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Proper beer storage is important in preserving the best flavor possible in the beers that you may enjoy. Below we have outlined tips on draft beer storage (Kegerators), serving draft beer, as well as some information on bottle and can beer storage as well.
Types of Beer
The word lager is derived from the German verb lagern, which means: to store. During the late middle ages, before the days of refrigeration, fermentation was a hit-or-miss affair, especially during the hot summer months. To ensure a supply of beer for the summer, brewers in the Bavarian Alps stored kegs of spring brew in icy mountain caves. As the beer slowly aged, the yeast settled, creating a drink that was dark but clear and sparkling with a crisper, more delicate flavour. In 1842, lager acquired its familiar golden color when a brewery in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia perfected a pale, bottom-fermented version of the beer. Lagers typically take more time to brew and are aged longer than ales.
The other bottom-fermented beer is bock, named for the famous medieval German brewing town of Einbeck. Heavier than lager and darkened by high-coloured malts, bock is traditionally brewed in the winter for drinking during the spring.
Although the term covers a fascinating variety of styles, all ales share certain characteristics. Top-fermentation and the inclusion of more hops in the word gives these beers a distinctive fruitiness, acidity and a pleasantly-bitter seasoning. All ales typically take less time to brew and age then lagers and have a more assertive, individual personality, though their alcoholic strength may be the same. This category of beer uses yeast that ferments at the "top" of the fermentation vessel, and typically at higher temperatures than lager yeast (60°-75°F), which, as a result, makes for a quicker fermentation period (7-8 days, or even less). Ale yeast are known to produce by-products called esters, which are flowery and fruity aromas ranging, but not limited to apple, pear, pineapple, grass, hay, plum, and prune.
Porter and Stout
Whether dry or sweet, flavored with roasted malt barley, oats or certain sugars, stouts and porters are characterized by darkness and depth. Both types of beer are delicious with hearty meat stews and surprisingly good with shellfish. The pairing of oysters and stout has long been acknowledged as one of the world's great gastronomic marriages.
When pouring a bottle, there are two ways to go: either dump the beer down the center of the glass, blowing out excess carbonation (making it taste more draft-like) and releasing its aroma; or "sneak" it down the side of the glass, preventing over-foaming and preserving the bottle's extra fizz.
The most important element of serving a beer, however, is temperature. Ales should be served at a cool 55 degrees F -what the English call "cellar temperature" - and lagers should be served around 48 degrees F. The logic here is simple: the colder the temperature, the less you taste (this holds true for all foods, not just beer). The more flavor a beer has, therefore, the better it will taste at warmer temperatures. Cleaner, lighter ales (such as cream ales) can work well closer to lager temperatures. Darker, stronger lagers (bocks, doppelbocks) can benefit from approaching "ale" temperatures. But only the richest ales (stouts, strong ales, barley wines) should be served near room temperature.
Draft Beer Storage
Having a keg can be great for entertaining friends and relatives, but only if maintained properly. We have answered some frequently asked questions about draft beer below.
How long can I keep draft beer?
Draft beer is not pasteurized, so it must be kept cold, preferably at 38°F. Temperatures above 45°F may cause the beer to become wild, turn sour and cloudy. Draft beer should be consumed within30 days, as it is not pasteurized and loses its original brewery fresh tasteand aroma the older it gets.
How much beer is in a half keg?
- 1/2 barrel of beer contains approximately 15 gallons or 1,984 fluid ounces
- 1/2 barrel of beer equals approximately 7 cases of 12-ounce bottles or cans
- 1/2 barrel of beer contains approximately 192 12-ounce glasses with a 1"head on top
- 1/4barrel of beer contains approximately 8 gallons of beer
- 1/4barrel of beer equals approximately 3 cases of 12-ounce bottles or cans
How long does a CO-2 cylinder last for dispensing draft beer?
- It takes about 1/2 lbs. of CO-2 to dispense a half barrel of beer
- A 2 1/2lb. CO-2 cylinder should dispense between 4-5 half barrels or 8-10 quarter barrels.
- A 5 lb.CO-2 cylinder (as in Marvel's 61HK) should dispense 8-10 half barrels or 18-20quarter barrels.
What are the causes of cloudy beer?
You can tell you have cloudy beer when the beer in the glass appears hazy, not clear. It can be caused by the following:
- Frozen or nearly frozen beer
- Old beer
- Beer that has been unrefrigerated for long periods of time
- Dirty glass
- Dirty faucet
- Unrefrigerated foods placed on top of cold keg
- Contaminated air source
What are the causes of flat beer?
You can tell you have flat beer when the foamy head disappears quickly and the beer lacks usual zestful brewery fresh flavor. It can be caused by the following:
- Dirty glasses
- Sluggish regulator
- Applied pressure is set too low
- CO2 is turned off at night
- Contaminated air source (associated with compressed air)
- Moisture in air system
- Beer too cold
- Loose tap or vent connections
What are the causes of foamy beer?
You can tell you have wild beer when the drawn beer is all foam, or too much foam and not enough liquid beer is present. It can be caused by the following:
- Beer drawn improperly
- Creeping regulator
- Applied pressure is set too high
- Hot spots in line
- Use of non-insulated beer line
- Beer runs are too long for proper cooling
- Tapped into a warm keg
- Cooler malfunctioning
- Kinks, dents, twists or other obstructions in line
- Faucets in bad, dirty or worn condition
What are the causes of unpalatable beer?
You can tell you have unpalatable beer when the drawn beer has an off-taste. It can be caused by the following:
- Dirty or old beer lines
- Dirty faucet
- Contaminated air source, or unfiltered
- Unsanitary bar conditions
Bottled/Can Beer Storage
The best temperature for storing package beer is between 40° and 70° Fahrenheit. At higher temperatures, especially approaching 100° Fahrenheit, the aroma and flavor of beer deteriorate rapidly. At lower temperatures, below 32° Fahrenheit, there is always the danger of freezing. If beer is frozen or exposed to multiple freezings, ingredients break down and separate, rendering it unfit for sale.
When beer is lightly frozen only once, the water in beer separates to form ice crystals. Such beer can usually be saved if it is clear after thawing. After it thaws, gently turn the can, bottle or barrel over -- end to end -- to remix the contents. The beer can then be sold.
There are three words to remember when it comes to storing beer -- clean, dry and dark. Your storage area must be clean to keep cartons, bottles and cans attractive, presentable, and dust free. Beer stored in a dirty area loses sales appeal.
Beer cartons/packages must also be protected from dampness. Damp cartons can cause bottle breakage or can damage due to wet cartons or secondary packaging.
A dark storage place is especially important for bottled beer to prevent it from becoming light-struck and from taking on an undesirable flavor and aroma. Exposure to direct sun rays will noticeably affect beer flavor in only a few minutes. Beer that is light-struck will have an odor similar to that of a skunk. This condition is known as "skunky beer." While beer in cans is not affected by light, direct sun rays cause overheating, which may change the aroma and taste.
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