Here in Oregon we spend a lot of time dreaming of sunny weather. And the rolling from spring to summer means that it’s finally time to sip some Maiden The Shade in the backyard, dust off the charcoal grill and start enjoying the outdoors to its fullest. While the sun provides us with Vitamin D and warm, positive vibes, beer is not too fond of the same treatment. Here are a few tips to maximize flavor and refreshment!
Block That Light!
When the sun’s out and the grill’s on often our first instinct is to crack open a beer, pour it into a clear plastic cup or glass and soak in some rays. Hold on a sec! People often think that the “skunkiness” of a beer is due to beer simply being old, but in fact it is due to UV light reacting with hop oils. If you’re planning on hanging out in the sun with your brew, consider leaving it in the brown bottle or can it came in. Brown glass, unlike the clear or green varieties, provides a lot more protection from UV rays. This is also where our canned beers excel – aluminum is opaque, blocks light and does a flawless job at keeping hoppy beers like Prismatic and Pacific Rain in their freshest condition. But if you must pour it out, consider using something like a stainless steel pint glass which can at least buy you some time to enjoy your IPA.
Keep It Cold
It goes without saying that warm beer is not refreshing, but the real enemy here is the travel between the grocery store and home. When you pick up that six pack and put it in your trunk, don’t make too many stops! Get that beer home and head straight your fridge at home. Heating beer speeds up oxidation which leads to cardboard-like staling and a loss of some of the punchier aromas from hops. If you’re not going to drink it for a while either find some space in your fridge to keep things cold, or at least find the coolest part of your house to keep things stable until the go-time of a nice cold ice chest. And if you’re really up for it, throw a cooler full of ice in your trunk and keep ‘em cold from the store!
Kicking-back with friends?
Kegs are often the center piece of summer drinking and luckily there’s a few simple solutions to providing maximum flavor potential.
- Keep it cold! Just as in bottles or cans, don’t let them warm. Try to purchase your kegs right before you plan on using them and keep them on ice in a big tub.
- Mind your party pump. There’s nothing that speeds up staling like forcing oxygen right into the keg with a party pump. If you’re lucky, some folks have a kegerator or jockey box hooked up to CO2, but if you’re not in such luck, plan on drinking your keg within a day before it goes southbound.
- Tap only what you can drink in a day. Rather than buying a full half barrel for events, think about getting two quarter barrels. You can tap one keg at a time to preserve freshness, or mix it up and get two varieties!
- Go Easy-Drinkin’! Summer is all about refreshment so in choosing lighter-bodied beers that will move quicker, you wind up with fresher beer when the last pint is poured. Consider beers like Yours Truly which clocks in at a cool 4.3% ABV and as a crowd pleaser tends to leave the keg sooner.
Now that you’re armed with the know-how of providing the freshest beer possible during summer festivities you’ll be the hero arriving to the block party with the tastiest of suds. So grab a cold beer and go enjoy the great outdoors!
About the Author
Mat Olive knows a few things about beer and isn’t afraid to drop some beer geek knowledge anytime there is an opportunity. As Ninkasi’s Brewery Experience Coordinator Mat talks beer day-in-and-day-out to brewery guests and visitors ensuring each person who makes a trek to the brewery leaves with a deeper understanding of our industry and our craft. Mat is also a Certified Cicerone® and a Recognized BJCP Judge.