If you want to get the most out of each beer you drink, then you’ve got to find its sweet spot; the temperature at which you find the beer to be its most flavorful and robust. The first rule is to forget what the brewers tell you is the best serving temperature for your favorite beer. It always comes down to personal preference. For instance, conventional wisdom says that stouts are best enjoyed at something close to room temperature, or on the warm side, while IPA’s are generally best enjoyed on the cold side. Definitely use these as a starting point, but experimentation is key.

When trying a new beer for the first time, start with it cold, say a temperature of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, drink slowly, and let it warm as you go along. Pay close attention to the beer’s flavors at each interval, and take the beer’s temperature when you find the sweet spot for yourself. Make a note of it, and go on to the next beer you enjoy. Keep repeating that process till you’ve covered all your favorites.

When visiting England, I was lucky enough to go to the brewery tap of a famous independent brewery. (That’s the pub that adjoins and is owned by the brewery). At a brewery tap, you can expect to taste beer at its finest, served at the perfect temperature. The barman was full of apologies; their cellar had dropped below its optimum temperature for the stouts due to unusually cold weather, and he was advising drinkers to allow their beer to stand for a couple of minutes so that it would warm up a degree or two and reach its optimum. This was an impressive example of devotion to the brewer’s art.

Knowing each of your favorite brew’s perfect drinking temperature will definitely maximize your enjoyment, but of course, you don’t have perfect control over the temperature when you’re at a bar. You can ballpark it, but you’ll find your best results when you drink at home. Some beer enthusiasts even go so far as to have a dedicated beer fridge set to just the right temperature for their favorite brews.

The idea of having a dedicated beer fridge might sound a bit excessive to you, but once you have tasted, tested, and found the sweet spots for your favorite brews, you’ll better understand. It makes a world of difference. When you expand your pallet and try a new beer, just perform the same experiment, starting cold and letting it slowly warm. You’ll be glad you did.

To try a whole range of fantastic beers, each served at the perfect temperature, visit the 2015 Edmonton International Beer Festival.