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Old 09-28-2006, 02:36 AM   #1
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Default How long will homebrew stay fresh for?

I know it will depend on factors like alcohol content, but is there a general rule of thumb for the average beer?

I'm trying to let them sit a little after bottling to age a bit, but how long is going to be too long?

Thanks!

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Old 09-28-2006, 11:59 AM   #2
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I've got four bottles of Raspberry Ale that was bottled in April that is still good. I don't know what the upper limit is, this is the longest anything I made has lasted.

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Old 09-28-2006, 12:52 PM   #3
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The rule for average types of nonbottle-conditioned beers is to get ‘em in the fridge and drink ‘em as soon as possible because for certain, nothing good will happen to the beer by hanging on to it. The exceptions to this rule are with bottle-conditioned beers and some high alcohol beers. Obviously, with bottle-conditioned beers, the beer must carbonate in the bottle and this takes time. Meaning the beer improves for some time and then begins its downhill slide.

Some high alcohol beers improve with age and much of the improvement with these beers is actually a product of oxidation. Many aged big beers, such as barleywines, take on flavors reminiscent of sherry (that also gets much of its flavor from oxidation). I know of no rule of thumb matching the alcohol content of beer with its ability to age gracefully. I typically try to imagine how a beer would taste if it was “rounded out” by age. Many strong beers that do seem to benefit from age are big, malty and balanced by assertive hop bitterness when young. I think this is why many strong ales seem to improve with age. I myself have Belgian Strongs and Chocolate Stouts rounding 4 years.

The only reliable way to monitor a beer and determine when it reaches its peak is to taste it. This requires a whole bunch of the same beer and persistent quality control. Meaning you have to drink your stash and take notes on its progress. Ideally you will note the point when the beer is ever so slightly passed its peak and you can finish off the remainder before the flavor really begins to suffer. You may see a trend with beers under 6% normally hitting their peak between 3 to 6 months. Times may vary depending on cellaring practices.

Hope that helps,
Wild

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Old 09-28-2006, 01:14 PM   #4
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Helped me!!! Thanks for that insight.

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Old 09-28-2006, 02:26 PM   #5
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there has been some discussion of yeast autolysis(yeast death) from too long in secondary.
i am curious if this happens in bottle conditioned barleywines that are aged for one or more years??
edit- judging from wilds statement of a belgian and a stout at 4 years old - i guess there is no problem?

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Old 10-01-2006, 12:25 AM   #6
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Thanks for the insight...

So am I correct in thinking that any beer I have that is less than 6 mos old should remain at room temperature to age, or will it continue to condition and age in a refrigerator?

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Old 10-01-2006, 03:11 AM   #7
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I'm drinking Hefe Weizen over 1 year old...and have a case of Bock that's over 2...

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Old 10-01-2006, 03:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave8274
Thanks for the insight...

So am I correct in thinking that any beer I have that is less than 6 mos old should remain at room temperature to age, or will it continue to condition and age in a refrigerator?
Beer should be aged at celler temperatures. That said my garage got kind of warm this summer but I just finished the last bottle of my barley wine from last October and it was at.
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Old 10-01-2006, 02:24 PM   #9
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Keep them cool and they're good for 6 months at least. ABV's over 8% last for years.

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Old 10-01-2006, 02:27 PM   #10
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ive got some bottles im going to be conditioning... but my temps arent that low in my room, could i just let my bottles float around in a big tub of water? (the temp of the water seems to stay around 68)

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