How long is homemade beer good for?

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Indyking

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Hi folks,

I'm a newbie here. I'm just a beginner in the homebrew world and have been using the coopers kit for now until I'm ready to make my own mixture. Does anyone know how long homemade beer is good for after bottled and finished (carbonated)? The kit instruction makes a point that prolonged storage in adequate temperatures will improve quality, but it does not say when it actually expires! I’m afraid to store it too long and loose qualities like commercial beers do! Thanks in advance for your help. :mug:
 

SoonerDoc

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Some say 6 months or so, others claim it's good for years. I think the only way to tell is to try it. :)
 

Mischief_Brewing

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Welcome to Homebrewtalk!

There's no single answer to your question. Some beers benefit greatly from aging while others are best fresh.

Big beers (higher alcohol content) tend to benefit from aging (flavors blend and mellow and the alcohol bite subsides as well)
Hoppy beers do not benefit from aging because hop flavor tends to disappear.
I've heard about people finding 20-30-40 year old bottles of homebrew that were still drinkable, some even really tasty.

If you're like most of us, you won't need to worry about your beer going bad from age, it never seems to last long at all (unless you're purposefully aging it, but even then, it's hard to resist)...
 

alexdagrate

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There's no single answer to your question. Some beers benefit greatly from aging while others are best fresh.
+1.

Fresh Hop IPAs (made with undried hops grown in your own garden) should be consumed within a month or so of bottling. The fresh taste subsides quickly.

Barleywines and Russian Imperial Stouts can age for years and years and improve in flavor. Some of these are aggresively hopped, and the hop flavor will subside and change substantially. Some recipes specifically say to age barleywines for at least a year.

If a beer tastes BAD, many folks swear by the rule of "never dump a bad batch." Some have found that very bad batches or bottle bomb batches will improve with age.
 

Revvy

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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.

Since nothing pathogenic can grow in beer, there's no worry needed about getting sick from them. All that can happen is that they may not have held up over time.

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

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/revisiting-my-classics-160672/

Beer's like wine, a lot of them improve with age....That's why stone has "vertical epic" with vintage, and people have vertical tasting parties...Our beer is really no different, it's not something "less than." Or isn't "real beer" it really is no different, just becuse you make it at home. High grav beers can last a long time...even lower or medium grav ones can, though they will loose some of their "oomph" over time. For example a really hoppy IPA might end up being a pretty tasty pale ale in a year or so. Still drinkable, still good, but not the same.

I'm looking at brewing a biiiiiiiig barleywine in a few weeks, to lay up til my 50th birthday. I turn 45 on friday, so I thought this would be a great thing to do.
 

samc

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Specifically relating to Coopers kit beer, I'd drink them with 6-9 months max. I started "brewing" using Coopers and kept a few different bottles for a year +, they were drinkable but not very good. Seems to me that 2 months or so is the sweet spot for those beers and some of that might be related to the plastic bottles that they provide with the kit.

I no longer bottle so none of my beers last more than 6 months anymore. Usually the old bottled beers over a year tended to be beers that frankly I did not like and they didn't become better for me after a year.

From personal experience I can tell you that the hobby becomes much more enjoyable when you move on past no boil kits. I'd skip straight extract brewing and go to Partial mash or AG if you can.
 

Shoemaker

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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.

Since nothing pathogenic can grow in beer, there's no worry needed about getting sick from them. All that can happen is that they may not have held up over time.

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

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/revisiting-my-classics-160672/

Beer's like wine, a lot of them improve with age....That's why stone has "vertical epic" with vintage, and people have vertical tasting parties...Our beer is really no different, it's not something "less than." Or isn't "real beer" it really is no different, just becuse you make it at home. High grav beers can last a long time...even lower or medium grav ones can, though they will loose some of their "oomph" over time. For example a really hoppy IPA might end up being a pretty tasty pale ale in a year or so. Still drinkable, still good, but not the same.

I'm looking at brewing a biiiiiiiig barleywine in a few weeks, to lay up til my 50th birthday. I turn 45 on friday, so I thought this would be a great thing to do.
I was born exactly 20 years from you Revvy. Happy Birthday to us.
 
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Indyking

Indyking

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WOW, you guys are prompt! Thanks for all the answers so far. I'm going to call coopers to see what they recommend. Hopefully I will get to talk with a real person in their end, someone that actually knows the answer. I was told kit beers last for about 6 months to 1 year.

I’m from Brazil and in that part of the world people drink a lot of what we call “chopp”, which is basically the unpasteurized kegged counterpart of their commercial beers there. Because chopp is not pasteurized, it is good for only a month or so unlike their bottle or canned beer versions, which is pasteurized and last much longer. Since homemade beer is unpasteurized, I was under the impression that my beer would not last longer than a month or so, but I guess I have lots to learn here with the experts. Cheers!
 

Diver165

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I can't get the stuff I make to last more than 3 months. Not because it spoils or anything like that...its because I've drank it all.

I drank some reserve beer down in the smokies this past week. It was supposedly aged for 10yrs. It had no real hop flavor at all. Good beer...different though.
 

SoonerDoc

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WOW, you guys are prompt! Thanks for all the answers so far. I'm going to call coopers to see what they recommend. Hopefully I will get to talk with a real person in their end, someone that actually knows the answer. I was told kit beers last for about 6 months to 1 year.

I’m from Brazil and in that part of the world people drink a lot of what we call “chopp”, which is basically the unpasteurized kegged counterpart of their commercial beers there. Because chopp is not pasteurized, it is good for only a month or so unlike their bottle or canned beer versions, which is pasteurized and last much longer. Since homemade beer is unpasteurized, I was under the impression that my beer would not last longer than a month or so, but I guess I have lots to learn here with the experts. Cheers!
Hops act as a preservative in beer.
 
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Indyking

Indyking

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Specifically relating to Coopers kit beer, I'd drink them with 6-9 months max. I started "brewing" using Coopers and kept a few different bottles for a year +, they were drinkable but not very good. Seems to me that 2 months or so is the sweet spot for those beers and some of that might be related to the plastic bottles that they provide with the kit.

I no longer bottle so none of my beers last more than 6 months anymore. Usually the old bottled beers over a year tended to be beers that frankly I did not like and they didn't become better for me after a year.

From personal experience I can tell you that the hobby becomes much more enjoyable when you move on past no boil kits. I'd skip straight extract brewing and go to Partial mash or AG if you can.

Thanks for your answer! I started with coopers kit because I just wanted to make sure I could actually produce something decent using the basics of making beer. If I could not produce a good and clean beer using a kit, then it would probably be a good idea to stop my growing hobby right there. ;)Anyway, with 4 beers produced so far, there was no contamination, good taste, with color and specific gravity matching the kit instructions. Looks like I’m ready to move to the next stage but I still have 3-4 kits I got in a sale to finish, so it will take a while. I was thinking transitioning to straight extract next but will consider your suggestion of jumping to partial mash or AG instead. Would anyone else suggest the same transition?
 

motobrewer

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i had a bitter that went from excellent at 2 months to very not good at 6 months. not sure why, i keg, so maybe it got oxidized?
 

Grinder12000

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Most of my brews start to go down hill after 6 months. I had one triple that is good for a year and a half but my normal brews all see to go down at 6 months.
 

johnsc12002

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I did a christmas beer once that didn't really get good until the second christmas (1.5 years later), at which time it was awesome. I had intended to hold some to see what christmas number 3 would bring, but between myself and holiday visitors, it had no chance.
 

prosper

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beer never really goes 'bad' in terms of spoilage, though the flavours will mellow over time, and some oxidation character can sneak in. A lot depends on the specifics of the beer in question - it's safe to say that they'll remain in their 'prime' for at least 6 months, though, and most will remain quite tasty for a lot longer than that.

I recently found a few old bottles in the back of my beer cave that are about 2.5 years old. The maple porter is tastier than ever at that age :)
 

Justibone

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I was thinking transitioning to straight extract next but will consider your suggestion of jumping to partial mash or AG instead. Would anyone else suggest the same transition?
You can do sort-of partial mash with the Cooper kits you have now.

Just buy a little bit of grain, maybe something kind of generic like carapils, and then soak it at about ~150F for 45 min. Use that sugar-water as part of your boil water for your Cooper's kit. It will add to the OG in your wort slightly and to the ABV% of your beer slightly, but the biggest difference should be in the flavor.

If you read about partial mash or specialty grains here on the forum, you'll see what I mean. :)
 

Revvy

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You can do sort-of partial mash with the Cooper kits you have now.

Just buy a little bit of grain, maybe something kind of generic like carapils, and then soak it at about ~150F for 45 min. Use that sugar-water as part of your boil water for your Cooper's kit. It will add to the OG in your wort slightly and to the ABV% of your beer slightly, but the biggest difference should be in the flavor.

If you read about partial mash or specialty grains here on the forum, you'll see what I mean. :)
Yup Here's a great article from Oz.Craftbrewer.com, on how to make the best beer with cooper's kits...It's from Australia, the home of coopers, and from the craftbrewer radio guys.

Improving Your Kit

They talk about what Justibone says.
 
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Indyking

Indyking

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Justibone and Revvy, that’s cool, I didn’t know I could actually modify the kit. The link from Oz.Craftbrewer.com is pretty nice. I always wondered if I could replace the bag of sugar that comes with the kit by something else richer without compromising fermentation and the link gives many good options. I'm going to try it on my English bitter kit next time.
 

telefunken

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I just found a case of dark Coopers beer... most likely Coopers stout, that I had made in January 2006. That means it's been aged approx 5 years! They were bottled in regular twist off bottles, and completely forgotten about in the garage until today.

They taste fine, pretty good actually. Still carbonated, a good seal on the bottles I opened so far, and a nice flavor. Looking back, I don't know why I stopped making beer and switched to wine, but I think a new batch is in order...

That is of course, after I finish off this case :)
 

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