lifespan of kegged beer

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odie

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in another forum I saw something mentioned about the freshness of kegs...I figured it's better asked in this forum...

I have a 13% RIS on tap that was brewed back in Jan 2020. It's been on tap for a year now and may have another 6-12 months before it's done. Granted this style probably ages well. But with 7 taps going, some are obviously going to last a while as I drink them. And I have finished kegs of "regular stuff" ready to drink that may sit 6 months before tapping.

How long does beer stay "fresh" or whatever once it's kegged? Granted there are a lot of variables...purged of oxygen? Or was priming sugar used to help with any oxygen removal? transferred & kegged after fermentation or fermented in the keg (should be oxygen free). Storage temp...etc...

I typically store my kegs around 40' in a freezer until it's time to tap. If I'm short on storage space the lagers get the cold storage before ales.

I keg ferment (just recently started) so I assume they are as purged of oxygen as they ever will be.
 
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I'm in to hear responses as I have wondered the same thing. And also agree about the variables that will have an affect on freshness. Purged of oxygen, and also curious about ppl using antioxidants and whatnot, assuming that will help as well.
 

Golddiggie

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I ferment and carbonate in conical. Transfer to keg once ready as well as can via Tapcooler. Not had any issues with this method since I started using it. I drink very little (most of my HB goes to others either via can, or when they come over for some off tap). Which means the kegs (2.5 or 3 gallon) tend to last a while. I make sure to NOT brew another batch of the pale ale(s) until the current keg is almost gone. Hop flavor/aroma fads over time (normal) so that's really the only impact I've had. Stouts, and dark beers (even low ABV) last longer. Especially when kept temperature stable (once packaged).
 
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"FRESH" or "whatever" I guess is a term tossed around but I don't "REALLY" know what its referring too exactly. Taste? Fresh I would think refers to age and if that's the case then "FRESH" cannot be manipulated and doesn't matter how you package it, bottles or kegs. If you mean "GOOD" or "IDEAL" or just drinkable... WELL... That's a whole different thing. I have kegged beers and then taken them off the tap tossed them in the back of the keg fridge and only pull them out for "special occasions" and have had them kegged and WONDERFUL for over 7 years. Probably past their "FRESH" date but still absolutely wonderful. I guess what I am getting at is fresh is a relative term that IMHO means, well.... FRESH like days old. Your kegged beer if kegged properly and good sanitation practices are used will "LAST" a really long time.

Cheers
Jay
 
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odie

odie

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OK...point well taken...

Fresh meaning they still taste "right". Taste like they are supposed to. Not lost anything over time.

Say you had a batch and did 2 kegs out of it. Purged the kegs as best possible. Drink one as soon as it was ready (finished cold crashing, lagering, whatever) and put the other away in cold storage. How long could #2 sit and then get drunk and be just as good as the first keg?
 

deuc224

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If its under co2 serving pressure, I would save a very long time. I had a chocolate stout on tap for about a year and it stayed tasting good, actually got smoother and better with time. I think darks will stay better longer for some odd reason but that is all just guesstimation.
 
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odie

odie

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Well, more wondering about lighter varieties of ales, hefe, and pilsners. I guess you could say they are more "delicate"?
 

Lefou

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Mine doesn't seem to last more than couple of weeks because I drink it all ...

But seriously, I don't keg, I bottle. One of my brews actually aged more than a year. It was a case of bottled amber ale, a bit over 6.5% ABV. Done in October, left to lager over the spring and summer, and cracked open during the fall. Tried one bomber, and it was so good I had two. Like I said, it didn't last long. Assuming as long as the bottle caps don't allow oxygen or the beer bottles aren't stored horizontally, anthing over 6% "starkbier" can last months. That's good enough for me.
 

day_trippr

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My friends and family "gang" is pretty much about pales/ipas/neipas and plough through those too quick for them to fade. But I also like to keep a wheat of some kind and of course the huge chocolate stout on tap as well. The stout could survive for years, no doubt and in fact they routinely go a good six months with virtually no perceptible change. But the last fruited wheat also lasted for 6 months and still tasted and looked wonderful. And I've had neipas that were brewed in late June kicking in December that were still killers.

It's all about being uber OC about cold-side O2...

Cheers!
 

RyPA

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You need to drink more beer.

I always consider IPA's as having a short shelf life, so I don't keep cans in the fridge or let my kegs hang around too long. Interested to see how long my most recent brew lasts, which was fermented in the keg, with dry hops floating in the beer.

I recently added a second tap to my kegerator, I plan to keep 1 tap as an IPA, and the other a long lasting beer, like a stout or porter.
 

day_trippr

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I'm speaking in Covid terms here, fwiw.
Pre-Covid I pretty much had to hit the 200 gallon mark to keep up with visitors. That was fine, I enjoy brewing!
I actually had to dial down my volume in 2020 because nobody was going anywhere from early March and on.
In 2021 I solved the same problem by having my spine explode, but that's a whole 'nuther story ;)

Cheers! (feeling much better now, almost 4 months post-op :))
 

OleBrewing

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A unpasteurized beer will change during it's life span. Different varieties age better than others. Dark beers tend to mellow out the sharp bitterness over time making them smoother. Hoppy beers will fade in hopness overtime. If a beer is lack of oxygen presumably should last a very long time. Same principle with canned food although beer is not canned at high temps the food in the lack of oxygen in a sterile environment will last many years but the quality will degrade. A man once ate 30yr old canned meat. Anyway the type of beer will be the determining factor in all of this, it will not be the same at three weeks or at year from then.
 

Elric

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In 2021 I solved the same problem by having my spine explode, but that's a whole 'nuther story ;)

Cheers! (feeling much better now, almost 4 months post-op :))

Glad to hear you are feeling better. On third month of greatly reduced mobility/ability to do daily tasks while waiting for surgery on my neck. Spines and the nervous system can be right evil when they want to be!
 

Oleson M.D.

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My personal experience...

Rarely have we had a keg of our beer go bad, stale, non-drinkable. But a keg normally will be consumed within 3 to 6 months, most often less than that.

The high OG beers, Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, will last a long time. A very long time. Delicate beers such as German Pils or a Munich Helles, are better if consumed early. Have you ever had a bottle (or a can) of pilsner that was a year old?

Guinness Stout (in kegs) will last many months past the kegs pull date. We know from experience!

We have had a 1/6 bbl keg of Budweiser go sour, after 6 months. Yes, it was really SOUR! Had a keg of Sam Adams Oktoberfest go bad after a number of months too. You could still drink it, but you did not want to.

Had a 1/2 bbl keg of Hofbrau (from Munich) that tasted great, until the very end. The last 4 or 5 pints from the keg were not good.

To sum up...never had our beer go bad in a keg, but had commercially brewed beer go bad.

We learned that by filtering our beer, it became more stable and the shelf life was improved.
 
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bwible

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I’ve also had a RIS occupying one of the two taps on my kegerator for about a year and a half. We don’t drink it often. I wouldn’t say it has lost much. It’s close to being kicked and I’m glad.

That was a special brew because it was a homebrew club brew where a bunch of us got together and all brewed the same beer then met up to fill a used bourbon barrel and age it for 6? months.

But I’m going to learn not to put something like this on tap in the future because we don’t drink it often, a year and a half is a long time, and there are other beers I would rather have on that tap. Especially as I only have 2. I would rather have this beer in bottles. And how long stuff stays “good” in a bottle is another question. I have barleywines from 2017 in bottles that are still pretty tasty but obviously aged.
 

bwible

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On the other hand, I uncovered some very old bottles of strong ales I did from 2005 to 2007. One was a double mash beer, first time I did that. Remains of a couple batches of barleywines and one RIS. I opened a couple for grins, and let’s just say none of those are particularly good (or even drinkable) at this point. So there are limits.
 

day_trippr

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I kegged my first barleywine. Huge mistake.
Eventually bottled the last three gallons after a year in the keezer...

Cheers!
 

superiorsat

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I would rather have this beer in bottles. And how long stuff stays “good” in a bottle is another question.
I would think you could bottle off the rest to free up the tap and have up to 6 months to drink it. I had an imperial stout that I bottled off a case out of the keg ( purged O2 from headspace as setting the cap on as best possible ) for a buddy who is only home on weekends or every couple of weeks due to being on the road for work so much. He was the perfect age tester for me because he would share with a buddy and would each have a bottle when he came home. Bottled off the keg at about the 10 day old mark, the bottles at about the 3 month mark he mentioned this beer has hit a whole new level, just up to the start of the 6 month mark the beer was in its prime. After 6 months oxygen was setting in ( I'm sure due to the bottle cap ) , and was starting to bring about a touch of butterscotch flavor they didn't mind so I had one and was like this beer is past its prime. My kegs have never made it more than a month or 2 so can't chime in on that exactly. Was guessing 3ish months light not hoppy, 6+ months dark and strong, under 3 months for hoppy, but again that is some what guessing as my oldest kegs never made it that long.
 
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bwible

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I would think you could bottle off the rest to free up the tap and have up to 6 months to drink it. I had an imperial stout that I bottled off a case out of the keg ( purged O2 from headspace as setting the cap on as best possible ) for a buddy who is only home on weekends or every couple of weeks due to being on the road for work so much. He was the perfect age tester for me because he would share with a buddy and would each have a bottle when he came home. Bottled off the keg at about the 10 old mark, the bottles at about the 3 month mark he mentioned this beer has hit a whole new level, just up to the start of the 6 month mark the beer was in its prime. After 6 months oxygen was setting in ( I'm sure due to the bottle cap ) , and was starting to bring about a touch of butterscotch flavor they didn't mind so I had one and was like this beer is past its prime. My kegs have never made it more than a month or 2 so can't chime in on that exactly. Was guessing 3ish months light not hoppy, 6+ months dark and strong, under 3 months for hoppy, but again that is some what guessing as my oldest kegs never made it that long.
Its very light and almost ready to kick. I plan to brew 2 lagers coming up for those taps. One will be a lighter golden lager and one will be an amber lager. I’m not even ready to start those yet and it will take 7 weeks or so til either of those is ready so its all good. I have plenty in bottles and about half a keg of lager now. I need to get that keg out of there soon though because I use the kegerator to lager and I will need the space.
 

Elric

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This is a great reason to have some smaller kegs in rotation. I do five gallon batches for easy drinking beers that I know we won't get tired of. I have kegs that range between 1-3 gallons and will use those for beer styles that won't age well and need to be finished sooner, strong beers you only drink smaller portions of (I'll generally only ever brew 1 gallon sizes for imperial stouts) and weird experiment beers that I want to see how they taste and don't want to risk a full sized batch in case they end up a dumper (fingers crossed, so far have only had one dumper of an apple cider with earl grey tea added, it wasn't horrible but just weren't enjoying it enough so dumped the last third of it to free up a tap for something else).
 

bwible

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This is a great reason to have some smaller kegs in rotation. I do five gallon batches for easy drinking beers that I know we won't get tired of. I have kegs that range between 1-3 gallons and will use those for beer styles that won't age well and need to be finished sooner, strong beers you only drink smaller portions of (I'll generally only ever brew 1 gallon sizes for imperial stouts) and weird experiment beers that I want to see how they taste and don't want to risk a full sized batch in case they end up a dumper (fingers crossed, so far have only had one dumper of an apple cider with earl grey tea added, it wasn't horrible but just weren't enjoying it enough so dumped the last third of it to free up a tap for something else).
I do have some 3 gallon kegs and I used to use them more. I’ve been doing 5 gallon batches for the kegerator, 3 gallons for everything that goes into bottles. You’re right though. I should think about using the 3 gallon kegs more.
 

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I don't have cold storage space in summer. A pale in pressurized keg, closed transfer to lessen O2, will have hop flavor noticeably fade starting at the 2 - 3 month mark in my experience.

Temperature is not your friend, and O2 and temperature together are the Mad Max and gasoline combo to prematurely age your kegged beers. Hopefully with less weird bad guys. And sand. And explosions. But with the same post apocalyptic disappointing results.
 

madscientist451

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I have bottled high ABV beers that are 5+ years old and they taste fine to me. Are they still "fresh"? Well not really, but still good. Some beers are going to age better than others. I'd say don't worry about it, if the beer starts to taste "off" just pour it out and make room for another one.
 

RyPA

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Agree on it varies based on style. IPA's seem to lose their hoppiness relatively quickly, so should always be enjoyed asap.

I have a bottle of Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA from over 10 years ago, and on the bottle says it ages well. Curious to see how it tastes when I get around to drinking it. I remember having to ask my beer store to hold bottles of this for me, and last night in the beer store they had a 4 packs sitting out on the shelf, plenty of them. I guess Boston Beer co increased production.

Was happy to find 4 packs of Hopslam, I've been waiting to try this.
 
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