The freshness craze

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MilkLeg, Aug 16, 2017.

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  1. MilkLeg

    MilkLeg (0) Feb 8, 2016 Canada (AB)

    So we all know how important it is to drink our IPAs fresh. In a matter of weeks even the best will lose some of their original character, and while ideally they should still remain very drinkable we still can't help but think about what they once were in the recent past. So here's my question; is this all entirely to do with the frailty and magic of hops and their preservative qualities, or does part of this obsession with freshness stem from the fact that IPAs are the most sought after style amongst craft drinkers, thus leading to them being scrutinized on a level higher than any other style? Shouldn't the whole "fresher is better" mentality hold up for at least some of the other styles, perhaps not just those than rely on primarily on hops?

    For example, I was at a brewery today and ordered their stout, which I had tried before, but there was something about it this time that stood out. It was probably because I was drinking it a few feet away from where it was brewed and kegged. So my question is whether freshness can make a difference in a brew that relies more heavily on malt ingredients instead of the greener counterpart, and why there isn't much discussion about fresh beer unless it's an IPA.
     
  2. Burt

    Burt (0) Nov 27, 2005 Rhode Island

    The freshness "craze" has been around for a long time. Most beers are better fresh and ingredients do play a major roll. Hop forward brews are at the top of that list because hop aromas then flavors break down first. That's why there are a lot of complaints about IPA's tasting off when they have aged. Look up fresh Pliny the Elder for the "craze".

    Now take a higher abv % brew like a BCBS or a RIS and age it for a couple of years most brews are better because of it is not a hop forward brew.
     
  3. dennis3951

    dennis3951 (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    With very few exceptions (barleywines ect.) all beers are better fresh. Take a tour of a BMC plant. Even a beer like Bud Light tastes better brewery fresh.
     
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  4. Squire

    Squire (0) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Fresh is my rule for all beers irrespective of style. An exception of course are ones specifically intended for aging but I don't buy those because at my age I'm not willing to wait on anything.
     
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  5. Iamjeff6

    Iamjeff6 (0) Sep 9, 2013 Virginia

    Freshness has gotten so bad for me that I cant even drink IPA's anymore. I crave something so fresh that I actually just end up chewing on hops straight off the vine.
     
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  6. HeilanCoo

    HeilanCoo (0) Sep 11, 2014 North Carolina
    Deactivated

    Two-part question, so
    1. yes
    2. all beers are apparently IPAs
     
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  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    “So here's my question; is this all entirely to do with the frailty and magic of hops…” A big YES to that question. More explicitly it is due to the fact that hop aroma can fade very quickly in beers like IPAs.

    “Shouldn't the whole "fresher is better" mentality hold up for at least some of the other styles, perhaps not just those than rely on primarily on hops?” Most beer styles are best consumed quickly. For example ABI recommends that Budweiser be consumed within 110 days of bottling/canning. It is just that non-hoppy beers do not tend to ‘fall of the cliff’ from an aroma/flavor perspective like the IPA style does.

    “So my question is whether freshness can make a difference in a brew that relies more heavily on malt ingredients instead of the greener counterpart, and why there isn't much discussion about fresh beer unless it's an IPA.” Darker beer styles like Stouts/Porters tend to hold up better over time since dark malts (e.g., Black Malt, Chocolate Malt,…) have anti-oxidant qualities (beer staling is principally an oxidative chemical reaction). I personally prefer to drink my Stouts and Porters with a bit of bottle age vs. factory fresh.

    Cheers!
     
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  8. RobH

    RobH (0) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    Dude, I can't even wait that long anymore. I've recently taken to putting some hop plant rhizomes between my cheek and gums. There's a bit of terroir-like grittiness to it if you don't rinse them (I don't: that might wash away some flavor), but you really can't get any more local or fresh. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
     
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  9. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt (0) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire
    Deactivated

    There are few beers that aren't better fresh. The collectors (hoarders) with all the beer in their cellars (Rot box cabinets and closets) may tell you different but they are wrong.
     
  10. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB (0) Jul 27, 2013 Texas
    Society Trader

    Generally everything is better fresh (unless specifically intended to be aged).

    It's one of the reasons I started home brewing 10+ years ago.
     
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Rob, the next time I see you there will be a hop plant growing out of your mouth?:astonished:

    Will they be wet hops?:wink:

    Cheers!
     
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  12. riegler

    riegler (0) Apr 30, 2015 Iowa

    I would agree almost all beer is better fresh. I do however recall Deschutes Abyss having a "best after date" printed on it. So I suppose some beers are meant to be aged.
     
  13. MNAle

    MNAle (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    It is incorrect to say "all beer is better fresh".

    It IS correct to say "all beer tastes different with time."

    Just because the beer tastes different fresh out of the tank v. 2 weeks later v. 2 months later v. 2 years later does not mean that fresh is always better for all beers.

    Even some IPAs will be "better" with a week or so v. fresh out of the tank.
     
  14. DrBourbon

    DrBourbon (0) Aug 15, 2017 Kentucky

    I agree with MNAle. Beer oxidation is something we have all battled over time and changes are inevitable. All changes are not necessarily degradations to the beer, including some oxidations. The level of oxidation is always key. Always remember "better" is in the eyes (and tastebuds!) of the observer.
     
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  15. bubseymour

    bubseymour (1,264) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    It's not just fresh hops. I seem to be able to taste fresh grains as well (and its better that way).

    Most cellerable beers I still prefer fresh vs. aged (when I've had opportunities to do side by sides/verticals). Some exceptions.

    When in doubt, drink fresh.
     
  16. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp (0) Sep 14, 2011 Missouri

    There is nary a beer that is not at its peak on day 1. Each day thereafter is a slide down with the steepest slope on the front end. That's not to say that beer becomes bad or undrinkable days, weeks or even months later. But certainly not at its peak.
     
  17. moreandfaster1987

    moreandfaster1987 (0) Aug 14, 2017 Pennsylvania

    well stone had that best after series of beer but for me I like ipas and I'm not going to spend hard earned money on something that is sub par.
     
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I personally disagree with that statement; some beer styles improve with time. Some examples are Barleywines, Quads, Imperial Stouts. The aging process creates additional flavors which result in a more complex overall flavor profile.

    I suspect that somebody will post about the subjective nature of beer appreciation but I will personally disagree that a simpler tasting Barleywine is 'better' than a mature Barleywine with a complex flavor profile.

    Cheers!
     
  19. MNAle

    MNAle (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    Me, too.
     
  20. LavaLite

    LavaLite (0) Dec 3, 2016 Illinois

    I only drink IPAs if they let me climb in the tank. Running it through a hose and bottling it adds too much age for me.
     
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  21. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp (0) Sep 14, 2011 Missouri

    You're talking about quite a small sample size that improves with age. Also, it's questionable whether the beers have improved or simply changed. The styles you mentioned certainly withstand changes more heartily than their more delicate cousins. Some even take on more "complexity" or "mellow out". Timing these changes and controlling them is certainly a crapshoot. My point was that for the most part, nearly every beer is best consumed fresh as possible, but a little age doesn't ruin them, and for a select few may welcome some changes.
     
  22. MNAle

    MNAle (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    Well, "nearly every beer..." is different from "There is nary a beer...". Perhaps your first post had a bit of hyperbole in it? It's not like THAT is foreign to some of MY posts! :slight_smile:

    With full recognition of the variable of personal tastes, ...

    As I stated above, there are even some IPAs that improve with a week or 2 v. hours old out of the tank. You'll even find such sentiments expressed by the brewers themselves for some IPAs. While hardly considered "aging" a week or 2 is not "fresh as possible."

    Your set of "...a select few..." isn't as select or a few as you seem to imply, whether you are talking about beers or BAs who enjoy cellaring.

    My experience is if you know what you are doing in terms of beer selection and cellaring conditions, it is not nearly the "crapshoot" you seem to believe it is. Of course, I have been known to "try it and see what happens" with some beers, so, sure, that is a bit of a crapshoot.
     
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  23. RobH

    RobH (0) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    Let us not forget: Brett and Lacto (and other "bugs") beers require time in the bottle -- and at warm temperatures -- to fully develop to what the brewer intends for them to be. Easy example: Stone Enjoy After.
     
  24. drtth

    drtth (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Quite true, I have some bottles of gueuze in the basement that show a "best by" date that is sometimes as much as 20 years after bottling.
     
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  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Rob, another example is Goose Island Sofie.

    A couple of years ago I bought two 4-packs (at my 'local' Total Wine & More - Claymont, DE) for the purposes of aging to develop Brett character. I tried the first bottle at around 6 months after the bottling date and there was indeed some Brett character. I then tried 9 months and 12 months and the beer was quite funky then! I still have a couple bottle left which are now 1.5 years old (the bottling date is 2/8/16). I will let these two bottles go to 2 years of age to see how they are then.

    I also have a 6-pack of Victory Sour Monkey that I bought this past winter; I will drink these beers over the next couple of years.

    Cheers!
     
  26. crag

    crag (0) Jun 4, 2012 Pennsylvania

    IPAs rely on hop oils as a major component of the beer's organoleptic qualities. Heat, O2 & UV all collaborate together in attacking a beers flavor profiles. Any beer that relies so heavily on an easily oxidizable compound for flavor etc. it is easy to understand why drinking fresh or soon after packaging has its merit if you're wanting to capture the nuances of the beer's recipe.
     
  27. nc41

    nc41 (0) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Im not convinced any beer outside of Stouts or Porters get better with age. I think some Dipas due to the hop combos are affected less, but I've never seen an improvement over fresh. I can't remember a beer I thought was too green. Could be my palate isnt sensitive enough to tell. I left out any other kind of beers because I don't like funk or sour.
     
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  28. MNAle

    MNAle (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    Barleywines? Wee Heavies?

    Bell's Mars (DIPA) is really, really good now with nearly 5 months on it; better than fresh, IMO. I'm keeping what I have left a bit longer to see what transpires (this falls in the "crapshoot" category @CellarGimp mentioned, though...)
     
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  29. nc41

    nc41 (0) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I haven't had either of those in years to be honest. There was some
    Backwoods floating on the shelf but it's not really a style I seek out. I have a friend who likes Hopslam with a year on it, I don't but he does and it's fine. I'm only speaking on the styles I personally drink, I like them as fresh as I can find them. I age my stouts, but I like them fresh too, actually I age them more out of rarity than they're better with age. I like Kbs hot and fresh.
     
  30. TongoRad

    TongoRad (1,191) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    @drtth and I have also been aging Sofie, and exchanging notes. I find the the real 'magic' happens at 3 years, so it might be worth a bit more patience on your end.
     
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  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Michael, I will let you know.

    Frankly this beer at 1+ years of age has become less enjoyable for me. So far I would say the peak was between 9 - 12 months.

    I suppose it would be appropriate to insert the caveat to the BA community of YMMV.

    Cheers!
     
  32. TongoRad

    TongoRad (1,191) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Okay, but keep in mind that it doesn't get even funkier. That quality starts to turn floral around 3 years, and that's what I meant by the 'magic'.
     
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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa (964) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Fair enough.

    I will wait until 3 years since frankly at this point in time I really have no desire to drink these beers.

    I shall await the aforementioned magic.

    Cheers!
     
  34. flaskman

    flaskman (0) Aug 3, 2015 New York

    Fresh is best for me but I am not too anal about it. They may taste different as they get a little long in the teeth but they still taste good to me. I just love the taste of beer.
     
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  35. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    This is a fallacy. Fermentations that include these microbes are finished when they are bottled. Oxidation and ester hydrolysis are the only things that happen after they are packaged.
     
  36. sportscrazed2

    sportscrazed2 (0) Mar 29, 2010 American Samoa
    Trader

    Everything is better fresh. How much so is a matter of opinion
     
  37. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    It depends on if said beer is filtered (or centrifuged) and force carbonated or if it is bottled conditioned. Even then, some filtered/centrifuged beer presents a better, more incorporated, flavor profile after it is in the package for a couple weeks. Not every beer has the shelf-instability of NEIPAs.

    Agreed.
     
  38. RobH

    RobH (0) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    So, you are saying that Brett beers are finished when they are bottled? You are saying that the brewers have kept these beers in their tanks until the brett has fully done its "funky" work on the beer? Therefore, Stone putting out an Enjoy After beer was just a marketing schtick; that beer was fully bretted out and funkified upon bottling?
     
  39. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    No, not a marketing schtick. This may seem like splitting hairs, but all the phenols (brett character or "funk") and esters that will ever be created are already in the bottle at the time of packaging. Esters break down (or hydrolyze) MUCH faster than do phenols, so over time you will get a beer that is less ester dominant (less fruit forward), less hop forward, and more phenol or "funk" dominant. Make sense?
     
  40. drtth

    drtth (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    That depends on whether or not they are bottle conditioned.

    Also notice that he said "develop in the bottle" not "ferment in the bottle."
     
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