Learn How to Store & Serve Your Beer
In an earlier post labeled “Beer Glassware”, appropriate glassware and pouring techniques were discussed.
Beer enthusiasts just like Wine enthusiasts ultimately end up amassing a collection of specialty brews. We aren’t talking about cases of lager amassed for a huge shindig, not at all. Craft Beer imports are particularly difficult to come by in cities such as Bangalore, here in South India. Mumbai and Delhi have better access due to more relaxed State liquor policies. So, picture this – you’ve been able to procure a nice selection of Craft Beer either from abroad or from one of the other Metros and you want to savor these on special occasions. The following questions should arise:
- How do you store these brews?
- What is optimal serving temperature?
Heat and light can damage beers. Bottled beer can become light struck – skunky and inconsistent, if exposed to high heat and bright lights. Most bottled beer comes in brown bottles to reduce such damage. Green and clear bottles don’t as good a job even though they look nicer!
Side note: Ever wondered why some of the bottled imports you buy off the store shelves tastes off? Trace back the beers to where they were stored prior to distribution. Without proper temperature control, you’re Beers are in danger of being light struck considering that temperatures here in India/Bangalore far exceed room and cellar temperatures.
Light Struck/Skunked Beers have an smell and taste that can be off putting – sour/lime smell something similar to a skunk. Why?
Hops that preserve and bitter beers contain isohumulones, a grouping of chemical compounds. These compounds when exposed to visible/UV light form skunkythiol (the same component found in skunk glands).
Oxidation & Heat
Oxidation (exposure to air) degrades Beer. Oxidation is not avoidable but can be reduced at the time of brewing and then bottling/packaging.
Heat can increase the rate of Oxidation of Beer. Oxidation gives you a paper, cardboard off flavor that is certainly undesirable. Prolonged exposures to heat such as those in a garage (40-50 deg C) can produce other off flavors such as cooked corn. For beers that contain yeast (bottle conditioned), a break down of the yeast can produce a burning rubber off flavor.
To prevent heat and light contamination, it is best to store beers in a cool, dry, dark place. A cellar or refrigerator is best. It’s best to store your beers upright – keeps sediment on the bottom and reduces the surface area for potential oxidation.
Buying Beers in cans solves most of the problems above apart from exposure to heat. To read more about the pros and cons about various storage options, you can check out this post.
Room Temperature : 12-15 Deg C
Cellar Temperature : 7-10 Deg C
Refrigerated Temperature : 7-10 Deg C
Follow these basic guidelines depending on what type of Beer you are storing:
- Strong beers (like tripels, dark ales) – Room Temperature (12-15 Deg C)
- Standard ales (like IPAs, Dobbelbocks, Lambics, Stouts, etc) – Cellar Temperature (10-12 Deg C)
- Lighter beers (like Lagers, Pilsners, Weiss Beers, Kolsch, etc) will be at a Refrigerated Temperature (7-10 Deg C)
If your home isn’t air conditioned, it’s best to buy a second (Beer) Fridge and store these brews there.
Most regular lagers have a shelf life of 3-6 months! Check the label on your bottles as well. Even though they say 12 months, everything tastes better fresh. However there are exceptions!
Bottle conditioned Beers that have yeast and sugar added on bottling continue to mature (Lambics, Vintage Beers, Barleywines, Imperial stouts, Belgian strong Ales, old Ales etc.). These are beers ideal for cellaring/storage. You can mature these beers for a year or two years typically. Remember these Beers change over time. You never know what you’re going to end up with – feel free to experiment.
The temperature at which a beer is served can have a huge impact on flavours. Cold temperatures are great for lagers, as they enhance refereshment and carbonation. Warmer temperatures however, bring out the body of the beer and enhance aromas and flavors.
Frosted Mugs work great for lagers but never use them for more complex brews – you will most certainly miss out on flavor profiles, if you do that. Frosted Mugs also cause Beers to over foam/froth, so be wary of that.
The lighter the beer, the lower the temperature or just remember this store temp = serve temp
- Lagers – Best served between 4-8 Deg C.
- Ales – Best served at Cellar Temperature – 10-12 Deg C
- Stronger Ales – Best served at room temperature (12-15 Deg C)
Let your chilled Ales and Stronger Ales sit for a little before serving them.
Featured Image Source: http://www.theporterbeerbar.com/
Cheers and Stay Frothy – Don’t forget to share your beer, use the right glassware and subscribe to this blog and all the krunk that’s listed below. Enjoy!