hist-brewing: keeping of beer

ABailey554 at aol.com ABailey554 at aol.com
Thu Sep 23 18:27:47 PDT 1999

<Does anyone know how long it takes for ale and beer to go off? I can't find
<any reference to this except from the common notion that the addition of
<hops and gruit improve the preservation.
<thank you.

The reason it's hard to pin down how long it takes for beer to go off is that 
there are too many variables.  The previous response that boiling & sanitary 
techniques make a big difference is correct.  Assuming the wort is boiled, 
the main factors in longevity seem to be alcohol content, specific gravity, 
and hopping rate (or other preservatives).  For example, a mild ale, which 
has a low gravity & alcohol content can spoil in days/weeks, even if it's 
been boiled etc.  But an imperial stout, with its higher alcohol content & 
hopping rate can last for years in the bottle.  The same with barley wines, 
which are often not served until they've aged several years.  I recently 
finished drinking a batch of imperial stout that I made over 1 1/2 years ago 
- it was still good & was better at 18 months than at 6 months.  I also 
remember dumping a mild ale after 2 months because had soured (it wasn't 
contaminated - just tasted sour).  Many of the modern how-to books on 
homebrewing mention how long certain beer styles last in the bottle, but 
these are only guidelines because refrigeration & your brewing techniques 
have such a large effect.


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