As experts in beer storage, we put together this two part blog series covering everything you need to know about beer. Have some tips yourself? Be sure to comment with them.
So, you’ve finally come across that barrel-aged, dark-malted, cascade-hopped pale ale you’ve been dying to try since your friend raved about it. The bottle cost a small fortune, the brewery only makes a small batch every few years, and you’d like to save it for a special occasion. How would you store a beer as special and valuable as this?
Brewing beer is as much an art as it is a science—as we enter the thick of the growing trend of craft and small-batch breweries, there are countless kinds of beer at our disposal. However, as every wine has a different palette and chemical makeup, different beers require different methods of storage depending on their bottling, shelf life, ingredients, and what kind of beer it is.
The Chemistry of Beer— What Makes Beer Pop?
Understanding what kind of storage certain beers “like” and “dislike” begins at the chemical level. There are many different molecular processes involved in making beer, but for the sake of brevity, let’s take a quick look at the basics.
Beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world—even older than wine, beer brewing dates as far back as Ancient Egypt and possibly even earlier! Though there have been countless developments in making beer (particularly in Europe), the basic formula has stayed very much the same: wheat, yeast, water, and flavouring agents such as hops.
Let’s take a very brief look at the brewing process. When malted grain is “mashed” (vigorously mixed) with hot water, the grain produces a liquid called wort. The wort is then mixed with yeast to ferment the wort solution—the fermentation process converts the glucose in the wort into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, giving beer both its alcohol volume and its carbonation.
Fermentation can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on the style of beer being brewed. It can also be fermented in warm or cool temperatures—for example, many “saison” style beers are fermented at a warm temperature, whereas lagers and lighter ales are fermented at lower temperatures. The kind of beer brewed largely depends on this step—again, fermentation dictates the alcohol volume and consistency of the beer. When this fermented liquid is cooled and filtered, voila! Beer is made. Enjoy responsibility.