Nothing lasts forever. This saying applies to everything – vacations, delicious meals, and, unfortunately, even beer. Any beer connoisseur is aware of the degradation that happens to the aroma-producing oils and acids of beer with exposure to time, air, light, or varying temperatures. So, on the occasions that you cannot drink all the beer you have in a timely manner, you are left with quite the conundrum: how do I store beer to ensure it tastes just as fresh the next time I am craving a cold one?
Passionate beer enthusiasts have always had varying opinions about the best way of the care and keeping of ales, but most beer storage ideas are straightforward and intuitive. Once the basics are grasped, you will have the know-how to store beer to keep it fresh for the next time you need to unwind.
Here are some of the key points you ought to know about the best practices for long-term beer storage. Use these tips to keep your beer tasting crispy and fresh for days, weeks, months, or possibly even years at a time!
Unfortunately, there is no reference book with down-to-the-day accurate charts and timelines for when a particular beer will age into the “not fresh” category. However, you can use several conventional rules of thumb of beer storage to figure out whether you should be worried about the beer’s freshness, or whether you can still stash it and enjoy a fresh beer at some point down the road. There are three main rules of thumb to consider:
You generally do not need to worry about rushing to drink a beer if it has higher than 8% ABV. Beers with higher alcohol content take far longer to go stale, as the alcohol content itself at such levels begins to act as an effective preservative.
Beers that are sour or smoked, like high-alcohol beers, stay fresh for longer. However, if your beer is an IPA or another hop-centric beer, like amber lagers, American pale ales, or strong ales, then your beer is more likely to spoil quickly. Even if the beer is 8% ABV or higher, if it is brewed heavily with hops it will spoil more quickly than a typical beer. Consuming them swiftly after purchasing is your best bet because of their hop aromatics, which add to the distinctive flavor of the beer but fade rapidly over time.
It needs to be pointed out that most craft breweries in America do not pasteurize their beers, so their shelf-life is shorter than mass-produced lagers. If beer is pasteurized, it will stay fresh for longer, meaning you don’t have to drink it as quickly after you buy it from the store.
If it is an unpasteurized beer, best to crack and sip before three months after the beer’s bottle date. If you can’t figure out the brew date of the beer you’re having, get help and educate yourself on finding the bottling or packaging date on cans, bottles, or racks. Research suggests that beer storage in the following conditions will result in approximately equivalent flavor loss:
This data suggests that you have almost an entire year to drink your purchased cans of pasteurized beer before it goes bad! And, if you can’t find time to drink some delicious beer in over 300 days, then perhaps beer just isn’t your thing!
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Beer begins aging as soon as the brew has been bottled. The best way to elongate its lifespan? Chill out! Throw it in the fridge at home, even if you don’t plan to drink it until days, weeks, or months later. When your precious brew is stored at the optimum beer storage temperature of 38° F until it’s time to drink, it slows the oxidation process and flavor deterioration. Think of beer like bread or milk; when cold-stored below room temperature, the process of spoiling slows down dramatically.
Additionally, do everything in your power to maintain your beer at a consistent temperature for the long haul. If you are constantly taking it out and putting it back in the fridge, having it go from cool to room temperature and back, it will lose its flavor very quickly. This is called “skunking” a beer.
If you don’t have the extra fridge space required for long-term storage of beer, it’s best to put it in a dark, cool place. High temperatures aren’t the only threat to the vitality and freshness of your beer. Keeping it in a dark place, away from the light is one of the most crucial things you can do, especially if it is in a glass bottle. While a basement may lack the regulated cold temperature of a fridge, it does certainly check off the darkness box. Under the bed or in a closet are additional options for long-term beer storage locations.
Make sure the beer is upright and not lying on its side whenever you store it. Keeping the beer upright is a great beer storage idea tip because it minimizes the amount of the beer’s surface area which is touching the air trapped in the bottle. As food researchers concisely explain, less air contact results in less oxidation of the beer, which means you’re preventing it from breaking down quickly.
Whether you’re hopped up on hoppy ales, experimenting with vintage beers, or want to crack open a cold refreshing light beer after a long day at work, knowing how to store beer to protect it from the elements of nature and time will ensure that you have a divine drinking experience, no matter what kind of beer you prefer. And now that you have received your diploma in beer storage, we hope you enjoy your crispy fresh beverage of choice!
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