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Shelf Life of Home Brew

I have been brewing for about 8 to 9 years now but still consider myself a rookie. Started out with a “Beer Machine” and worked my way up. About three and a half years ago I brewed up a batch of autumn ale and bottled it. I tried a couple of bottles after it had been bottle aging for from 4 to 5 weeks and didn’t care for it that much. I took it to my basement hoping to have some at a later date. I had some medical problems and was unable to have any of it because of surgery and treatments. I just started brewing again this past Saturday and will be needing my bottles that are currently occupied by this brew. I openned up a couple and dumped them out. Much to my suprise they had a nice carbonation, head and smelled really nice. I took one and chilled it and drank later that afternoon. It really isn’t my favorite beer, but it tasted much better than the early one that I had. I haven’t had any ill effect yet, but is there a risk associated with drinking beer this old??

Never argue with a fool in a crowd, after a few minutes, the crowd can"t tell who the original fool was.

I found a couple of my first brews earlier this year, extract pale ales I believe. They were pretty good actually, just a little less hoppy. I don’t think theres much risk as long as everything tastes/smells OK.

forgot to mention they were 3-4 years old

Only the risk of wanting another one:)

Thanks guys,

Now I’m going to have to drink all of that beer in a couple of weeks rather than dump it out. Perhaps I’ll spend my Christmas money on a new kegging system.

kegs for quick brews & bottles for long age-rs, IMO.


When I started brewing I saved two bottles of every batch I brewed. After several years I finally broke down and drank them, most were just fine although not spectacular. I used some of them for cooking.

I had some 16 year old home brew and tried some. It was nicely carbonated and clear but had a cidery taste. I’m still ok.

nothing in beer is going to make you sick.

About 15 years ago, when my brother had just begun home brewing, he made a batch of (what he called) oatmeal stout that was drinkable, but pretty unremarkable. Apparently, he had given a bottle to our dad, who put it in the refrigerator and forgot about it. Last fall, we happened to be visiting Dad, talking about brewing, and out of the blue, my dad mentioned that he had a bottle of homebrew in his refrigerator… turned out it was the same one from 15 years before! Highly curious, my brother and I popped the top and had a taste. It was excellent - very smooth, with a complex roasted grain flavor, and perfectly carbonated. We were both very impressed with how good it was. Not a hint of off-flavors or age degradation. I am not a connoisseur of stouts, but I wouldn’t mind having a case of that stuff in the fridge! Almost certainly, the refrigeration and darkness played a role in preserving it. But, his sanitation procedures must also have been pretty good.

In all the joys of homebrewing, the discovery of a “mystery bottle”, hiding in the deep recesses of the fridge has to be one of the highlights. I started brewing in 2004 and, like many, I saved several bottles for that first batch (a pretty standard, not spectacular pale ale). Two summers ago, I cracked one. It was fantastic. Great carbonation, smooth hops. I still have one bottle left. A few months ago, as a friend recovered from some pretty scary surgery, her husband discovered one of my bottles (unlabeled of course) in their fridge – and we popped it. It was my original black IPA, created more than a year before. It was better than good. God I love making beer.

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