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Self life of home brew

What is the self life of your home brew in glass bottles. I bottle two batches back I Feb 2013 and opened one of each yesterday and they are both sour tasting.

It shouldn’t be sour after just 7 months in the bottle. You must have a sanitation/contamination problem, or perhaps it’s possible you are perceiving a flavor as sourness that is really something else. Beer will last for a year or two before beginning to taste bland, or like caramel or cardboard due to oxidation. It doesn’t usually go sour though unless wild bugs are at work.

Early this year I had the last bottle of a batch of brown ale that was really good after a year in the bottle.
I also have a couple of bottles of bitter left from a batch brewed well over a year ago and other than the hoppiness fading it is still good.

Agreed that sour is likely from sanitation.

So since sanitation seems to be a likely culprit what are you bottling steps. As far as cleaning and sanitizing. It happens and it sucks. Odds are once that once it’s gone it’s gone and not getting better.

To add to what others have said - the style of beer will also age better or worse than others.

An IPA is best enjoyed young - in the first 2-3 months after bottling, whereas a stout or porter will be at it’s prime many months after bottles, whereas an imperial will be at it’s prime well over a year after bottling whereas a barley-wine can be at it’s prime many years after bottling.

There are some commercial barley-wines that are 10 years old and age like a fine wine.

All of that said, you should expect any of your average homebrews, assuming proper sanitation and storage, to taste great a year or more later.

Granted, if you have beer that lasts you that long, you’re either brewing too much or drinking too slow!

Yup, sour = infection. Old beer is more likely to taste cardboardy than sour.

I keg these days, but when I bottled I used to routinely hold back a bottle or two for a year just to see what would happen. Sometimes they were noticeably past their prime, but they were never BAD. I think my oldest beer (a strong maple porter) made it to 5 years or so, and I have meads now that are 6 years old.

so if my beer soured what would have caused it. I have some a 2 months ago and it didn’t tasted like this. Where is the best place to make beer in your house est.

Sometimes a few of your bottles may not get as clean as you would think they are. That would give you random sour beers. Adopt a good bottle cleaning and sanitizing process which works for you and stick with it. I heat my bottles up to 160F in a solution of PBW and water and soak them until they sparkle. Its a lot of work but worth it. I have beers up to 8 years old in my cellar and they still taste great.

My routine that’s always worked for me, clean the bottles, rinse them in Star San just before bottling,
boil my caps, boil the sugar prime solution, then bottle. No one ever said it was wrong, so I stick to the routine. I’ll question it if anything goes wrong. Just me.

Oh, I almost forgot, like Greg, I drank a 7 year old barley wine from my friends cellar once, from a bottle, and it’s still hands down the best brew I’ve tasted ever.

[quote=“stompwampa”]To add to what others have said - the style of beer will also age better or worse than others.

An IPA is best enjoyed young - in the first 2-3 months after bottling[quote]

The irony is that all the hops in an IPA help it hold up better over time.

I’ve had bottles of homebrewed Burton/Old Ale/Barleywine/RIS upwards of 10 years old and they were, for the most part, pretty amazing.

Any beer will change character after bottling, and some definitely do not benefit from aging (whereas other beers almost demand it). But a beer that started out good but soured after bottling does strongly suggest a sanitation issue.

I’ve made a few high ABV beers that really improved with age.

I found out yesterday that Saison de Noel doesn’t age particularly well. Still drinkable, but not something I’m going to continue to cellar.

An oddity is Denny’s Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Stout. Most beers with a big punch like this one do well with a long bottling stage, but not this one. Oh it is still good older, but the vanilla fades remarcably fast. I don’t buy that it can get out of a sealed bottle so it must be metabolized or degrades into something else cause after just a few months the vannilla is pretty low in the flavor profile no matter how much you initially put in. Great beer while young though and it is my “fastest big beer”, In other words it is done in a really short time for a Hi Grav beer.


Very interesting. I hadn’t heard that before.

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