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Old 01-28-2013, 03:41 PM   #1
blarsen71
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Have a couple of beers that are waiting on empty kegs. How long can a beer last in a secondary?

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blarsen71
Have a couple of beers that are waiting on empty kegs. How long can a beer last in a secondary?
Pretty long I'd say, keep it sealed and you'll be fine. They say homebrew can be stored up to a year before it starts to go bad.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:45 PM   #3
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As long as you need them too. That's the point of a secondary, to bulk age beer. Depending on the gravity you can have a big beer bulk aging for years before bottling or kegging. I have a 17.5% barleywine that was in secondary for a year and a half and has been in an oak barrel for 10 months. I'll be bottling it soon, and aging it in the bottles til my 50th in 2 years.

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:46 PM   #4
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If you plan to keg, years.

If you plan to bottle condition you do need some yeast viability left in the beer or you would have to add additional yeast to allow it to bottle carbonate. I have secondary aged a big beer 3 months before and it still bottle carbonated fine, just took about 6 weeks to do so.

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by emiller0408 View Post
Pretty long I'd say, keep it sealed and you'll be fine. They say homebrew can be stored up to a year before it starts to go bad.
I don't know who "they" are, but properly stored beer doesn't "go bad" unless your sanitization is weak. The character of a beer may change (an IPA may become simply a pale ale as the hoppiness fades,) but that doesn't mean the beer is undrinkable.

Beers have lasted and been drinkable for hundreds of years in bottles, if stored properly. Our own Mbowenz recently tried a beer that was brewed in 1852. There are still drinkable bottles brewed for Napoleon.

Beer is really no different than wine, homebrew or otherwise. Properly stored it can last and be drinkable for 100s of years.

To put it in perspective, in the Dec 07 Zymurgy Charlie Papazian reviewed bottles of homebrew going back to the first AHC competition that he had stored, and none of them went bad, some had not held up but most of them he felt were awesome...We're talking over 20 years worth of beers.

This is a great thread about one of our guys tasting 4-5 years of his stored brew.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/revi...assics-160672/

And I brewed an og 1.150, 150 IBU barleywine that I won't be opening for 5 years.

Not to mention the fact that there are vertical tasting for certain beers like Stone epic, where people collect each years beer and then sample a flight of them going back in time.

I just had this expericence not too long ago... We tried 48 year old beer today. One was interesting and drinkable, and one was gnarly.

Now this isn't saying a beer won't change, or lose some of it's character, but still a drinkable beer. Gravity and storage conditions are the two bigger factors. But beer isn't as short lived as for example Budweiser with their silly born on dates, would have folks believe.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:51 PM   #6
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As long as it is being stored properly (no head space or head space is purged with CO2, and in a sanitary vessel), the answer is forever. That said, the flavors will change. Hop flavor and aroma will dissipate with age, and the malt body will start to get more complex as the alcohol flavors meld. There is a limit though, but it is personal preference. For instance, some would say a 2 year old Double IPA is gross. I would just call it a nice and well aged barleywine.

Also, any oxygen pickup you got during transferring will start to rear it's head over time. That above all is the killer of aged beer. I prefer to use kegs as my secondary vessels so that they can get stored under a blanket of CO2, then transferred to a fresh keg under pressure. That way, except out of primary, the beer is never in contact with any outside air.

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