General brewing information, questions and discussion. Topics that do not seem to fit elsewhere.
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There seems to be 2 schools of thought on lagering (aging) homebrew. Many feel aging is key for optimum flavor, but others contend that beer is a perishable food product that is best enjoyed fresh. Note that Anheuser-Busch has begun including a "born on" date on their labels and recommend consumption within 110 days. Personally, I tend to stick to the freshness side of the argument as well. However, a friend once shared with me some of his Belgian style homebrew that was over a year old and it was delicious. The reasoning behind my stance is that if I want the brew for a later date, I will go ahead and enjoy what I have and just make more for later! By the way, exactly how long did you want to keep your brew for?
Several different factors can affect how well your beer ages. Care taken in sanitation pays off in better quality and longer shelf life. Keeping oxygen out of your beer prolongs shelf life. Storing your beer at the lowest possible temperature (above freezing) prolongs the beer's life. Wildly flucuating storage temperatures will likely have a negative impact on your beer so if you can't store it at ideal temperatures, at least try to keep temperatures fairly constant. Bottle conditioned beers should be kept at about 70 F for two weeks to allow carbonation before storing at lowwer temperatures. Hifgher gravity beers generally age better than low gravity brews and some, barley wines for example, may inprove after several months of storage.
Beer that has living yeast in the bottle is more stable than filtered beer. Thus it has a longer shelf life. High gravity beers also tend to improve with age. I have noticed definite improvements in the flavor of some of my beers when I have allowed them time to age. I always save some of every one of my batches to drink after they have been aged.
I once brewed a cherry stout which tasted great after 3 years. The cherry flavors which were hidden by the heaviness of the stout were more perceptible after that amount of time. Some barley wines only improve the longer they age, some need to age 3 years or more before they mellow out. I say hang on to a couple of them...if you can!!!