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I've gone up to 2 years with very little degradation. But hoppy beers lose their hoppiness over time, best to drink them young.

Right now I'm having a Prohibition Porter bottled 5/20/16. It's as good as new!

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properly stored beer can age indefinitely. keep them in a climate controlled place like your home. keep them out of UV light (sun and some florescent lights). dont let them get overly warm (lets the garage storage method out)...  

 

beer changes with time. you will find hops more muted. malts more malty.   flavors meld and change, many times for the better. if you have a very heavy high gravity beer like a russian imperial stout, aging for a very long time is actually a good thing.  big beers tend to develop fusel alcohols while brewing. (yeast get stressed.) what starts off tasting like a medicinal or astringent beer can mellow over a year into something spectacular.

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At some point, the beer will oxidize.  You will note stale, winy/vinous, cardboard, papery, or sherry-like aromas and flavors.  When that is noticeable by you is unknown.  I know someone that says any beer more than 6 months old she can tell, but she's referring to commercial beers put into the bottle carbonated, not homebrews carbonated by sugar.  Don't know if that makes a difference to her - commercial bottle was purged of O2 by CO2 before filling and capped on foam, homebrew had O2 in the top but the yeast should have eaten it when carbonating.  I just gave her a few homebrews including one that was over a year old...

 

As noted, some brews are designed to age in a bottle for a long time.  

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On Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 2:51 AM, zorak1066 said:

properly stored beer can age indefinitely. keep them in a climate controlled place like your home. keep them out of UV light (sun and some florescent lights). dont let them get overly warm (lets the garage storage method out)...  

 

beer changes with time. you will find hops more muted. malts more malty.   flavors meld and change, many times for the better. if you have a very heavy high gravity beer like a russian imperial stout, aging for a very long time is actually a good thing.  big beers tend to develop fusel alcohols while brewing. (yeast get stressed.) what starts off tasting like a medicinal or astringent beer can mellow over a year into something spectacular.

Truing to do too many things as I toss out this answer. I hope it's not a confused waste of time.

As a home brewer, your enemies are your brewing habits, environmental influences and an inability to stop yourself from sampling. 

As Zorack1006 and gophers6 state above, light and temperature are major considerations. A skunked beer is caused by the hop oils spoiling due to light and temperature. If you're a cook, you'll understand how cooking oils can go bad. Another big influence is how much oxygen your beer is exposed to after fermentation is another factor. If you rush during bottling you could accidentally be adding oxygen.

Time has a big influence on your beer. Your yeast are living organisms, as long as some of them can continue to find something they can eat, they will. Big beers get cleaned up with time. Hoppy beers will mellow. The fun for me is tasting how the flavors develop and meld together. Then trying to figure out what influence I had in the process.  

Over the Summer while channel surfing, I stumbled across a program about a long term lagering facility in Germany. Major breweries in the EU are studying the very answer to your question. So far, they have discovered, beer doesn't necessarily go bad. I need to figure out what that program was.

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to me the only definition of a beer gone 'bad' is one in which they got an infection like e coli that made the beer unsafe to drink. if you have even the slightest hygienic practices while brewing you are already doing way more than they ever did prior to the 1700s.  what typically happens is the beer is exposed to something that makes off flavors.

 

off flavors can be masked. in all my adult years ive only had one truly 'skunked' beer from prolonged garage storage in Michigan over years of time. it was awful. ive only had one with a lacto infection that I covered up by adding tang orange powder to the glass. ive only had one batch of wine  that tasted like wet dog fur smells or like soggy cardboard from oxidation. to that I added soda and still drank it.  a guy at work used to brew with his dad as a kid... using hose water for the wort... and then they wondered why every batch came out tasting like Band-Aids.  between the off flavors imparted by the hose, and the chloramine from the municipal tap water it is no wonder they didn't like their beer. rather than diagnosing what was going wrong they just gave up.

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Thank yiu. Everything is always super clean. Was just wondering about shelf life Unrefrigerated. They won’t last too long. Was just wondering. 

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Christmas day I Cracked a couple Porter's and Long Play IPA's I made 9/16, they were absolutely delicious!! Out of each batch I make I set a six pack aside for special occasions that age for 8 months to a year.

 

They do get better with age luckily my cellar stays cool all year long.

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