Storing, Cellaring and Aging Beer

Sadly, for the past few decades, the big U.S. breweries have conditioned people to think that a beer is only refreshing if it's served freezing cold. The problem, and no doubt their intent, is that flavors and aromas are harder to pick up if beer is ice cold. This is fine if the beer's bland to begin with, but not ideal if you 're drinking something a bit more complex

HOW TO STORE BEER

A refreshing beer isn’t necessarily cold. Different styles of beer demand different storage conditions to achieve the perfect serving temperature.

A cool cupboard, cold cellar or chilled fridge are the many places to store your beer. If you don’t have a cellar, then anywhere dry and consistently cold, such as a garage or utility room, is just as good. Alternatively, keep your beer in a kitchen cupboard and cool it down in the fridge before serving.

Drink opened beer and don’t even try storing it. The carbonation will evaporate, and you’ll have awful flat beer even if it’s only the next day. If you can’t drink it, use it in the kitchen or elsewhere.

AGING BEER

A correctly aged beer can soften or decrease harsh flavor notes; allow flavors to blend, resulting in increased complexity; reveal flavors that remain constant as others fade; and create a unique beer experience.

Only a few beer styles will benefit from extended storage if you can provide the appropriate conditions: a dark, wine-cellar-like environment with steady temperatures. Know how long you can store beer for, especially if you’re seeking to age the beer. Different types of beers have different use by dates owing to which brewing process was used and whether the beer was made for fast consumption or for longer-term keeping or aging.

While there will often be a use-by date on beer sold in large commercial quantities, not all brewers will have a good idea of how long their brews can be aged for, and the possibility ranges from 6 – 8 months to 25 years, dependent on brand, storage methods, and quality of the beer.

High-alcohol brews such as strong ales, Imperial stouts, quadrupels, and barley wines are the best candidates for cellaring and may improve with a year’s aging or even more. Some aficionados cellar them for a decade. The changes are hardly predictable, but many beers become more mellow and wine-like, with nutty or sherry-like aromas.

Shelf life of those beers not designed for aging is about three months

Alcohol by Weight (ABW)

STORING BEER

With most beers, fresh is best. Light, heat, and changes in temperature quickly extract a toll, staling or oxidizing bottled beers within weeks. As a rule, the lighter the beer (in both color and alcohol), the faster its decline.

In general, American beer can be stored from four to six months, while imported beers can be stored up to a year. Beers over 7 percent alcohol tend to fare better for aging purposes. Specialist beers made for longer keeping will often make this clear as part of the marketing; indeed, some beers do not even begin to develop the flavors intended by the brewer for 2 to 5 years.

Craft beer should generally be stored upright to allow the yeast (Sediment) to settle to the bottom, rather than leaving a yeast ring or water mark on the side that won’t even settle or mix in Also, storing the beer upright lessens oxidization, thereby ensuring that your beer keeps longer. If the bottle is corked-as modern corks do not tend to dry out or soak up air-the beer can be stored sideways but not widely recommended. If the beer is stored sideways it should be rotated regularly like wine. Despite the older association of cans with low-end beer, many craft brewers have switched from bottles to cans to minimize the impact of light and extend their products’ shelf life.

Store beer away from light, a dim or dark location is strongly recommended.  The hop alpha acids, which provide bitterness, will react and break down when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) and even blue light causing your beer to develop ‘skunky’ or ‘light-struck’ flavors.

Get the storage temperature right. Heat spoils beer over time, so beer is best kept at cool but not frozen temperatures. Although some people enjoy freezing their beer prior to consuming it, frozen beer cells never quite return to the way they used to be and so the beer won’t taste as good. Suitable storage places include a beer cellar or the refrigerator, although long-term storage in a refrigerator is not recommended for collectible beers you plan on keeping a very long time, as the dehydrating environment of the refrigerator will eventually impact the cork.

Storing beer

RECOMMENDED STORING TEMPERATURES

The right storage temperature for beer is dependent on the type of beer.  A guide for the recommended storing temperature is listed. Be sure to keep the temperature constant.

Strong, higher alcohol content beers (milds, porters, stouts, Imperial stouts, Belgian tripels, barley wines, and vintage ales) benefit from a temperature around 55ºF to 60ºF (12.8°C – 15.5°C), which happens to be room temperature and can be stored in a cool cupboard.

Standard, mid-range alcohol content ales (pale ales, golden ales, blonde ales, IPA’s, bitters, IPAs, lambics, stouts, and dobbel bocks, etc.) benefit from a storage temperature around 50ºF to 55ºF (10°C – 12.8°C), which is cellar temperature.

Lighter alcohol content beers (lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, milds, low-cal, etc.) benefit from a storage temperature around 45ºF to 50ºF (7.2°C-10°C), which is the refrigerated temperature.

Unless you have a dedicated beer cellar or fridge, the best compromise for storage is around the 50ºF to 55ºF (10°C – 12.8°C) temperature range.

Closeup photo of household alcohol thermometer showing temperature in degrees Celsius