How to Store Beer: The Ultimate Guide

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Ruined beer is a crying shame. After hunting for that prized IPA or finally casking your homebrew, nothing stings worse than cracking open a skunked bottle. Light exposure poses the number one threat to your beautiful beers, wrecking delicate hop aromas and flavours.

This guide will illuminate proper beer storage methods to champion taste for months. Learn how fridge temps, bottle colour, and total darkness interplay to prevent the dreaded lightstruck reaction. From garages to growlers, we lay out ideal conditions for protecting beloved lagers and lockdown ales alike. 

Table of Contents

The Effect of Light on Beer

Light, especially ultraviolet (UV) rays, can wreak havoc on your carefully cellared beers. Exposure to light causes the hop compounds in beer to undergo a chemical change, resulting in what’s known as “lightstruck” or “skunked” beer. This photochemical reaction gives the brew unpleasant metallic and skunk-like flavours that overpower the intended tasting notes.

Both direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting emit UV rays that can penetrate clear and green glass bottles. Over time, these rays interact with the beer’s sensitive hop oils, transforming them into lightstruck compounds that give off harsh tastes. Even short 10-minute exposures can impart skunkiness.

Protect your beers from light damage by storing in locations safe from UV exposure. Use amber or other dark glass bottles that block rays, or keep canned and bottled brews in closed boxes, cabinets, or the back of the fridge. Light wrecks beer quality, so keep your prized ales and lagers safely tucked away, whether short-term or cellaring for months. It’s the only way to prevent lightstruck flavours from ruining all that scrumptious hoppiness.

Storage Locations

The Refrigerator

Keeping beer in the fridge checks all the boxes—cool, dark, and sealed away from oxygen. Dedicate a shelf towards the back where the temperature hovers just above freezing. While the cold helps stability, freezing ruins beer’s flavours. The fridge works for any style from lagers to IPAs. The only downside is limited space.

Beer Cellar Conversions

Converting a basement, cellar or garage into a designated beer storage room takes things up a notch. Add insulation, climate control systems, and blackout paint/curtains to create the ultimate ageing environment. The investment lets you store entire kegs and cases under optimal restrained conditions. It’s like having your pub downstairs!

Closets & Cupboards

For smaller stocks, cupboards and closets work surprisingly well. The darkness helps prevent light exposure and damaging temperature fluxes. Just avoid storing beer anywhere with direct heat sources like hot water tanks or laundry appliances. And remember to litter empty spaces with towels to insulate any cold leaks. It keeps the wives happy too!

Related: Expired Beer: Effects, Safety, and Myths Uncovered

Should I Store Beer At Room Temperature?

Storing beer at room temperature offers convenience but carries risks. Certain styles and packaging may allow brief room-temperature storage, while others demand consistent refrigeration.

How Beer Style Affects Storage

Robust beers like stouts and barleywines often tolerate short room temperature exposure better thanks to higher beer alcohol and maltiness. More delicate lagers and pilsners lack compounds to hide flaws from warmth. Skunking from light exposure also remains a concern for all brews.

Best Temperature for Different Beer Types

Aim to keep ales and lagers between 10-13°C (50-55°F) for optimum flavour. This refrigerator-like coolness allows complex tastes to shine while preventing off-flavours.

A dedicated beer fridge set to 12°C for most beers creates ideal conditions. Consistent cool storage helps maintain carbonation and prevent flavour degradation. While brief room temperature exposure won’t ruin beer, prolonged heat above 18°C accelerates staling.

Freezing beers almost always causes irreparable damage. As beer freezes and thaws, ice crystals rupture cell walls, oxidation increases, and carbonation is lost. The end result is a flat, one-dimensional brew lacking aroma and intended taste.

In short, cool beer like a cellar. Refrigerator-like storage between 10-13°C strikes the perfect balance to keep beers tasting their refreshing best. Mini fridges help the average beer buff unlock a brew’s full bouquet.

Storing Macros

Popular mass-produced beers like Budweiser and Coors must be kept cold to maintain their crisp, clean taste. Store them between 3-7°C (37-45°F). Colder prevents bad flavours but avoid freezing. Fridges work better than cellars for macros.

Wheat Beers & Pilsners

Wheat beers and pilsners have mild hops and fruit tastes from lower alcohol. Overly cold dulls these flavours. Keep them between 6-8°C (43-46°F) to keep the light, refreshing taste. Fridges are good but avoid the coldest sections.

IPAs & Lagers

IPAs have lots of hops and lagers are clean and crisp. Cool storage between 7-10°C (45-50°F) keeps hop and aroma flavours fresh and prevents bad diacetyl tastes. Fridges help humidity to avoid dryness.

Porters & Stouts

Porters and stouts are robust and roasty. Around 10-13°C (50-55°F) lets malt and flavour shine while preventing booze taste. Fridges mute strong tastes so a dedicated 12°C beer fridge works best.

Sours & Bocks

The unique funky sours and malty bocks need specific storage. 10-15°C (50-59°F) keeps sour complexity but prevents a hot solvent-y alcohol taste. Dedicated beer fridges help get the temperatures right.

Barleywines & Strong Ales

High alcohol barleywines and strong ales should be kept cool to smooth the alcohol bite but not too cold. 12-14°C (54-57°F) balances rich maltiness and tames too much booze taste. Dedicated beer fridges unlock these flavours.

Stouts and Porters

The robust roasted coffee and chocolate flavours of stouts and porters shine around 12-14°C. Letting them warm slightly from the fridge temperature brings out more richness.

Wheat Beers and Pilsners

Crisp and refreshing wheat beers and pilsners are best-enjoyed ice cold, straight from the fridge at 6-8°C. Any warmer and you risk losing those delicate fruity aromas.

Tweak these ballpark figures up or down a degree or two depending on your personal taste preferences. But keeping beers chilled to style-specific serving temperatures unlocks more nuanced flavours.

How to Store Beer Cans

Storing beer in cans has advantages over bottles when it comes to protecting the brew. The aluminium blocks all light exposure, eliminating the risk of skunking that clear and green glass bottles carry. Cans also provide an airtight seal that prevents oxygen from altering the taste over time.

When storing beer cans, it’s best to keep them upright rather than stacking them horizontally. This prevents the beer from having extended contact with the lid, minimizing any metallic flavours that could transfer from the aluminium. Keep your canned brews in a cool, dark place around 10-13°C for optimal freshness. A refrigerator is ideal, but any darker corner of the house works as well. Just don’t let them sit in direct sunlight or anywhere hot like a garage or shed.

How to Store Beer Bottles

With beer bottles, light exposure poses a major enemy in preserving taste. Green and clear glass bottles in particular run a high risk of skunking when the hop oils in beer interact with ultraviolet light. That’s why darker brown bottles help block light and are preferred by many brewers.

Carefully storing bottles upright is also key, as it reduces the chance of oxidation and contamination from liquids pooling near the bottle cap over time. Keep your bottled beers out of the light—either in closed boxes or the back of the fridge is best. An optimal storage temperature is again around 10-13°C to balance flavour preservation while preventing chill haze.

How to Store Beer Growlers

The key thing with growlers is they don’t preserve beer as long as properly sealed cans and bottles due to their screw cap lid and occasional glass construction. Once opened, oxygen and carbonation escape rapidly and accelerate staling. For best results, refrigerate growlers immediately after purchasing and consume the beer within 2-4 days.

Until you’re ready to drink the beer, keep growlers capped tight and stored in colder and darker places to buy you more time. But no matter what, try to finish the beer within a week as flavours and aromas diminish swiftly after exposure to air. The growler’s charm comes from pub-to-home transportability, not long-term ageing potential.

How to Store Beer Kegs

Maintaining ideal pressure and temperature is vital when storing beer kegs. Keep kegs refrigerated below 10°C to prevent spoilage and preserve the brew’s flavours. Higher temperatures risk creating off-tastes. 

It’s also essential to maintain the proper carbon dioxide pressure in the keg around 10-15 PSI. This keeps the keg sealed while allowing just enough pressure to push the beer through the tap without over-carbonating. Invest in a quality CO2 canister setup with the regulator to balance these factors. This gives you the freshest draft-like pours.

How to Store Corked Beer

Certain beers like Belgian ales, saisons, and some stouts still use traditional cork stoppers. When cellaring these brews for ageing, storing them on their side helps keep the cork moist and expanded. This prevents the cork from drying out and shrinking, which risks oxygen sneaking in and ruining the maturation process.

For ageing quality corked beers optimally, store them around 12–14°C with about 70% humidity to resemble a wine cellar. While fluctuations happen, keeping conditions generally cool, dark, and humid allows more complex flavours to develop over months or years.

Wrap Up

In short, light wrecks beer. Both sunlight and indoor lighting with UV rays interact with hop compounds, creating unpleasant “skunky” metals and off-tastes. Store all beers safely away from light – fridges, cellars, or dark cupboards work. Amber/brown bottles help too. Follow optimal storage and your IPAs, lagers and ales retain delightful bouquets and complex flavours much longer. Perfect storage means perfect drinking. Don’t risk skunked beers – keep them out of the light!

How to Store Beer: FAQs

Should beer be kept in the fridge?

Yes, the fridge is ideal for storing most beers properly between 10-13°C to balance flavor preservation while preventing defects from warm temperatures. The cold, dark fridge checks all the boxes to maintain beer freshness.

How long is beer good for not refrigerated?

Brief room temp storage may work for some robust styles, but prolonged heat above 18°C accelerates staling. For delicate lagers and pilsners, consistent refrigeration is a must. While exact times vary, storing any beer at room temp more than a few days risks ruining aroma and intended taste.

What are the rules for storing beer?

Key rules: keep all beers out of direct light in cool, dark places around 10-13°C; store bottles upright to prevent oxidation and contamination; maintain CO2 pressure in kegs around 10-15 PSI; and consume growlers within 2-4 days since seals aren’t as tight. Follow these and your beer stays tasty.

Is it OK to store beer bottles on their side?

For beers with corks, like Belgian strong ales, yes – storing bottles sideways keeps the cork moist and expanded to prevent oxygen exposure. But for typical capped beers, it’s best to store bottles upright to avoid liquids pooling near the cap opening and accelerating oxidation over time.

By Tickety Brew

Ivor Ardghal : Brewer and Writer at Tickety Brew