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Old 09-07-2009, 03:58 AM   #1
Octang
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Default Ales Aging in the Refrigerator

I was originally under the impression that when you put an ale in the refrigerator it stops the aging process and the flavors do not continue to change. Is this correct?

I have read a few things that make me question this, and I have also recently tasted a few of my beers that have been in the fridge for a short period of time and it seems like their flavor did continue to change a little, but it could be my imagination. (i generally throw homebrew in the fridge a few hours prior to drinking it)

Later this week I plan on sampling a beer that I've had in the fridge for a few days already along side another beer from that batch which I will throw in the fridge just a few hours prior to tasting.

I'd appreciate it if any of you guys could shed some further light on this topic for me.



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Old 09-07-2009, 04:47 AM   #2
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After you stick it in the fridge, the yeast stops doing its work. It doesn't really mean it stops aging, but it ages at a much slower pace... a pace that will be pretty much un-noticeable to most people.

I usually stick my beer in the fridge a few days before I want to drink it. This way, the yeast stays stuck to the bottom when I pour. Also, you may be noticing flavor differences just because of the change in temps.



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Old 09-07-2009, 04:58 AM   #3
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Thanks for the thoughts.

What do you mean by flavor differences because of change of temps? I don't drink any of my beers until they have had time to chill in the fridge, so they are all drank at the same temperature. Did I misunderstand you?

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Old 09-07-2009, 02:37 PM   #4
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A couple of days isn't enough to make a comparison. Beer will age in the fridge, just takes longer. I'd suggest taking a sixer, put 3 in the fridge and 3 at room temperature. Then compare bottles at 2, 4, and 6 months.

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Old 09-07-2009, 06:39 PM   #5
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David is bang on - there absolutely will be a difference over several months if you store beers at different temps. Flavours definitely change more slowly at colder temps. Google Arrhenius equation. But that doesn't mean that you want to store beer at warmer temps.

Aging, is not necessarily supposed to be done at room temp. Also some beers shouldn't be aged. A blonde or an IPA for example are best drunk fresh. 6 months after brew date these beers will seldom be 'better'. For proof, as Russian River about aging a Pliny the Elder.

Flavour stability post-packaging is most highly influenced by temperature. Reactions happen fast at higher temps. So it is true that beer will 'age' faster at warmer temps, but it will also stale or go bad faster at warmer temps! For example a light ale with a 3 month shelf life (@ 40F) could stale in a few weeks if stored in a 90F garage.

I personally age everything at 40-45F in my keezer. My barley wine will take longer to reach it's peak, but all of my beers will last longer. Generally, you do not want to store beer for the long term at room temperature.

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Old 09-07-2009, 07:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorryWort View Post
David is bang on - there absolutely will be a difference over several months if you store beers at different temps. Flavours definitely change more slowly at colder temps. Google Arrhenius equation. But that doesn't mean that you want to store beer at warmer temps.

Aging, is not necessarily supposed to be done at room temp. Also some beers shouldn't be aged. A blonde or an IPA for example are best drunk fresh. 6 months after brew date these beers will seldom be 'better'. For proof, as Russian River about aging a Pliny the Elder.

Flavour stability post-packaging is most highly influenced by temperature. Reactions happen fast at higher temps. So it is true that beer will 'age' faster at warmer temps, but it will also stale or go bad faster at warmer temps! For example a light ale with a 3 month shelf life (@ 40F) could stale in a few weeks if stored in a 90F garage.

I personally age everything at 40-45F in my keezer. My barley wine will take longer to reach it's peak, but all of my beers will last longer. Generally, you do not want to store beer for the long term at room temperature.

Is there any way I can get a good idea how long and at what temperature is best to age various beers? I see some recipes tell me their recommendations, but most do not. I understand high gravity beers need longer aging and beers like wheat beers require less. However it seems like there is still a lot to learn about aging all the beers inbetween.

I keep all of my bottles (ales) in the closet at room temperature for 3 weeks before I consider drinking any of them. At that point I just refrigerate as many bottles as I will drink that particular day and leave the rest in the closet until I think I will want to drink them.
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Old 09-07-2009, 09:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Octang View Post
Is there any way I can get a good idea how long and at what temperature is best to age various beers? I see some recipes tell me their recommendations, but most do not. I understand high gravity beers need longer aging and beers like wheat beers require less. However it seems like there is still a lot to learn about aging all the beers in between.

I keep all of my bottles (ales) in the closet at room temperature for 3 weeks before I consider drinking any of them. At that point I just refrigerate as many bottles as I will drink that particular day and leave the rest in the closet until I think I will want to drink them.
Sounds like you're doing the right thing regardless of the beer.

Here's my philosophy - There's not one right answer for any beer. If you age them warm reactions will simply happen faster, and sometimes this can be good. However, all beer has a limited shelf life - the stuff just doesn't last forever. Therefore, I think the cooler the better.

Now, don't confuse aging with carbonating in the bottle. You are absolutely correct to leave them in a room temp closet for 3 weeks, and then refrigerating them. This should be done for all beers.

Carbonating is often confused with aging, but it isn't the same. For example, if you make a huge beer and the recipe says to age it for 6 months before drinking it, you still only need to leave it in the closet for 3 weeks, and then put it in the fridge for 6 months.

If you age it warmer over those six months it will probably be drinkable earlier, but it won't last as long.

Does that help?
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Old 09-07-2009, 09:32 PM   #8
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^^^ Yes, that all makes perfect sense. Thanks!



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