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Properly storing beer for both short and long term

Beer_August05_AIn Thailand, and many countries for that matter, buying imported beer isn’t all that cheap. Sure some of it, like the beers brewed by large brewers, is cheaper, but the craft brews really aren’t. So, when you do get some, you probably don’t want to drink it all in one sitting. What that means is that you are going to have to store it. The question is, do you know how?

When it comes to storing beer, there are two main types of storage: Short term and long term. Short term is storing beer for anything less than the beer’s best buy date, while long term is longer. The vast majority of beer sold in Thailand will likely be consumed in the short term, but there are beers available that can be stored for longer. This week’s article will look at storing beer for both the short and long term.

General storage rules
For the most part, storing beer for the long and short term is fairly similar. The whole reason we would want to store beer is so that it will stay fresh longer. Here are three storage tips:

1. Store beer upright
Almost every expert recommends that you store beer upright. This is especially true for any bottled beer that has active yeast in it e.g., Chimay. If the bottle is laid on its side, you will get a yeast ring along the side of the bottle that will not come off. If stored upright, the yeast will settle at the bottom, making for an easier and cleaner (yeast free) pour if you wish.

If you have a beer with a cork in it, e.g., Kastell Cuvee Du Chateau, most brewers agree that unlike wine, this beer should also be stored upright. The reason for this is that if the beer is stored where it’s up against the cork (as it would be if laid on it’s side), some of the flavor of the cork could leach into the beer.

Beyond that, storing beer upright means there is less overall space for air, in other words, beer won’t oxidize as fast and stay fresher longer.

2. Keep the beer away from light
Do you know why beer comes in brown bottles (for the most part)? It’s because beer is sensitive to light, more specifically UV rays. As we said last week, when exposed to UV rays, the hops undergo a chemical reaction to create a chemical that is similar to the odor emitted by a skunk. Brown bottles are used because brown will filter out most, but not all, UV rays. This is one area where cans have an advantage, as they do not permit UV to come through. Clear bottles on the other hand allow all UV while green allows less, but more than brown bottles.

Regardless of the container (can or bottle) and color, beer should be stored in a dark location. The darker the better. In Thailand this usually means a cupboard or the back of your fridge. If beer comes in a cardboard box, it should be ok, as long as it isn’t exposed to direct light.

3. Store it at the correct temperature
The temperature beer is stored at is important, and this can be one of the hardest things to maintain, especially in Thailand. The best temperature to store beer, over any time, is between 7 and 13 degrees Celsius. This range is ideal for extending a beer’s lifespan, and will keep beer fresh the longest

If you store beer at a higher temperature, the overall lifespan of the beer will be shorter. If it’s stored too cold, the beer could become hazy. In Thailand it is nearly impossible to maintain this range if the beer is kept in a place like the cupboard. Therefore, it is probably best to put it in the fridge in order to keep it as fresh for as long as possible.

It is because of this reason many brewers – Americans in particular – will ship their beer from the brewery, and indeed overseas, cold. For the most part, it is a good idea to keep beer stored at a solid temperature. While it can get warm, as we stated above, the life will be decreased.

However, Storing a corked beer long term in the fridge is not advised, as fridges are meant to keep food dry. Therefore, the cork will dry over time, which could lead to the beer spoiling. One way to prevent this could be to cover the top of the bottle, and cork, in melted wax. This will create an airtight seal and prevent the cork from drying.

Long term storage
If you are curious about storing beer for a longer period of time, say two years, you should be aware of the kinds of beer that are ok for aging. Basically any beer with more than around 7.5% ABV will be a prime candidate for aging. This includes beers like Maredsous 8 (Belgian Dubble Ale), Delirium Tremens, Imperial stouts, etc. If the beer is lower in alcohol it likely won’t age all that well beyond six months to one year.

Following the general guidelines to storage should allow you to store beer for years. The truth is, it’s hard to tell exactly how long you can age it for. There are beer bars in Antwerp and many other cities in Belgium with beers that are completely drinkable at more than 20 years old.

To cellar beer, first ensure you can meet the storage conditions. Then order the number you would like to cellar plus one to three extra. Try one to get an idea of the taste of the beer, then cellar the rest. Be sure to note the taste, so you don’t forget. In one year, try another and see how it tastes. If it tastes good, try another in six months to a year. Keep repeating this until you know how long you can cellar for.

Looking for a beer to store? Why not contact us to see what we have. We will even deliver it to you!

Wish of the week
Tripel Karmeliet
I bought a four pack of this before I left for Asia a number of years ago. I made sure to store it correctly and tried it when I went home a year later. It was excellent! Mind you, the beer itself is great without aging, but it will get better with a bit of age. A bit dry, lemony and creamy from the wheat, it was great as a summer sipper. Try one today, or cellar it for a year (properly of course) and try it then!

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