We all understand the pleasure of savoring a well-crafted beer. But do you know that how you store your beer significantly impacts its taste?
It can be the difference between a wonderfully balanced brew and a disappointing one. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the key steps to properly storing your beer, so you can enjoy it at its best every time.
To properly store beer, keep it in a dark, cool place, ideally at around 50-55°F (10-13°C). Store upright to reduce contact with the cap and allow yeast sediment to settle. Always consider the ‘best by’ date, as most beers are best enjoyed fresh.
What Affects Beer Quality
How Light Affects Beer Quality
Light, specifically ultraviolet light, can dramatically affect beer quality. When UV light interacts with the hops in beer, it can trigger a chemical reaction, creating a compound similar to the one found in a skunk’s spray—hence the term ‘skunked’ or ‘light-struck’ beer. This can result in a strong, unpleasant flavor and aroma that significantly alters the beer’s original profile. This is why beers are often sold in dark-colored or opaque bottles, which provide some protection against light.
Why Temperature Matters
The role of temperature in beer storage cannot be understated. Different temperatures can bring out different flavors in a beer, impacting its overall taste and character.
At higher temperatures, beer can age faster, which might result in unwanted flavors. Too cold, and you risk slowing down the aging process too much or muting some flavors.
Consistency is key here. Frequent fluctuations in temperature can cause the beer to expand and contract, potentially damaging the integrity of the beer and causing off-flavors.
It’s important to store beer at a consistent, suitable temperature—generally around 50-55°F (10-13°C) for most beer types—to preserve its intended flavor profile.
How to Store Beer Properly
Keep it Dark
The simplest solution to protect your beer from light is to store it in a dark place. If you don’t have a cellar or a dark cabinet, consider storing your beer in a box or covering it with a cloth.
Maintain a Consistent, Cool Temperature
The ideal temperature for storing most beers is around 50-55°F (10-13°C). However, different types of beer may require slightly different storage temperatures.
Consider the Orientation
Many beer enthusiasts argue over the correct way to store beer – upright or sideways. As a general rule, beers should be stored upright.
This minimizes the beer’s contact with the cap, reducing the risk of metallic flavors. Additionally, it helps collect any yeast sediment at the bottom.
Consume Within the ‘Best By Date
While some beers might improve with age, most are best enjoyed fresh. Always check the ‘best by’ date and try to consume your beers before this date to enjoy them at their peak.
Just like beer, wine also benefits from careful storage; keep your bottles in a cool, dark place, ideally at around 55°F (13°C), and always lay them on their side to keep the cork moist. Check out our post on how to store wine at home to learn more.
How to Store Kegs and Growlers
For craft beer enthusiasts who’ve taken their love of beer to the next level with home kegs or growlers, proper storage is crucial.
Kegs, once tapped, should ideally be consumed within a few days to a week. They should be kept cold, typically in a kegerator, to maintain optimal freshness.
Growlers, on the other hand, are great for transporting fresh beer from the brewery. Once filled, a growler should be kept cold and consumed within 1-2 days for the best flavor. Here are some guidelines about beer serving temperatures that you might find helpful.
After opening, it’s best to finish the beer within a few hours as it quickly loses carbonation and can oxidize. When storing empty growlers, keep them clean and dry to avoid bacterial growth.
Cans Vs. Bottles Storage
The debate between cans and bottles for beer storage is a classic one among beer enthusiasts. Each packaging method has its advantages and potential drawbacks.
While bottles are traditional and are often associated with premium or craft beers. Dark glass bottles offer protection from light, which can skunk a beer.
However, even dark bottles can allow some light in, and this could be a problem if beers are not stored in a dark place.
Additionally, bottles require a bottle opener, and they’re generally not as portable or recyclable as cans.
Cans, on the other hand, offer superior protection from light and are also airtight, preventing any potential oxygen intrusion which can lead to beer staling.
They’re lightweight, portable, cool down quickly, and are widely recyclable. The notion that can impart a metallic taste to beer is largely a myth, as modern beer cans are lined with a water-based coating.
However, cans may not be as aesthetically pleasing to some, and the perception that canned beers are of lower quality, though increasingly outdated, still persists in some circles.
Ultimately, whether beer is packaged in a can or a bottle won’t matter much if you store and handle it properly. Both can deliver a great beer-drinking experience if the beer is kept away from light, stored at the right temperature, and consumed by the best-by date.
A Quick Guide to Beer Storage Temperatures
Different types of beers require different storage temperatures. Here’s a quick guide:
|Beer Type||Ideal Storage Temperature|
|Pale Ale||44-52°F (7-11°C)|
The Refrigeration Myth
A common misconception in beer storage is the belief that all beers need to be constantly refrigerated. While refrigeration can help slow down the aging process and maintain the freshness of beer, it’s not always necessary for all types of beer.
The ideal storage temperature for most beers is around 50-55°F (10-13°C), which is typically warmer than your average refrigerator setting.
Additionally, refrigeration can sometimes be detrimental, especially if temperatures fluctuate frequently, as it can cause the beer to expand and contract. This could potentially alter the beer’s flavor and character.
Of course, if you’re planning to drink the beer in the near future or it’s a type of beer best-served cold (like a lager), then refrigeration is appropriate.
The key takeaway here is that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to beer storage doesn’t apply, and it’s essential to consider the specific needs of the beer type you’re dealing with.
Key Points to Remember
Here are the key points to keep in mind when storing your beer:
- Keep it dark: Protect your beer from light to avoid a “skunky” flavor.
- Maintain a consistent, cool temperature: Heat and temperature fluctuations are enemies of good beer.
- Store upright: This helps to minimize the beer’s contact with the cap and allows yeast sediment to settle at the bottom.
- Drink fresh: Unless it’s a beer designed to age, aim to consume your beer before its ‘best by’ date.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Avoid these common mistakes to keep your beer tasting its best:
- Storing beer in a brightly lit area: This can cause the beer to become light-struck and taste “skunky.”
- Keeping beer in a fridge or area with fluctuating temperatures: Consistency is key when it comes to temperature.
- Laying beer bottles sideways for an extended period: This can result in off-flavors from the beer’s contact with the cap.
- Ignoring the ‘best by’ date: Most beers aren’t meant to be aged and should be consumed fresh.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Store Beer
Understanding proper storage is not just key for beer lovers. If you enjoy a great cup of joe, knowing how to store coffee properly can ensure your brews are always top-notch. Or, for those into cooking, proper olive oil storage is crucial for keeping that fresh, flavorful taste. Check out our guides on coffee and olive oil storage for more tips.
Properly storing your beer can make all the difference in your drinking experience. With a bit of knowledge and care, you can avoid common storage mistakes and keep your beer tasting as the brewer intended.
Remember to keep your beers dark, cool, upright, and fresh. So, here’s to great beer and the simple pleasures it brings. Cheers!