if we were to throw in a lime, and maybe a shot of Soju it would definitely pass the cocktail qualification test.