Beer. The more you drink, the better it tastes. Sounds about right? Well, that is, until you have drunk…too much.
But, we like to think that our readers all drink responsibly, and are far more concerned with the various flavors that beer offers, rather than how drunk it can make you.
For around six thousand years, beer has been popular in society. Over the centuries, there have been different tasting beers, from crisp and clean to sour, tart, and funky beverages.
If you were to describe the taste of beer to someone who has never tasted it, you may find yourself a little flummoxed. The taste spectrum is varied, but there are certain factors that affect the flavor of all beers.
If you have ever tasted a fresh beer in the bar, only to try the same beer from a store, it may have tasted completely different.
Well, this could be because of how long the beer had been on the store’s shelf. If they have been on display for days or weeks, they are unlikely to be fresh anymore.
Therefore, the quality of the beer will not be as good as its fresh counterparts.
This is just one factor that can affect the flavor of beer. If you want to find out more factors that influence the taste of your favorite beer, read on.
You can then keep these in mind the next time you’re picking up a well-earned case at the end of the week.
Types Of Beer
We could make a book about the different types of beer in the world but we will split them into two categories for today’s post:
Craft beer refers to beer that is produced by a small brewery, rather than made for mass production. However, craft breweries only make up less than 3% of the annual sales of beer in the US.
As for the taste of craft beer, it tends to be fuller as breweries put more emphasis on certain aromas for their batches. Most are served slightly chilled or at room temperature, in order to get the full flavors from the beer.
Ale and lager beer cover the full spectrum. In other words, every beer is either lager or ale. But, it’s the production process that distinguishes one from the other.
When brewing ale, the yeast is fermented at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas lager is fermented at only 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because both contain different types of yeast.
This means that fermentation takes longer for lager (six to eight weeks), compared to ale, which is three to five weeks.
Both kinds of beer are available with all sorts of flavors and aromas. But, the key difference between the two is that lager tends to have a clearer, crisper flavor, whereas ale is fuller and has a sweeter aroma.
Whatever beer it is, though, certain factors can affect their flavors. Let’s take a look at the three main factors below.
What Affects A Beer’s Flavor?
Temperature In Storage
Beer should never be stored in a hot area. Heat can significantly affect the beer’s flavor, whether it is canned or bottled.
You should store beer in an ice storage container if heading outdoors for more than a few hours. This will help retain the flavors. Also, changes in temperature can affect the taste.
If beer goes from a cold environment to a warm one, and vice versa, it may end up tasting differently. More often than not, if you leave beer sitting in a cold space, it will taste better than those stored in hotter areas.
The Shelf Life
Full-flavored IPAs (India Pale Ale – made with additional hops) and craft beers typically taste best when consumed soon after brewing.
There are some exceptions, of course, such as black or aged Belgian beers. Most of the time, though, freshly made beers taste even better than those that have been sitting on shelves for days or weeks.
However, it is impractical, and very difficult, to brew, bottle, and sell beer within one month. As a result, the beer’s quality will last for around three months after the manufacturing date, before eventually deteriorating in taste.
The Expiration Date
Many breweries are unable to establish an adequate best before date because it is primarily a bit of a gamble.
The “expiration date” normally occurs a year after brewing, but it is unlikely that you would become ill if you consume a bottle that is past its best by date.
However, after this amount of time, it is highly likely that the beer will no longer taste as delicious.
To maintain beverage standards, regulatory organizations require breweries to include an expiration date on the beer’s label, whether it be in a can or a bottle.
As a result, it’s advisable to check this date, especially if you’re purchasing Pale Ale or crafted beers. By checking the date, you can get a better sense of their flavor.
To be safe, choose beers with a best by date that is months or a year away.
TOP TIP: Check the brewery’s reputation. Try and go on a brewery tour to see how their beer is brewed and how they date their beverages.
This way, you can also find out more about their storage facilities to see if it’s cold enough to maintain a beer’s fresh taste. A tour can help you understand if they are a reputable brewery or not.
The main factors that affect a beer’s flavor are:
- Storage temperature
- Its shelf life
- Its expiration date
By storing beer properly, it should maintain its proper, intended flavor for longer. But, leave a beer too long on the shelf, and it will not taste as good as something that is fresh.
Just always check the best by date to ensure your beer is not too old and hasn’t lost its delicious flavor.
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