Craft beer enthusiasts can sincerely debate the best flavor profile to match with a chargrilled burger and various hop varietals for hours on end, but what about beer storage? While tasting a fresh Belgian or imperial stout and discussing its flavor may be more exciting, this issue is crucial if you want your cans and bottles to have the best quality and the longest shelf life possible. Whether you prefer macro lagers or specialty brews, understanding how to preserve your beer will help it stay longer and taste better when you're ready to consume it.
While fervent beer connoisseurs have long had strong ideas on how to care for and preserve ales, preserving beer doesn't have to be challenging. Once you grasp the fundamentals, you'll have all the knowledge required to construct the ideal beer cellar, which, it turns out, may not even require that it be in your basement at all.
Here are some tips for long-term storage that will ensure your beer tastes just as good a week, month, or year from now.
Beer will eventually spoil since it is an organic substance, or a product manufactured from living organisms like grain and herbs. That's just how things are in the world. When storing your collection, keep an eye out for the following three key beer killers in particular:
Light: It brings up a chemical reaction that modifies the flavor and fragrance
Heat: It could lead to an excessive growth of active yeast or, worse, bacteria
Oxygen: This will age the beer's flavor and color, and not always for the better.
Your beers will stay crisp and delicious for a lot longer if you account for these three factors as they get older. In most cases, beer differs from wine in that it is generally intended to be consumed fresh rather than aged. The majority of fresh beer is marked with a "sell by" or "best by" date, which reflects the manufacturer's estimation of the time at which you'll taste it at its best. However, properly stored beer can continue to taste great for up to two years after the expiration date.
The Goldilocks principle is in full force when it comes to the ideal storage temperature for beer: it should be just right—not too hot or too cold.
If your beer is served too warm, it will age much more quickly than it should and develop unpleasant flavors. Heat promotes bacterial growth, which can result in musty tastes or bitter, sour, or acrid flavors that make your brew unpalatable. Unfiltered, unpasteurized beers that still contain live, active yeast suffer greatly from warm temperatures. The yeast will quickly proliferate as the temperature rises, which could result in an explosive situation when your beverage becomes overcarbonated. These beers' overall flavor and alcohol content may also change as a result.
On the other hand, it's not a good idea to keep your beer so cold that it becomes frozen. Due to the increased pressure in the can or bottle, frozen beer is more likely to explode, which will cause a major mess and result in the complete loss of your drink. Even if you can stop a half frozen beer from exploding before it explodes, you might have changed the flavor. This is because if you pour out the ice and drink the remaining beer, the alcohol will have a higher alcohol concentration because the water will freeze before it. The bottle top may come off due to the pressure of the air, allowing oxygen to seep into the beer and cause it to become flat.
Keep your beers in a cool area for optimal effects. The ideal temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn't quite what you'll find in a normal American home. The ideal solution if the temperature of your finished basement or cellar is unreliable is a separate refrigerator for drinks. With the help of a beer refrigerator, you may choose the ideal temperature all year round for excellent long-term preservation.
The location of the bottles on the shelf or in the refrigerator is one of the trickiest concerns about beer storage techniques. In contrast to wine, beer bottles should be stored upright whenever possible because this limits the quantity of oxygen that can reach the beer. Only a tiny amount of beer touches the air in the bottle while you maintain your beverage upright due to the small bottle neck. By reducing the surface area, oxygenation, which matures beer, is reduced. Oxygenated beer has an unusual flavor that has been compared to buttered popcorn or wet cardboard.
Unfiltered beers require upright storage in particular because they may still contain yeast residue and possibly other sediment. In order to prevent a huge yeast ring from forming around the side of the bottle, tip the beer onto its side before storing it. The yeast will combine with the beer when you finally bring the bottle back upright to consume it, clouding the beverage and lowering the overall flavor.
If you enjoy drinking corked beers, the relative humidity of your beer storage room is only relevant to you. These unique beers, whether they are prepared at home or in small batches, stop the bottle with a natural cork rather than a metal cap. Cork expands against the glass bottle to form a seal, but it's crucial to keep in mind that cork only expands when it's been appropriately humidified. Cork shrinks when conditions are excessively dry, which might result in a seal gap. As a result, your beer may get flat or may become contaminated by oxygen and microorganisms.
Unfortunately, as temperatures drop, relative humidity drops as well. That means that a typical kitchen refrigerator, which is usually set at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, is too cold to hold a corked beer. Conditions at these temperatures can be devastating and are frequently too dry for corks. You'll discover that the relative humidity is greater and easier on your corks if you store your corked beers in a special refrigerator set to 55 degrees.
The Worst Place to Store Your Beer
It's simple to understand why you shouldn't keep your beer now that you are aware of what the experts on beer have to say about the best storage conditions. Beer will quickly deteriorate if left on the kitchen counter next to a bright window because the area is too hot and bright. Additionally, it is not a good idea to leave your beer in ice buckets outside because it will still be exposed to harmful UV rays and will be chilled much lower than it should be for drinking. It's also a notoriously bad idea to put your beer in the freezer for a fast cool-down since they will explode if you forget about it.
Invest In A Beer Fridge
What is the best method for storing beer to keep it tasty for a while? Invest in a beverage refrigerator with a temperature-controllable interior that allows you to adjust the relative humidity at 50 percent or lower. Look for adjustable shelves that will let you keep your bottles upright. To prevent your drinks from skunking, the perfect beer fridge will also include doors that exclude sunlight and specific light bulbs that reduce UV rays.
No matter what kind of beer you prefer—hoppy pale ales, vintage beers, or just a cold, refreshing drink to unwind with after a long day at work—knowing how to store your beer to keep it safe from the elements will guarantee a fantastic drinking experience.