How long would you say an IPA is good for?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by SerialTicker, Jan 26, 2013.

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  1. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    Totally. I had a fresh case of HT and some Lawson's which I happily went through in a three week period. HT was a totally different, still very good, but not fantastic beer after the two week mark (no this is not one of those "this beer is stale 3 days after bottling" posts) but it's definitely true that flavor and aroma hops fade pretty quickly on heavily late/dry hopped beers. I actually cellared my last can of Heady from that case to see what happens after a year or so.

    I'm fairly new to the game and don't know shite, but I think that the fewer specialty malts that are used showcase the hops when fresh and showcase how quickly the hops can fade after a few weeks. Conversely, if you have an IPA with a shit ton of Vienna malt it's going to overwhelm the hops pretty quickly (looking at you, my beloved Union Jack.)
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  2. mjryan

    mjryan Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2007 Minnesota

  3. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Defender (616) Nov 6, 2007 California

    Maybe 5-6 weeks if kept cold. No more than 4 if stored warm and that's pushing it. It all depends on what you are looking for. I'm used to drinking IPA right at packaging and like that flavor so I seek it out in packaged IPAs. IPAs with big dry hop aromas have a very short shelf life because the aromatic oils extracted during dry hopping oxidize very readily and are just incredibly unstable. I get that a lot of people think some IPAs are still good three months down the line, but the reality is that they are completely different beers at that point, even if not for the worse in someones eyes.
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  4. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Depends on what you mean by good. An IPA can last for years and still be "good" but that same beer may have not been "good" after six weeks.

    There is no reason you should expect to find a definitive answer on google because a definitive answer does not exist. The answer depends on the individual and really should also depend on the beer. This is really a question you have to answer for yourself.
  5. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (6,457) Nov 16, 2012 Oregon
    Society Trader

  6. Doppelbockulus

    Doppelbockulus Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2012 Florida

    If hops are what you want, you apparently want it fresh. HOWEVER, IPAs were created to preserve beer in harsh conditions for several weeks/months. And there is a historical difference between Pale Ales and India Pale Ales. India Pale Ales were brewed with more hops, but not necessarily and increase in any other characteristic of the beer, meaning that IPAs don't have to have any more alcohol than a regular pale ale. Though there are myths about IPAs, it is a fact that additional quantities of hops were used as a preservative in the beer. This hoppy beer was poured into barrels, loaded onto a ship or caravan, heated and cooled as the sun rose and disappeared, transported across an ocean or continent, and enjoyed later. They were brewed specifically to handle some of the worst aging conditions and be consumed a while after the brewing process had been completed. Think of it like a banana, some people enjoy bananas with some green in the skin while others enjoy them when they are really yellow and starting to develop brown spots on the skin. Each of these bananas can be considered good, but most people who want a very ripe banana would think eating a fresh, green banana is blasphemy, while the slight green banana lovers would argue that a banana is no longer desirable once the green has faded, kind of like hops after they have faded.

    Call me a heathen, but I am a fan of aging IPAs, and have had some pretty good successes after two years. Hops are a natural preservative and their character will fade, or CHANGE, much like a fruit during the ripening process. After a length of time the aromatics that were originally present in the beer will be weak, and the flavor will have undergone a sort of metamorphoses, sometimes exposing more of the sugars in the beer. If you only want hops, chances are you won't be a fan of an aged IPA, but if you enjoy a broad spectrum of beer flavor profiles I strongly urge you to stash a few IPAs, forget about them, and consume them in the future and let go of any bias regarding the style when you have decided to open them. Society has deemed it acceptable to age barleywines and old ales, yet forgotten the origins of the IPA, which was originally designed to be aged. Anyone could argue that a barleywine loses it's fresh hop and bitter grain character over time, or that the raw earth in a stout fades, and if a large quantity of people thought that they wanted malt character that was aggressive and pronounced much like the hop character in an IPA we would argue that stouts and barleywines should also only be consumed fresh. Arrogant Bastard anyone? Fresh malt, earth, hop, in your face, roaring beer! And I'm holding on to one to see how good it might be after aging.

    If you like green bananas and hate a sweet brown spotted yellow one, then don't ever stray from the green banana. And if you like fresh hops, don't age an IPA, otherwise age them like you would any other cellarable beer.

    NOTE: I am not making a correlation between green banana skin enjoyment and fresh hop enjoyment, and thus fully expect plenty of green banana skin and yellow banana skin lovers to enjoy either hop character, strong or weak, independently of their banana skin preference. I also acknowledge the possibility that a beer enthusiast may find any banana to be an abomination regardless of its color, and thus find no pleasure in eating bananas.
  7. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

    In my personal opinion - a few weeks to a few months.
  8. Stockfan42

    Stockfan42 Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2009 Massachusetts

    Personally, I've come to find they all vary. Ive had IPA's that were great when I got them and then other times when I've got them they have been terrible. I've had IPA's that no matter the date have always been good. And I've had IPA's no matter how many times I've tried them have been trash. I guess it really all comes down to personal preference. One IPA you like fresh may actually taste better to you with some age...although I doubt theres a lot of them out there.
  9. Lutter

    Lutter Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2010 Texas

    If you're an IPA over 60 days old... I don't wanna know you, I don't wanna get letters from you, and I don't want to hear about you. You're dead to me. Anything after that you might as well be drinking a weak lightly-hopped barleywine.
    jrnyc likes this.
  10. RockAZ

    RockAZ Disciple (341) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona

    The fresh aroma of the hops fades IMHO after about 90 days or so, depending on the storage environment and of course the recipe of that beer in the first place as others have said upthread. And that fresh taste is what I like in my IPA's, so I will continue to monitor the bottling/kegging dates carefully for insuring that experience.

    For instance, two mentioned above, DogfishHead 90 and 120 are best within 60 days IMHO, but after that in about 2 years they both become something else - something that is an IPA by any definition, but no longer the fragrant hop flower it was. I just don't like either much between >60 and <800 days. And those in Arizona know what I am talking about here, the distribution channel for DFH was whacked for a few years. Burton Baton after as little as 2 years is excellent, I urge everyone curious about this IPA aging question put a few of those hidden away in a dark cool place. I had some from 2005 & 2007 recently and I cannot describe adequately how delicious it was still, my oldest left is from 2010. Right now I have Oscar Blues "Deviant Dales" on long term storage because I suspect it is another worthy IPA of aging despite being canned. And maybe that goes for any IPA you come across that is 6 months old, if you find it that old put it away for another year to see what changes. I do like barleywines very much and have a few stashed back for several years.

    Interesting side note: I bought 3 bottles of Cantillon Saint Lamivus and drank two right away (excellent!), giving the third to my parents wine rack for 5 years. So disappointed when finally opened that it had turned to the nastiest red vinegar imaginable, I don't think I would have even cooked with it. And I had bought into the idea that aging these Gueuzes was supposed to be the sure thing.
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  11. cityofFestivals

    cityofFestivals Initiate (0) Sep 13, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This weekend I just finished off my very last Dig (New Belgium's Spring seasonal) from last year's case and it was every bit as delicious as when it was still in it's freshness window.

    I know this isn't quite the same thing, as the OP specifically asked about IPA's....but conversely, I let some of Avery Ellie's Brown age in the fridge a few months past the BBD and it was absolutely horrid.
  12. westcoastbeerlvr

    westcoastbeerlvr Poo-Bah (3,679) Oct 19, 2010 California
    Society Trader

    Any decent, dry, super-dry-hopped IPA, I'd say 2-4 weeks depending on the beer.
  13. beernut

    beernut Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2008 New Jersey

    The only time to truly enjoy an IPA is the exact moment when they begin to bottle it. After that its all garbage!

    Actually any IPA drank 3-4 months after it was bottled is still good to me. You will get answers from those who say nothing longer than a month and those who say nothing longer than 8 months. Different tastes we all have. But I will say Celebration Ale even a year out is still tasty to me.
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,463) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    How long a IPA will last is dependent on the palate of the drinker but there are a number of considerations mentioned in this thread:

    · How ‘good’ is the brewery’s packaging line at minimizing oxygen ingress into the bottle/can? Oxygen is the enemy of beer freshness but it is an even bigger enemy to hoppy beers, particularly with dry hopped aroma.
    · How was the IPA brewed? Did the brewing process include a lot of dry hopping (in multiple additions)? An example of a beer that is heavily dry hopped (with multiple dry hop additions) is Pliny the Elder? This beer should be consumed very fresh (e.g., no longer than 1.5 months old for example).
    · Was the beer stored cold? Cold storage minimizes hop fade but even under cold storage the hops will eventually fade.

    The hop fade sequence in IPAs if that the aroma hops fade first (particularly dry hopped induced aroma), then the flavor hops, and then with extended time (many months) the bitterness will fade as well.

    The bottom line is that if you enjoy the hoppiness of an American style IPA it is best to consume the beer very fresh (a month old or newer). An IPA that is 2-3 months old is still ‘good’ but not as good if it were fresher.

  15. peteinSD

    peteinSD Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2010 California

    someone else with the search skills can find it on this site but the brewer of Elevated IPA (excellent beer!) posted a very insightful response that addresses this question and it really came down to the way the beer is made and what aspects of the beer the brewers intend to accentuate.

    i think his take (overly simplified by me based on memory) is that aroma heavy IPAs lose their punch quickest while IPAs with a less impressive aroma but higher bitterness in the taste will hold up better for longer.
  16. JohnDMartin

    JohnDMartin Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Kentucky

    I drank a Mikkeller chinook single hop a couple days ago that was from late in 2011 that I think was delicous... Have no idea what it would have tasted like in 2011 but hey i can still enjoy it!
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,463) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Below was posted in a past thread by BA erway of La Cumbre Brewing:

    "Well... I think Sierra Nevada kinda throws that last statement out the window. What they have done is to simply not make much of any beer that relies on enormous hop aroma and focus intensely on QA/QC ensuring their beer tastes pretty damn close 6 months out to what it tasted like the day it was packaged. And that's a route to go if you have millions to spend on equipment and personnel. I love that when I was in Oxford and was sick of drinking buttery, sulfury cask ale, I could go into a bodega, pick up a 9 month old 24 oz. SNPA that was sitting on a warm shelf, and be pretty damn sure it was gonna be the ticket to a pretty flawless American craft beer. I was right.

    And as far as a shelf life here we're not talking 30%. If distributors were told "You have 4 weeks to sell this" they would not pick it up. Simple as that. If you could get them to pick it up, it would not be a 30% markup. Again, look at pricing on Stone's Enjoy By.

    Most breweries, including mine, check packaged air levels and/or Dissolved Oxygen levels and make a good educated guess as to how long the beer will stay "shelf stable". Some of us plate the beer to check for bacteria and wild yeast as well, but if this is an issue, brewery in question has a lot bigger issues than shelf stability. The biggest single tool a small brewery has is the palates of the brewers. We torture our beer (hot cold, repeat. Force aging basically) and if we really don't like what were tasting, we will stop selling the beer. That being said, there is NOTHING any brewery can do about the loss of dry-hop aroma other than keeping the beer cold. Once it is out in the market there is little that can be done to ensure this as well.

    So as an educated consumer, I would be purchasing my beer from places that I know keep the beer cold. I would be checking for packaged on dates or at the very least, best by dates, and yes, I would be trying to get the freshest beer possible.

    That being said, know this, there is no brewery (ok, there's one) that is going to start recalling what it believes to be perfectly good beer after 1 month in the package because it knows that hop aroma has diminished (and if and when they do, they will mark it up to cover such a campaign and they will market the beer as such). We all know hop aroma diminishes. All we can do is encourage everyone to keep it cold, encourage you all to drink it as fresh as possible, and put enough hops into the beer to ensure that it does have a good hop aroma and presence for the entirety of it's brewery determined shelf life.

    What I believe breweries need to pay better attention to, is not just how old the beer in the store is, which is certainly important, but how that beer will age over that shelf life. I'll give my neighbors Marble Brewery a lot of credit for this... With pretty rudimentary equipment, shortly after they started packaging, they were doing such a good job that they were getting beers on the shelves that were shelf stable for 4-6 months in industry standard numbers. (again, talking packaged air here) So, they give their IPA a 3 month shelf life. Well I have had that beer when it is 7 months old, and it was a fine beer. Was it fresh? No. Did the hop aroma pop? No. Did it taste bad? Absolutely not. I have had MANY beers from other breweries that did not do nearly as good a job and after 3 weeks in the package, the beer was buttery cardboard. To me, that's the kind of lack of QA/QC that would get a brewery into serious trouble with the intelligentsia, but alas, many of those beers are the one's so sought after on the beer sites.

    Now, which would you rather have, a 3 month old IPA that was competently packaged, or a 2 week old IPA that was packaged with so much O2 that most brewery texts would say that it has no shelf life? I know which beer I want to drink. Having packaged on or best by dates is all well and good, but the breweries ability to package their product without ruining it is far more important."

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  18. GFG

    GFG Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 North Dakota

    Not sure I fully agree with the idea that all dry hopped beers fall off faster. Surly Furious in the fridge can last a damn long time. I just had a can last night thats been in my fridge for 4 months and it tastes almost identical to a fresh one. I had an Abrasive in there just as long and it tasted pretty damn close to a fresh one as well. I think it has more to do with the chemistry of all the beers ingredients and amount of light its subjected to more than anything else.
  19. Nectar

    Nectar Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2013 New Jersey

    Im glad I don't take IPAs as seriously as some. Otherwise I may never drink one here in NJ....

    No older than 3weeks? Really? .....
  20. raffels

    raffels Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2009 West Virginia

    This might be getting slightly off topic, but doe's SN use the bottling system you're alluding to?
  21. PatriotsRule

    PatriotsRule Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2012 Massachusetts

    An IPA is only good until it's been polished off. Or until the hops lull the consumer to sleep. Very difficult, other than in dreams, to enjoy most IPAs whilst sleeping. Had some great 60min dreams last night...
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,463) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Sierra Nevada uses a bottling date usng the Julian date code.

    I presume that was the question you were asking.


    P.S. Sierra Nevada: Uses a bottling date. Bottles: Example: 106311448; 1=2011; 063=day of year, or Mar 4; 1=bottling line 1; 1448= 2:48pm. Cases: Example: 02/26/09 1 17:50. 02/26/09 = Date Packaged.
  23. raffels

    raffels Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2009 West Virginia

    Maybe I was a little vague, what I referring to is do the they use the same type/system of bottling line that Victory does?
  24. Giantspace

    Giantspace Savant (953) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I bought some Stone enjoy by 2 2013 tonight. It was bad as it poured. I had to put my mouth over the tap to get it fresh..

    It depends on the IPA. I have had Founders Centennial 6 mo old and it was still pretty good. 90 Minute and Burton Baton still sit in my cellar over three years old. They age very nice. some IPA does not do well with age, Sculpin. Really depends on the beer. Maybe its the hop type. Last years Sucks was amazing but was very different after 6 weeks and two month it really lost it. Still drinkable but not at its peak.

  25. terrapinmark

    terrapinmark Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2010 Ohio

  26. pecsokak

    pecsokak Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2012 Virginia

    if it was bottled before you started reading this thread then its already old
  27. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Disciple (381) Nov 21, 2008 Texas

    Many people feel that IPAs are best when their hops flavors are "bright". Its pretty simple form a perceptual standpoint. They fade over time. It's not like they are good on day 21 and bad on day 22. Nor does it matter much whether it fades along a curve or as a simple linear function. If you like bright hop flavors, and a particular IPA highly characterized by bright hop flavors, you'll want to drink it a soon as possible.
  28. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Based on past experience, I give most breweries 2 months from bottling date for an enjoyable experience for pale ales and ipa's.
  29. slim2043

    slim2043 Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2012 Connecticut

    You're my hero. If I buy enough to last til next year it may last until Summer. I just cleaned out the grocery store as the bottle shop has moved on from Celebration. I may try this though.
  30. fredmugs

    fredmugs Initiate (0) Aug 11, 2012 Indiana

    Some time back I posted that I found a Dreadnaught in a cardboard box in my kitchen that had been there at least 6 months. I bought another one and did a taste test. The older one tasted better and had a better aroma. I doubt 3F is slipping.
  31. Hopportunistic

    Hopportunistic Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2013 North Carolina

    Any beer I buy is gone within a week, so the point is pretty much moot for me. Unlike some wines, most people don't buy beers to age them, although their flavor profiles can shift over time and perhaps somebody might enjoy something that has "mellowed" or whatever over time. I've found that in general, freshest is best.
  32. tdmccarthy

    tdmccarthy Initiate (0) May 6, 2010 Illinois

    Last year (2011) I took some Celebrations to my brother in laws place for Christmas. I left a couple which were still there this Christmas. I had taken a new 6 pack this year as well. I drank the 2011 and the 2012 side by side. I certainly preferred the 2012, but the 2011 hadn't fallen off considerably. It still tasted pretty good to me.

    That certainly won't be the case with a lot of IPAs, as others here have discussed quite a bit. The biggest drop I've noticed in an IPA was with Schlafly's Tasmanian IPA. When it was only a couple weeks old it about blew me away with the big, fresh citrus and pineapple tastes. When I tried it again when it was about 45 days old the hops had completely fallen of.
  33. klinger

    klinger Initiate (106) Oct 9, 2012 Ohio

    I will absolutely agree with this (in parenthesis). Last week I drank a Union Jack bottled May 2012 (?) that I had forgotten about. Not what I was expecting. Not bad, but not great.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,463) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Victory has a state of the art, German built bottling line. I have no idea who the vendor was for the Sierra Nevada bottling line but with Sierra Nevada’s commitment to QA/QC I am sure that they have an excellent bottling line with minimal oxygen ingress during bottling.

    I think what ‘helps’ Sierra Nevada beers being more resilient to staling is what BA erway stated: “I think Sierra Nevada kinda throws that last statement out the window. What they have done is to simply not make much of any beer that relies on enormous hop aroma ..”

  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,898) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I think the SN lines were from Krones.
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,463) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    If that is true then Sierra Nevada and Victory both have Krones bottling lines:

    “AC What is going on with the expansion at your brewery (Victory) itself?

    BC We're undergoing an expansion here to allow us to package beer a little more economically and in more diverse packaging. In five years - we have just completed 10,000 barrels of production this year - we certainly anticipate 20,000 barrels of production and probably up to 25,000 barrels. We think in terms of liquid because as brewers we have to install the equipment in order to facilitate that. So we have to think strategically in order to produce for that certain time. We doubled our space here in November by adding another 23,000 square feet. We had a real lucky stroke back in July because we had spent the majority of last year deciding how were going to grow with tenants in this facility all around us. And then one of them went out of business in July. It was exactly next door to us and the perfect sort of space for what we needed to do. So right now we're installing tile floor, and Ron is heading to Germany next week to see our Krones (bottling) line being built. All of this equipment will be rolling in in May.”

  37. mfnmbvp

    mfnmbvp Poo-Bah (2,429) Nov 28, 2012 Illinois

    Friend of mine bought a 6 pack of Southern Tier IPA last weekend. I thought it tasted slightly on the old side, but I still thought it was a good beer. The next day I found the bottled on date: June 16, 2011. Pretty sure it was kept cold for the majority of that time, but I'm still pissed and wanna try a fresh bottle now.
  38. Siggy125

    Siggy125 Disciple (354) Nov 10, 2006 California

    While there is some subjectivity here, I cannot agree with the majority of your statement. Bread spoils and molds and becomes inedible. Few good ales go "bad" with age. True, beers should be drank fresh to realize the brewer's intentions of his/her work. But flavor profiles change with age and become a different experience. Whether the evolving flavors are "best" for you or not, is purely your decision. Case in point and to the OP's question, I drank a 2006 Celebration this weekend. It was different than it was 6 years ago, but it tasted fantastic. If you don't believe me, I'll send you one to make my point.
    Hanzo and Hopportunistic like this.
  39. Stinger80OH

    Stinger80OH Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2011 Ohio

    Starts going downhill immediately upon bottling.
  40. TheJollyHop

    TheJollyHop Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 California

    Where is the facepalm icon when you need one?

    Someone help me out!
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