You spent your hard-earned money on some good beer—it would be a shame to let it spoil just because you stored it incorrectly! Here are 5 mistakes you might be making that is accelerating the decimation of your beer:
Mistake #1: You Left the Beer in Your Car
Its summertime and you just grabbed a case of pilsner to quench your thirst at your friend’s upcoming pool party. But after your stop to the beer shop, you needed to run to Target. Then Home Depot. Then to the movies...While you’re running all these errands, the beer is sitting in high temperatures either in your trunk or your backseat. Treat your newly-purchased beer like a gallon of milk—you wouldn’t leave that in your car in the hot weather, would you? Heat will essentially “cook” the beer and break it down, leaving you with plenty of off flavors. Make the beer shop your last stop when it’s warm outside so you can quickly get it home and out of the heat. (The same goes for wine, too).
Mistake #2: You Are Storing Your Beer in the Garage
Garages are possibly the worst place to store your beer. You might as well just keep it outside, which is also a no-no. Unless your garage is temperature-controlled, your beer is going through many temperature fluctuations—too much heat on the hot days, and near-freezing temperatures on the cold ones. Your precious beer needs to avoid temperature fluctuations whether they be hot or cold, so keeping the beer inside, or better yet—in the fridge, is ideal.
P.S.—once your beer is cold, it should stay cold, so avoid taking beer out of the fridge unless you plan to drink it right away.
Mistake #3: You Are Exposing Your Beer to Light
You probably know that sunlight can “skunk” beer in minutes (make it smell like a skunk..and therefore ruining it), but did you know that artificial light can do the same? Even if you are storing your beer inside your home (yay!), if the bottles are constantly seeing sunlight or the lights from your home, they can still be affected. So store your beer in the darkest, coolest part of your home, like in a basement or a closet.
Side Note: this applies to bottled beer only; cans are the only vessel that blocks 100% of light from the beer. Brown bottles block 95% of the light, but clear, green, or blue bottles offer almost no protection against skunking. This is also why so many beers come packaged in surrounding cardboard—to protect them from the effects of light.
Mistake #4: You Are Waiting Too Long To Drink Your Beer
Beer is not wine, friends, so don’t age it. Some beers can age, yes, but 90% of them out there are meant to be drank fresh. Many beers contain an expiration date or a date of production; if you don’t see a date, drink that beer within 3 months. If you’ve been keeping it in the refrigerator, it will be good for up to 6 months. After that time frame, the hop aromas will start declining as well as any bitterness, fruit or malt components. In even more time, the beer will develop signs of oxidation and off-flavors. Bottom line, just drink your beer.
Mistake #5: You Are Storing The Beer on Its Side
Again, beer is not wine, so there is no reason to store it on its side. Many people think that beers enclosed with corks need to be stored on their side to keep the cork moist but really, the cork will be fine (unless you are aging your beer for upwards of 15 years, which may be too long even for aged beers). Beers should be stored upright so that any yeast or sediment that develops will settle to the bottom of the bottle—so that when you pour out that beer, you can leave the glop behind. This really only pertains to older, purposely-aged beers and hefeweizens, but now you know that beer needs to be stored upright.
How to Correctly Store Your Beer
So, let’s quickly summarize how you should store your beer based on all of these mistakes I just mentioned:
- Store your beer upright in a cool, dark place to avoid contact with heat and light
- Drink your beer within 3-6 months of purchasing, depending on how cold your storage conditions are
- Avoid temperature fluctuations in your beer by all means (once it’s cold, keep it cold)
- Never leave your beer in a hot car/trunk
See, that’s not so hard, right?
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