Author Topic: Beer is best by when . . .?  (Read 900 times)

Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Beer is best by when . . .?
« on: June 10, 2016, 08:13:52 PM »
I was looking at a Brewer's Friend checklist for brewing and it suggests that "Ales are ready to go about 4-6 weeks after bottling."

Under what conditions?

I usually brew in the  brown-ale-to-stout spectrum, malt forward, light on hops.  I'll give the wort two weeks minimum fermentation time before bottling.  Bottle carbonating takes another week or two at ambient temp in my house --typically warmer in summer.

After a pop-the-top test on a chilled bottle seems carbonated sufficiently, I refrigerate the remaining bottles at about 40 F.

A temp of 40 F should slow ale yeast down to practically nothing so if the brew is still improving what is the cause?
Or does the Brewer's Friend checklist not apply if the beer is refrigerated that soon?

Is kegging different than bottling in this regard?

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2016, 08:34:02 PM »
I wouldn't put too much stock in a check list.

Two weeks to carb should be sufficient at warmer temps.  Cooler temps can take longer, and who knows what Brewers Friend assumed.  The beer won't be harmed by sitting longer, though it will change with time and at some point it's likely been sitting too long.

Chilling it will help to maintain freshness, but it will still change with time.  What is the cause?  Time, yeast, temp.

Someone who's more scientific and not at NHC can give you a more detailed answer.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2016, 09:54:20 PM »
Initially packaged beer usually tastes slightly "green". This is caused by yeast still in suspension, hops that have not quite balanced with the malt, proteins/tannins that may not have fully settled out, and yeast character that has not mellowed out enough.

As the beer ages, yeast, proteins and tannins drop out helping the beer to clear.  Hops meld better with the malt as it starts to round out and overall the beer becomes more in balance. If the beer is kept cold(er) it can help to speed up some of these processes while allowing the beer to also maintain its stability for a longer time than at warmer temps.

With that being said, I have found that most kegged beer is ready to drink much faster than bottled beer.  At least IMO.

Offline charles1968

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2016, 06:31:43 AM »
Bottle conditioning takes 3-4 weeks at room temperature in my experience. One week isn't enough. I'm not sure where the 4-6 week figure comes from - maybe cellared bottles stored a bit cooler?

Storing cold after conditioning is definitely a good idea - improves clarity and preserves flavour.

Offline dilluh98

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2016, 03:51:23 PM »
Bottle conditioning takes 3-4 weeks at room temperature in my experience. One week isn't enough. I'm not sure where the 4-6 week figure comes from - maybe cellared bottles stored a bit cooler?

Storing cold after conditioning is definitely a good idea - improves clarity and preserves flavour.

+1.

I want a separate mini-fridge just for this purpose. Once my bottles hit their stride, I'd like to get a bunch of them in the fridge to preserve them. I can only take up so much space in regular fridge.

Offline a10t2

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2016, 04:33:14 PM »
I suspect the Brewer's Friend advice is there to ensure that new brewers don't have any problems.

My average-gravity ales ferment out in about 4-6 days, then get a 2-3 day warm rest and 2-3 day cold crash, so it's unusual for them not to be kegged/bottled by the two week mark.

Kegs are ready to go once the finings settle (I try to hold out a full 3 days). Stored warm, bottles typically carbonate in less than a week. If you fill one plastic bottle, you can at least roughly monitor the pressure building and watch the yeast flocculate.

Once a beer is at that point, time and temperature are the enemy. Ideally I'd try to *finish* drinking a batch before it hits 6 weeks in the package, but that doesn't always happen. As long as your sanitation and oxygen pickup are good, beer shouldn't go "bad", but fresher is usually better.
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Offline dilluh98

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2016, 04:42:55 PM »
I suspect the Brewer's Friend advice is there to ensure that new brewers don't have any problems.

My average-gravity ales ferment out in about 4-6 days, then get a 2-3 day warm rest and 2-3 day cold crash, so it's unusual for them not to be kegged/bottled by the two week mark.

Kegs are ready to go once the finings settle (I try to hold out a full 3 days). Stored warm, bottles typically carbonate in less than a week. If you fill one plastic bottle, you can at least roughly monitor the pressure building and watch the yeast flocculate.

Once a beer is at that point, time and temperature are the enemy. Ideally I'd try to *finish* drinking a batch before it hits 6 weeks in the package, but that doesn't always happen. As long as your sanitation and oxygen pickup are good, beer shouldn't go "bad", but fresher is usually better.

Carbonation in the bottle is typically fine after one week at relatively warm room temps but I think there are things that are still going on that bring even a typical gravity ale together over the next two weeks - even for hop-forward ales.

Offline denny

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2016, 06:02:55 PM »
My average-gravity ales ferment out in about 4-6 days, then get a 2-3 day warm rest and 2-3 day cold crash, so it's unusual for them not to be kegged/bottled by the two week mark.


Pretty much the same here.  Maybe another week for lagers.
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Offline charles1968

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Re: Beer is best by when . . .?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2016, 08:25:38 PM »
Carbonation in the bottle is typically fine after one week at relatively warm room temps but I think there are things that are still going on that bring even a typical gravity ale together over the next two weeks - even for hop-forward ales.

I reckon the timing varies from person to person. Mine are still flat after a week, but I prime with dry sugar and store at 65F. Dissolving the sugar first and storing warm would speed things up.

I'd say they peak at about 6 weeks in the bottle and stay good for 6 months. Dry hopped beers deteriorate more quickly though and can taste unpleasant as they age.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 08:31:51 PM by charles1968 »