How long do lagers last?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Beertsipper, Apr 6, 2021 at 12:18 PM.

  1. Beertsipper

    Beertsipper Devotee (486) Nov 18, 2008 New York

    I bought a fresh 4 pack of O.K. Beer which is considered a European Lager, coming in at 5.6% ABV. I enjoy this beer and frequently purchase it. The last 4 pack had an old date on the bottom of the cans. About six months old. However, when I compared it to a relatively fresh can, there was zero difference in taste. As for Pilsners and IPA's, I try to purchase them less than 8 weeks of canning or bottling. Do lagers basically hold their own when it comes to age?
     
  2. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,736) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Generally speaking I’d say yes a more forgiving a style as to age than say IPAs and Pale Ales. But storage conditions count, beers stored cool and dark is better, and the type of containers count too. A nod to cans over bottles, a nod to packaging that protects the bottles, then Brown bottles, Green, Clear in that order. I still draw my line at 3 months which for me eliminates mostly all imported beers, as I can get local stuff only days old.
     
  3. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (1,887) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey
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    That beer in particular is pretty hoppy/biter in comparison to others in the euro lager style. It’s comparable to German pilsners if not a little more so than that. If there was a drop off over time it would just mellow out. I really like that beer for this reason but unsure if having one “old” would make it sweet
     
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  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Lagers (e.g., Helles, Pilsner, Euro-Lager, AAL,...) like most beers are best consumed fresh. How long a given brand will be 'good' for is based upon a number of factors:
    • How well was the beer packaged as regards TPO (Total Packaged Oxygen)?
    • How was the beer treated during transport & storage? Refrigerating during transport and storage will extend shelf-life since it slows down oxidative reactions.
    • Canned beers totally keep out air (oxygen) so they are beneficial in this regard.
    • etc.
    The other factor is how sensitive is an individual beer drinker's palate to the effects of oxidation. Some of the off-flavors that can occur in an aging Pale Lager are honey-like sweetness, cardboard, etc. Some people will be more sensitive to these off-flavors vs. others.

    Lots of BAs like to belittle Anheuser-Busch but their QA/QC is tops in the beer industry. AB recommends that you consume a beer like Budweiser within 110 days (less than 4 months) from packaging. A reference point worth considering.

    Cheers!

    P.S. Below is a chart I have often posted concerning how well a beer will hold up over time as a function of storage temperature; the temperature is in degrees C:

    [​IMG]
     
    #4 JackHorzempa, Apr 6, 2021 at 2:30 PM
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021 at 2:40 PM
  5. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,876) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Most Euro lagers hold up well due to how they're packaged. The exception seems to be Jever, although it is drinkable at 6 months- it just loses its magic.

    For the rest I try not to push them beyond that 6 month threshold; which is pretty much the "shelf life" halved. At that point there's usually little to no discernible difference.
     
  6. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (1,887) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey
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    I should mention. I live in a high polish demographic and the store I used to work at couldn’t keep this in stock plus keg sales. The cans are very extremely good so it’s easy to find fresh near me. But I don’t know about the bottles
     
  7. BigIronH

    BigIronH Initiate (153) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    I agree with a lot of that except for when it comes to stouts or porters. I’ll easily drink those a year old sometimes more.
     
  8. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (4,577) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Not very long. For me, lagers are the easiest and quickest beer to drink so generally they go right down.
     
  9. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,736) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Oh I agree on those, I’ve aged stouts up to 4-5 years and I understand sours and the like age longer that that. I was only talking about lagers and hoppy ales.
     
  10. jonphisher

    jonphisher Devotee (455) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    interestingly enough I did a quick comparison of that beer just last week. I had December bottles and an old august one. It was obvious to me which was which, snappier smell and bite on the December bottle,but to be honest they weren’t as different as I thought they’d be. Had I not been trying to figure out which was which I’m not sure, results may have been different.

    By the end they melded together to be honest, the beers being so similar accelerated that I believe.
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Would you have a guess as to what the percentage of sales were for can vs. bottles? Was there any prejudice from a segment of the customers against buying canned beers?

    Cheers!
     
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  12. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (1,887) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey
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    The cans we would get iirc about 15-20 cases a week. Around Christmas it was like 30. We sold about 10 cases of O.K. a week. Cans. If they didn’t sell well one week, he’d hold off and within two weeks we’d be done. But Of the bottles we sold the 16-? 19? Ounce loose case it was like 12 or 15 beers. it was like 2-3 cases a week. It was the most popular euro import we sold.we sold 2 kegs of it a month. Which wouldn’t seem like a lot but it sold equal compared to modelo in keg. On the other hand, salva vida and port royal cans from I believe Nicaragua? Sold about the same but much harder to get from the distributor.

    it’s odd. Sometimes Lech would sell out I remember a guy purchasing literally 5 cases at a time, cleaned us out and asked for more. The polish lagers are an odd beast. We’d go from selling no Zyweic at all for two weeks to that third week being out of stock all at once. They buy in bulk so I assume it takes some time to drink their it and that’s when we don’t sell. Then all at once lol.

    I’ll add I do remember if we didn’t have canned okocim then they’d buy another canned beer. They scoff at the bottles lol
     
    #12 Urk1127, Apr 6, 2021 at 5:10 PM
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021 at 5:24 PM
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Interesting. So, the Euro-Lager customers are similar to the modern craft beer (e.g., Haze Bros) crowd.

    A decade+ ago craft beer drinkers would frown on the can format, viewing that as the format of BMC drinkers. Today, can is KING!

    [​IMG]

    Cheers!
     
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  14. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Defender (644) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey
    Trader

    I understand cans keep out oxygen but I have been coming across cans of local IPAs/Pales that have been pouring murky brown in color and seem less bright and seem off compared to the same beer on draft. Can the issue be the canning line in use allows oxygen to be introduced into the beer right before being sealed ? The beers are New England style in nature and fresh under a month old. What could be going on ? I wish not to name the beer or brewery as I have already brought this to their attention and am awaiting response.

    Heres one of the beers:
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. jonphisher

    jonphisher Devotee (455) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    I think it’s QA issues on canning line @DEdesings57 not a hazy ipa but I also bought a local brewed beer that was low filled, not by a huge amount but noticeable. It was oxidized and less carbed than the rest of the four pack. Different scenario but the QA at smaller places just doesn’t seem to be where it could be. Just wanted to comment as well since I had a similar issue recently too.
     
  16. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (1,887) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey
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    Yes sir they ask me for it I’d say yea so and so drivers whenever but we have bottles they’d refuse and pick another canned option.
     
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  17. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Defender (644) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey
    Trader

    Yep I am also familiar with those issues. Usually those under-filled cans are not supposed to be sold to the public but one does slip from time to time. My gripe is when the whole 4-pack has the issue which recently I got burned on by two different breweries this past month alone, which sucks. I wonder what specifically is happening on the canning line that is causing the problem. I think your right about QA and I truly believe the issue is originating on the canning line somehow. Not sure if there are settings that can be adjusted that affects Total Packaged Oxygen like @JackHorzempa mentioned before or if they just need a better canning line?
     
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Short answer: yes.

    Longer answer below:

    Juicy/Hazy IPAs are especially sensitive to oxidative reactions. Consequently there is a need (requirement) for an extremely low TPO value be achieved during canning.

    Do you happen to know whether the brewery/brand you pictured was canned via a mobile canning service? FWIW I am leery of breweries that utilize a mobile canning service since I have multiple concerns:
    • How well was the system calibrated/setup post transport to the brewery?
    • Does the mobile canning service utilize a DO (Dissolved Oxygen) meter to test/ensure that the packaged oxygen spec value was achieved? And if the first can does not meet spec do they immediately stop the canning process and rectify the canning line/
    • etc.
    Now, even if the brewery owns there canning lines this in and of itself does not guarantee that a low TPO value was achieved during the canning process but at least with a fixed/permanent installation there are less variables here.

    Please let us know what you learn from the brewery in response to your query.

    Cheers!
     
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Do you happen to know whether those two different breweries own their canning lines or do they utilize a mobile canning service?

    Cheers!

    P.S. One other drawback of using a mobile canning service is that you need to schedule them in advance (sometimes way in advance). If the beer to be canned is not ready for canning (i.e., needs a few more days of further conditioning) the brewery has two options:
    • Cancel to canning appointment and reschedule (which could be another 1-2 weeks into the future, tying up tank space)
    • Can the beer anyway since their is a business need to empty the tank.
    Cheers!
     
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  20. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (1,652) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    Well, it's all over the place, but I cracked a Pfriem Export Lager from 2018 (not kidding) and it was delicious last week. Not even refrigerated, just kept in my basement and forgotten. Thanks, Lager!
     
  21. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,110) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Generally about two minutes...it seems that many German beers are supposed to hold up for a year.
     
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  22. o29

    o29 Initiate (90) Sep 29, 2020 Texas
    Trader

    Actually had this happen to me about 2 months ago with the last 6 pack of Victory's Prima Pils I purchased so it seems the issue may not be exclusive to smaller breweries.

    After purchasing I noticed that 1 of the 6 cans seemed 80% lighter than the others, and upon opening it I was at least curious to sample whether it was simply underfilled or oxidized as well. Unfortunately it was both. There were no visible dents or anything that would have indicated that the can was mishandled or had leaked in transit.

    I was surprised that this occurred with a brewery as large and well established as Victory but at the time just chalked it up to poor luck of the draw.
     
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  23. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (463) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Euro beers are subject to a lot of travel conditions that domestic beers are not. Lagers in particular suffer as a result. So bear in mind that comparing domestic lagers to imported lagers is an unfair fight. European beers are D.O.A. or in the very least on life support.

    • The beer is loaded onto a truck and heads out to the warehouse.
    • Then it goes into a shipping container and sits.
    • Shipping container makes it to the dock, and waits to be loaded.
    • A few weeks at sea.
    • Unloaded and sits on a dock. Customs.
    • Travels to the brewers domestic distributor. May sit until orders come in.
    • Small volumes loaded onto a truck for local delivery or may be shipped to another distro, where it sits again.
    • The next small volume, from the original large shipment, waits for the next local order. The large stockpile is that much older.
    • Maybe, along the way, the weather cooperated and the beer was not baked in a hot truck or container.
    • Then, you get a great imported European lager.
    Suffice it to say, domestic beer does not have these logistics.

    And, in addition, European kegs (and potentially bottles) are pasteurized while domestic kegs are not. So the domestic keg must be kept cold brewery to consumer and the Euro keg is pre-cooked to withstand the travel.

    Which is why you must travel to Europe to enjoy a fresh lager. I am not kidding. Anyone who has done it will tell you that the difference is substantial.

    Cheers
     
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  24. o29

    o29 Initiate (90) Sep 29, 2020 Texas
    Trader

    That's some quick spoilage!

    "Honey, you don't understand, if I don't finish this 6 pack in the next 120 seconds it's going to go bad!!"
     
  25. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Defender (644) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey
    Trader

    the one from the picture I sent owns their own canning line. I had bought two different 4-packs from that brewery at the retail store that day. One NE IPA and the Other a hoppy pale but not NE style. The hoppy pale was perfect while the NE IPA was way off.

    The second brewery which I did not send a picture of does not own their own canning line but their NE IPA had the same exact issues as the beer pictured above. Muted brown in color as well.

    So the common denominator between the two breweries was that both issues happened with their NE style beers. I dont have any issues for other NON NEIPAs beers from this brewery either.
     
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  26. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,278) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    ... and amazingly still manage to be preferable* over the American brews for the most part. Talk about an unfair fight. :wink:

    * Which naturally says more about my taste preferences than the general quality of American brewing. I buy my meat DOA too, even though others will tell me that there's no comparison to fresh stuff. Life has its compromises.
     
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Not too surprising since Hazy/Juicy IPAs are more susceptible to oxidation.

    A brewer should shoot for less than 100 ppb for TPO. Ideally they should achieve something less than 50 ppb TPO. A can of Juicy/Hazy IPA with 100 ppb TPO will show effects of oxidation (e.g., darkening of color, noticeable hop fade, etc.) fairly quickly (e.g., a month or less from canning) while a non-Hazy/Juicy IPA that is 100 ppb will be less affected at a month after canning.

    Breweries that are producing Juicy/Hazy IPAs really need 'top shelf' canning lines and those that use mobile canning lines will more readily be impacted here.

    This past weekend in NBW I discussed Tired Hands DDH Weedeater DIPA. On the side of that can (as for other Tired Hands beers) it lists (with emphasis in bold by me):

    "The beer in this can is hyper fresh, unfiltered and fragile. KEEP COLD. Enjoy the contents ASAP for a beautiful and befudding organoleptic experience. Oh yeah."

    I obtained this can on the day it was canned (2/25/21) and I immediately put that beer in my refrigerator (to honor the "KEEP COLD" direction). I did not follow the ASAP direction but by keeping this beer cold it was still drinking beautifully last Saturday (4/3/21). See photo below.

    Cheers!

    [​IMG]
     
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  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,736) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Ewwww, looks like apple cider, and that looks like a mess is what it is.
     
  29. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,900) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    The question was... "How long do lagers last?"

    I was going to reply similarly to RG, "In my house? Not long at all." :grin:
     
  30. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,597) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    I bought a 6pack of Anchor Steam back in December that was around 2 months old. I bought another last week, same canning date, and I will say that it is just as good. Shrugs.
     
  31. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,667) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    I have one of those Coors Light baseball bat bottles, unopened. I believe 2021 is the silver anniversary year of this bottle release. Maybe I'll crack this one for WBAYDN some time. Coors Light with 25 years on it? What could possibly go wrong? :nauseated_face:
     
  32. yester

    yester Initiate (9) Apr 30, 2013 Netherlands

    The easy answer to this is: depends on filling technique.
    Filling lines are rightly among the most expensive equipment in breweries and there is a gulf of operational and technical quality differences out there that only enhance the awareness and care of aging processes taken upstream. So the answer is the same regarding IPA: some breweries IPA I still cherish after 10-12 month in decent storage conditions, others I wouldn't touch at 6 weeks. And low quality canning seams often increase that difference (assume good storage conditions)
     
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  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,176) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    See, I'll take the opposing view - "They last forever." * :smiley:

    Depending on alcohol content, of course, but after a few weeks to several months, they start to taste kind lifeless and dull. They get cloudy, the hops fade and they'll start to taste sweet, they'll develop sediment and often will become darker. The main point is they are not fresh nor what the brewmaster intended (the marketing guy, the financial guy, the CEO and stockholders often differ).

    *(Well, some of the old steel cans, supposedly, would even rust enough at the seam and split, but it took decades and I've got a perfectly fine can of Schlitz circa 1955 IIRC. Speaking of which...)

    Next "Online Tasting"?
    [​IMG]
    Lousy photo - several phones ago.

    L-R, a Manhattan Brewery anniversary ale (triangular bottle), Ballantine IPA (Cranston), Miller Ale, Ballantine Brown Stout, Rolling Rock, Schlitz, Hoboken Ale, Ballantine XXX Ale (Newark), Neuweiler Porter.

    All bought at flea markets for a buck or so, so past "shipping and storage conditions" are unknown. And, hmmm, I guess mostly OT since only the Schlitz and Rolling Rock are lagers...

    Ah, but have you tried 6-18 month old US-brewed all-malt pilsners/light lagers, that have experienced higher than preferable temperatures and otherwise abused during long periods of shipping and storage? It could be (and you gotta know I hate to even type this phrase) "just your palate"...:grimacing:
     
  34. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (463) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    No wonder why you prefer Communist European beer.
    I'm not believing any of this socialist bull shit until you post a chart in degrees Fahrenheit, like God and Country intended!
     
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    LOL!:grin:

    For the interested student: “Invented in 1742 by the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius”.

    Sweden is not Communist by my reckoning but…

    Cheers!
     
  36. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,597) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    If you find yourself needing to quickly convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, here is a simple trick you can use: multiply the temperature in degrees Celsius by 2, and then add 30 to get the (estimated) temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
     
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  37. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,826) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
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    Fahrenheit was from Gdansk, so he is listed as Polish-Lithuanian.
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Heck, even Jethro could do that. He learned his 'gazintas' in school!

    [​IMG]

    Cheers!
     
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  39. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,900) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Um. Gdansk was German at one time... Danzig. But I guess that's getting into politics. :wink:
     
  40. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,826) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
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    Yes it was Prussian. After Faherheits time.
     
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