Animation by Eric DeFreitas
A few years ago, beer buyers in New York City performed a monthly ritual. Brian Gundell, Greenpoint Beer’s Director of Sales and Marketing, contacted them and informed them that he was on his way to the Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) store which had shut down the brewery in the morning. You wanted something commercial?
The answer has always been yes. Pictures of these beers reached Instagram almost immediately. In some shops dozens of cans were sold before the barcode was entered into the database.
The scenario is symbolic of the beer boom in New York City, which has only increased over the past decade and is still growing even today, although it has been weakened by the new coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic began, the enthusiasts queued up for the breweries to be among the first to receive cans and funnels of the latest IPY. Even the specialty stores loved freshness. Shortly before we went to the tank with a drink, it seemed that the dream of a beer lover was to get our hands on a freshly drunk API.
One of the reasons is that APIs are known for their temperament. He’s been feeling good for weeks, even months. Others should be appreciated as soon as possible. This has led many enthusiasts to look for dates in cans, which are usually at the bottom of the cans to check if they are fresh.
But is this good practice? Can I consume the API too early?
According to Gandell, the optimal freshness plan depends on the type of API.
The IPA in New England has about two and a half to three weeks before the characteristics of the hops fall sharply, he says. As one of our brewers, Mikey Fishbone, says, NEIPA is like a farm cheese made from beer: fast and dirty. ”
Gandell indicates a decrease in aromatic properties in the days and weeks after storage.
The timeline remains tight for West Coast API, which is known for its drier taste profile, generally using grapefruit pulp, smoke, resin and pine, as opposed to the fruity, vegetal flavors of foggy beer.
Once we pour it into a glass, it’s a time bomb, where it gets duller and less tasty every day, said Evan Price, co-founder of the Green Cheek Beer Company in Orange, California. The hippie smells that were once lively and exciting are fading away more and more.
Some bars go to extremes to keep the IPA as fresh as possible. In the garden of the Fluid brewery in Ventura, co-owner Jan Schwertman bought a Sprinter van with refrigerator to brew beer directly in the breweries.
One of the most proud moments for us is when we can record an amazing barrel of API on the day it was drilled, she said. Then we know our customers have the best taste.
However, many national brands need time before their products reach large markets.
Mahalya Duncan, a representative of the Mikkeller San Diego brewery, says that some sectors of the artisanal beer market are more obsessed with directness than others. We know an API can take about three months, but many retailers are tired of being too close, three or four weeks ago.
Lawson Sip Sunshine / Photo courtesy of Lawson’s Best Liquids
Sean Lawson, owner/brewer of Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Vermont, has made Sip of Sunshine one of the most sought-after APIs in the country.
We have a 60 day freshness code on all our APIs, which means that if the beer is always kept cool, we assure the customer that the beer will be in excellent condition for at least 60 days, he says.
Some beer-obsessed craftsmen are looking for the right balance.
My personal preference is to drink IPA before they reach the three-week mark, says Jason Rappaport, chief of staff of the Universal Standard fashion brand. It is often found on Saturday mornings in Brooklyn, New York, queuing for the other half of the brew. Then, depending on the brewery, there is usually a significant decrease in freshness.
According to Mr. Rappaport, some beers can be drunk too early. In the first days after bottling, the beer can taste a bit warm or green, and it takes a while to settle down, he says.
Eno Sarris, national baseball writer for The Athletic and a lover of homemade beer, believes that the urgency of drinking beer within a few hours of bottling has decreased somewhat.
I don’t feel like I have to drink the beer out of the tank for the first few weeks, he said. I usually like beer brewed last month. I’m going away for six weeks to get something special.
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