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Old 06-29-2010, 12:38 AM   #1
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Default homebrew's long shelf life

I have a simple question. It seems that, based on what I have read in books and on these forums, homebrewed beer has a much longer shelf life than commercially brewed beer you buy in the store- why is this, especially considering commercial beer is pasteurized?

In the past, I've always thought of beer having a pretty steady decline in freshness...whereas all I seem to hear about homebrew is "just continues to get better with time" and "your beer should stay fresh for at least 6 months".

Just how does it do it??

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Old 06-29-2010, 12:39 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdufford View Post
I have a simple question. It seems that, based on what I have read in books and on these forums, homebrewed beer has a much longer shelf life than commercially brewed beer you buy in the store- why is this, especially considering commercial beer is pasteurized?

In the past, I've always thought of beer having a pretty steady decline in freshness...whereas all I seem to hear about homebrew is "just continues to get better with time" and "your beer should stay fresh for at least 6 months".

Just how does it do it??
It might take quite a while for the beer to get from the brewery, to your glass. Also the only things that get better with time are bigger beers, and beers that sucked in the first place. Good beers, (such as stone ruination) are at their prime after its brewed! as with home brew, sometimes it takes a while for the yeast to clean up the "mistakes" of the brew
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Old 06-29-2010, 12:41 AM   #3
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The flavor of beer changes over time. It always has, and it always will. With homebrew, that's an expectation. With commercial beer, that is generally viewed as a fault.

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Old 06-29-2010, 12:47 AM   #4
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Yep. Some homebrew is still better without a lot of aging and it has more to do with the style than whether or not it's a commercial beer or not. You lose hop aroma over time, some beers like a lot of wheats and hefes are best consumed on the young side, whereas bigger and more complex beers may not fully come around for a year. It all just depends.

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Old 06-29-2010, 01:25 AM   #5
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I'll tell you why homebrew lasts longer than commercial brew...WE DON'T USE PRESERVATIVES!!!

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Old 06-29-2010, 01:25 AM   #6
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Homebrew beer is alive and pasteurized beer is dead. Dead things decay a lot faster than living.

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Old 06-29-2010, 02:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurmey View Post
Homebrew beer is alive and pasteurized beer is dead. Dead things decay a lot faster than living.
That could be it too...
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:57 AM   #8
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It's not true. A Belgian strong, barleywine, Russian imperial stout, or sour kriek gets better with time. I had a great 1999 Alesmith Grand Cru a month ago. A homebrewed super hoppy IPA loses hop flavor and aroma just as quickly as the bottle of Pliny that has "do not age" warnings plastered all over it. And the vast majority of commercial beers have no preservatives other than hops, and many are living.

That said, there are a couple of reasons that it seems like homebrew ages better. First, most beer is fine aging a few weeks or months; commercial beer has often done that already by the time it's aged, shipped to a wholesaler, sold to a retailer, stocked, shelved, and sold to you. It's almost never too green. Second, brewing at home is less tightly controlled and more likely to have real flaws that will age out with time--most commercial breweries are dialed in via repetition to the point where that's not an issue.

The green beer thing is the big on-once you learn not to rush things, you shouldn't need tons of aging for most semi-normal styles.

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Old 06-29-2010, 10:33 PM   #9
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depends on the commercial beer you're comparing our brew to. BMC is fast fermented, filtered and rushed to the store. it has almost no hops, and hops are a natural sort of preservative.

there's also very little malt flavor.

So, those american light lager beers have no flavors to really mature/meld...they can be drank as soon as they are carbed.

and many light light home brews like Hefeweizen, Kolsch or many pale ales are best 'young' before the delicate flavors fade (or you lose too much of that dry hop in the pale)..while a stout or barleywine might need a full year to even taste 'right' let alone 'peak flavor'.

the BMC crowd thinks 'yesterday's born on date = perfect' ...but the true beer afficionado's out there know better.

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Old 06-29-2010, 11:11 PM   #10
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According to wikipedia:
Filtered beer tends to have a relatively short shelf life, rarely more than a year, as many compounds in the sterile beverage break down into unpleasant tasting ones. Live yeast inside the bottle acts against these processes, giving the beverage a much longer shelf life. A good bottle conditioned beer can maintain its drinkability for many years, and some can be aged for decades.

Makes sense, because (for example) if you have a small amount of oxygen going on in your beer from racking or what have you, then your yeast can use it up. If you keg your beer (especially if you filter it), then there are not as many active yeast cells in the beer anymore, flaws that they would have consumed in a bottle conditioned beer become more apparent.

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