I'd like to say "misplaced" or "forgotten" but honestly I just don't drink beer much in my apartment during the semester. I was elsewhere last summer, and the same pattern repeated itself this past year. But now I'm here and wondering how drinkable 2 year old beer is.

What do you think? I once found a 5-year old case of beer.

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Of course, we drank it. Poor college students will drink anything, especially if it's free! Reply 2 of I should add that the beer was in a case in a dark closet, so there you go just in case anyone has any questions about whether it was exposed to light. Reply 3 of Beer is a Perishable Product Beer is a foodstuff. As with most foodstuffs, beer is perishable-it deteriorates as a result of the action of bacteria, light, and air. However, unlike other food products, packaged beer is not legally mandated to carry a "sell by" date.

Nonetheless, some domestic beer sold in the United States does carry a freshness date. The Boston Beer Company was among the first to use freshness dating, as far back as Anheuser-Busch has followed suit with its much-publicized "born on" dates. There are still many breweries, large and small, which do not send all their beers to market with a freshness date, but the trend is certainly moving in the right direction.

Stabilization Prior to bottling, a typical commercial ale or lager will undergo some form of stabilization to extend its shelf life. The two primary forms of stabilization are sterile filtration, in which the beer is passed through a microporous filter that will not let through any "crunchy bits" larger than 0. Both approaches are widely used, though a number of brewers have noted that sterile filtration strips some hop flavors from their ales.

A third, traditional option for preparing a beer for its journey in a bottle to your glass, "bottle conditioning," is dealt with later. The drinking window The length of time it takes for a beer to become stale a papery note, dulled hop character, or other off flavors is determined by the alcoholic strength and hopping level of the beer.

Both alcohol and hops help preserve beer. Thus hoppier, stronger beers keep for longer. Typically, the freshness period for a lager is four months; for stronger craft-brewed ales, five months. High-gravity, high-strength beers such as doppelbocks typically carry a six- to twelve-month freshness period.

Sam Adams Fresh Until date...

All of the preceding assumes proper handling of the beer. How can you determine the "drinking window" of a beer? It depends on the dating system used by the brewery. Taking a typical example of Boston Beer? In the case of a beer with a "born on" date Anheuser-Busch products, for example , the freshness period is approximately four months after the date on the label. A note of caution Imported beer can have a rough ride on its way to your local retailer. First, it must undergo a sea voyage, hopefully in temperature-controlled containers, or "reefers," in industry parlance.

After sitting in the bonded customs warehouse hopefully, air conditioned , it must pass through an importer? In the best case, the local wholesaler will have temperature-controlled storage and an efficient stock control system, although this is an area of commerce that is not renowned for sympathetic handling of product or startling efficiency with stock.

One thing is for sure-at any moment of time in the Byzantine system of beer distribution in the United States, a prodigious amount of imported beer is sitting in warehouses slowly undergoing the inexorable effects of aging. This is not to suggest that many imported beers do not find their way to us in perfect condition. However, one is not reassured by the reluctance of virtually all beer importers to put freshness dating on the wares that they import.

Beers produced for consumption in European Union countries are mandated to have an expiration date on the packaging. When the same breweries produce a batch for export to the United States, too often, off comes the expiration dating and on goes the Surgeon General? It must be said that some imported beers do carry a freshness date, but they are vastly outnumbered by those that do not.

Thus a consumer purchasing a six pack of imported Czech pilsner or English bitter may have no idea as to how long the product has been in the chain of distribution. In both examples freshness is as important as with any domestic ale or lager. Dust or label discoloration may give a clue that a beer has been too long on a retailer?

At the Beverage Testing Institute it has been noticed that a number of bottles purchased at retail have failed the freshness test, sometimes to the point of being undrinkable. Ultimately, market pressure will be the only factor that will promote wide-scale introduction of useful freshness dating for imported beers. Until such time, consumers can use the following commonsense approaches to avoid being shortchanged with stale imported beer.

Try to purchase imports from reputable specialty stores with enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Check the crown cap seal if it is a bottled product to see if there has been any seepage. If there has, then the bottle most likely has been subjected to heat abuse. Dusty, discolored labels should not inspire confidence. Always insist on returning skunky, out-of-condition beer for a refund see our article on beer faults to know what to look for.

This should be no problem if you heed the first point. Bottles, Cans, Widgets, and Growlers What, if any, difference does packaging make? Surprisingly, it can be quite a significant factor. Following is a brief rundown of the major points of interest regarding the various "enclosures," or containers, in which beer is shipped and sold. Clear versus colored glass bottles If you have ever wondered why most beer bottles are amber or green, the answer is simple.

The full spectrum of daylight can have undesirable effects on a beer over a period of time. The ultraviolet portion of the spectrum is especially harmful; promoting chemical reactions that produce "off flavors" that will take the edge off the freshness of a beer. Dark glass greatly inhibits this photochemical effect, whereas clear glass leaves the beer within vulnerable to being "light struck.

Sam adams freshness dating

Nitrogen capsules "widgets" Guinness introduced the nitrogen capsule, commonly known as the widget, in cans of Guinness Stout in the late s. Subsequently, this device has caused many shirts and shoes to be soaked with beer as people discover for themselves the magic of nitrogen draft flow systems. Guinness served on draft acquires its creamy head when nitrogen bubbles are flushed through the beer at the time of serving. The widget is a small plastic capsule containing pressurized nitrogen gas that rushes out of a pinhole when the can is opened and the internal pressure is lowered.

Widgets have now found their way into bottles as well as cans and have jumped species from Irish stouts to other ales, though not necessarily with the same levels of critical acclaim. Packaging in aluminum cans does necessarily imply pasteurization.

Is 2 Year Old Beer Drinkable?

Although cans do not fit the image of the craft-brewed product, there is no technical reason why high-quality beer cannot be sold in cans, and, in fact, a number of craft brewers are launching canned products. A significant impediment to craft brewers using cans instead of bottles is the high capital cost of the pasteurization and packing equipment required. Among imports, British bitters are often shipped in aluminum cans, and a certain brand of Australian lager has forged an image by being sold in a large "oil can" size. Growlers A growler is a plastic or glass container used for selling fresh draft beer straight from the tap.

Beer sold in this format, generally from a brewpub, must be refrigerated and then consumed within a day or two. Living Beer The term "living beer" can be either high praise or a slap in the face for a brewer.

If the things that are "living" in the beer are microorganisms that ought not to be there, then it is bad news for a beer and its brewer. Live beer, however, generally refers to the presence of noble yeasts left over from the brewing process. Beers that have been bottled unpasteurized and unfiltered, with a significant amount of live yeast, are called "bottle-conditioned" beers.

The purpose of bottling beers in such a manner is to give them the potential to age and develop more complexity. Converse apolo glu his ushers below.