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Fresh is Best

BBF has long stood by the phrase FRESH IS BEST when it comes to beer. All of this is for one goal: FLAVOUR STABILITY. Many factors affect flavour stability, from quality of raw ingredients, to brewing processes and practices to the beer style. Find out what we do in the brewery for quality and flavour stability – and what you can do to get that ‘brewery fresh’ taste at home.

 

THE 3-30-300 RULE

Let’s start with some pint-sized facts. Did you know how quickly the flavours fade in beer depends on the temperature the beer is stored at? Here is one substantiated theory you can pass onto your pals who might not be optimising their own beer consumption…

Studies conducted by breweries on flavour loss resulted in the 3-30-300 rule. The results found the same amount of flavour was lost from beer being stored for just three days at 33°C (the temperature of your car’s boot, or a hot tent) as beer being stored at room temp (around 23°C) for 30 days, and beer being stored at 3°C (fridge temperature) for 300 days. That’s a big jump.

All good bottle shops will be aware of the 3-30-300 rule or a variation of it. It’s the reason our Tap Room has strict rules regarding stock rotation on shelves, and ample fridge space for BBF cans. As a consumer, it means always storing beer in the fridge – or outhouse, or other cool place – not keeping a case at room temp and only chilling as and when you fancy a cold one.

 

IPAS VS DARK BEERS

The origin of IPAs – India Pale Ales – according to legend, was to preserve ale sent from England to India using hops. Nowadays, although we know hops help preserve beer due to their antibacterial properties, we also know their delicate flavours are more prominent when fresh.

Delicate IPA aromas and character age very fast, especially when it comes to dissolved oxygen. Oxidation is the main cause of beer turning ‘aged’. “We do all we can to keep dissolved oxygen levels in our brewery to a minimum. But there will always still be some present and over time dissolved oxygen decreases bitterness, increases sweet and cardboard-like notes” according to Tristan Hembrow, Head Brewer at BBF. “Dark beers are more stable in carrying their flavour profile for longer and they don’t suffer from dissolved oxygen as easily.”

How does Tristan rate different beer style with age? “Every beer style is different. I prefer Fortitude when it is 4-5 weeks old, it’s more of a rounder flavour. Stouts can get better with age, like a fine wine. Pales though, they are at their best (in my opinion) in the first week.”

But how can the average consumer get their hands on a beer that soon? “It’s easy! We launch specials on or immediately after the day they are canned, so thanks to next day delivery, you too can experience that first-week flavour,” says Kezia, eCommerce Manager. “And they never hang around for long. It’s best to get signed up to the mailing list to hear about new beers right away!”

 

FLAVOUR STABILITY

Time to circle back on the two things you, the beer drinker, have as much control over as the brewery: time and temperature. “Both affect ageing on beer,” says Tristan, “The biochemical processes which occur during beer storage proceed simultaneously but at different rates.”

Time: “Formation of undesirable flavours inevitably occurs during beer storage. Storage time can significantly impact beer quality, such as colloidal stability and flavour.” Yep, drink fresh.

Heat: “Storage temperature greatly affects changes to beer compounds, especially >25C. This is why a 6-month age refrigerated beer will typically taste as good as a 2-month age beer at ambient temperature. The remedy, simply, is to store cool.” Our storage? Below 10 degrees.

“It’s no good ‘saving’ a new can of IPA for a sunny day – keep chilled and enjoy at its best!” Tristan concludes.

ALCOHOL-FREE BEER

“Alcohol acts as the ‘front line of defence’ for beer spoilage and therefore AF items in general are more susceptible to microorganism spoilage,” says Tristan, “hence the 4 months ‘best before’ date on Clear Head 0.5% IPA. This could be 4 months ‘use by’ as it is that important (to me!) to drink fresh.”

And how long does it take Clear Head to get from tank to doorstop? “We brew it at least weekly and dispatch all orders via next working day delivery. Buy direct, and you could have a beer that was canned on Monday, ordered online on Tuesday morning, in your fridge by 4pm Wednesday, ready for the weekend. That’s as fresh as it gets!” explains Kezia.

According to Tom, Head of Sales, the same goes for venues. “The rate of sale of Clear Head is so high (thank you, Bristol!) that your favourite independent pubs inevitably sell fresh too.”

 

BRIGHT BEER AND YOUR SPECIAL DAY

“I’ve been known to pick up a month-old mini tin on the way to a festival, keep it in the shade of the tent for the weekend, and it’ll still do the job on the Sunday, albeit it wasn’t as tasty as it was on Friday,” says Kezia. “At a festival, we’re not too fresh ourselves by the Sunday, so who really cares! But at a wedding? We’re all putting our best foot forward, and that includes the drinks.”

5L Mini Tins and 20L Bag-in-Boxes are both prepared using ‘bright’ cask beer. This means the sediment has been dropped – a process that takes 24 hours – for the beer to be clear, even if it gets knocked. These bright beers are perfect for events, because unlike a regular cask of beer, it can be transported, and it won’t disturb the sediment and ruin the clarity of the beer. It will taste great, but the flipside is that the shelf life of the beer is dramatically reduced. “We will always work with you when ordering large quantities of bright beer for an event to make sure we prepare the beer as close to the event as possible, so it will taste brewery fresh” says Kezia.

Read our FAQs for more detailed information on the different sizing options and shelf life.

If you have any questions regarding best storage practice, looking for advice serving beer at an event, or simply want to chat hops, we’re here for it! Email shop@bristolbeerfactory.co.uk and we’ll get the best equipped member of the team to provide an answer.

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