Here’s why you must drink craft beer fast by “best by” date

on 24/06/14 at 9:54 am


indexThose bottles of delicious hoppy IPAs you’ve got sitting in your fridge? They are slowly dying, and if you’ve got a bottle or two sitting on the counter or in a closet, those are quickly dying too. It’s an often overlooked or misunderstood aspect of craft beer, but the compounds that give IPAs and other hoppy brews their pungent aromas so sought by beer lovers are extremely volatile and begin degrading nearly immediately after a beer is packaged.

The ravages of time and the importance of storage conditions were demonstrated for me on a recent trip to the Firestone Walker brewery on California’s Central Coast. For the past two years, the brewery has hosted a group of writers, journalists and beer bloggers from Los Angeles for a weekend of beer education and exploration, and this year’s trip included a sensory training session held by the brewery’s QC staff. We started with an off flavor tasting, and few things sharpen the palate like spiked beers at 10am. After smelling, tasting and discussing diacetyl, DMS, and oxidation flavors, the group moved on to a second flight—and this is particularly revelatory.