How to Properly Store Beer – Part 2 of 2
..continuation from previous post.
Different Beers, Different Methods
The beer you buy will have storage temperature recommendations on the label—especially small batch and craft beers made by smaller, independent breweries. However, there are a few cardinal rules for beer storage.
- Never lay beer on its side: Unlike wine bottles, which are supposed to be stored on their sides, beer should never be laid on its side. Instead, you should always store beer in a top-up position. This will allow the yeast to settle at the bottom of the bottle, instead of rising to the top or mixing in with the rest of the beer. All Danby beverage centers are made for upright storage.
- Keep beer away from light: Even the slightest source of light (UV light included) can, over time, spoil the hops mixed into the beer—this term is called “light struck,” and will turn what would be a pleasant brew into a skunky mess. When left in light for too long, the beer will taste and smell, literally, like a skunk’s spray, so keep all beers, no matter what kind, in a dark place. This is why beer is often bottled in grown glass—brown glass significantly reduces the possibly of spoiling by UV light.
- For collectable beers, do not keep in a refrigerator: Since a refrigerator is very dry, it is not recommended to keep collectable beer—or beer you intend to age—in a refrigerator for too long. If they are corked, the dry air of the fridge may hurt the cork’s integrity and let air into the bottle.
As far as temperatures go, it is best to check the brewer’s label on the bottle. The recommended temperature will usually be on the back label of the bottle, along with other information such as the brewer’s location and the ingredients used in the brew. If you are unsure, or if there is no recommended temperature on the label, here are a few basic temperature outlines to follow for various kinds of beer. Every beer is different especially craft beer so it is best to do your research first.
- Stronger beers with higher alcohol content—such as “dubbels,” “tripels,” and dark ales—prefer to be stored between 55˚and 60˚F (12.8˚ to 15.5˚C). Incidentally, this is room temperature, so you could likely store them in your basement if its temperature is consistent.
- Standard beers with medium alcohol content (India Pale Ales, stouts, bocks) should be stored around 50˚F to 55˚F (10˚C to 12.8˚C).
- Lighter beers with lower alcohol content, such as lagers and wheat beers, should be stored around 45˚F to 50˚F (7.2˚C to 10˚C)—this is considered refrigerated temperature.
While some temperatures are intended for personal serving preference, others are absolutely essential to the overall taste and chemical makeup of the beer. Again, check for a brewer’s recommended temperature, and if there is not one, keep in mind what kind of beer you are storing and why you intend to store it.
Aged Like a Fine… Beer?
Though it may seem counter-productive compared to aging wine—which often requires aging to release the subtleties of its bouquet—some beers can indeed be aged, sometimes for years if done properly. Certain beers come aged already (often in casks), whereas other brewers recommend you age it in your own home.
Some brewers recommend aging their beer in a cellar, as the flavours must fully develop in the bottle to get the ideal consistency, flavour, and colour intended by the brewer. However, some beers require experimenting to reach the perfect age—you must pay attention to the best before date on the label or bottle to find the ideal time to age the beer. Any longer and you may spoil it—any shorter and you may not get the most out of aging your beer.
In general, beers over 7% ABV (alcohol by volume) are good for aging—many lighter beers, not so much. When a beer is intended to be aged, it will likely state this on the label or through its marketing. If you are curious and ready to experiment with beer storage, consider buying a bottle to drink immediately and one to age.
Conclusion—Use Your Best Judgment
Regardless of the type of beer you have, you must always pay attention to temperature, light exposure, and bottling. Simply put, if the brewer has instructions for storage, use them—if there are none, consider what kind of beer it is, its ABV, and how cold or cool storage may impact its flavour and body.
The best part about aging beer is experimenting! Don’t be afraid to fail—have fun with trying new brews, drinking them cold, drinking them a bit warmer, or storing them for a few years. The hardest part is not drinking them before their time comes!