IPAs do not have a heart beat, but they do have a life expectancy. Like most things made fresh for immediate consumption, IPAs do not improve over time. Whether it’s a straight up pale ale, an IPA or a DIPA it is pretty safe to say it will taste better today rather than tomorrow. You should consume most IPAs within 75 days of the fill date. Some brewers recommend a time frame as short as 3 weeks. As a growing tide of beer lovers put several hours of effort into obtaining the latest and greatest fresh IPAs more hop aficionados will experience IPA Anxiety.
What exactly is IPA Anxiety? It occurs when you have made great efforts to obtain a fridge full of hop goodies and you have an increasingly overwhelming desire to consume them while at peak flavor, yet you realize it will take a month or more. With each day that passes your IPA Anxiety will increase.
Years ago Big Beer put this idea in our head that the canned or bottled on date for pales, lagers and pilsners is important. They called it a “born on date.” These days most brewers put a clear date on their bottles and cans representing the date it was filled. Since hop flavor can fall off fast this date means everything. Depending on the IPA, and your opinion, the peak consumption time frame is up for debate. When you consider that you just flew to New York, and drove to Vermont, to wait in line for 2 cases of some of the best IPAs in the world you want to enjoy them at their best. After the initial excitement of the beer hunt wears off you WILL experience IPA Anxiety.
If you are serious about maximizing your hop pleasure and minimizing IPA Anxiety below are some tips to get you through 2 cases in 75 days.
1) Put all of your IPA category beer in the refrigerator. There’s room, no excuses! I am sure half of your condiments expired 2 years ago so throw them out. Keeping your beer cold helps preserve freshness.
2) Organize each beer by fill date from left to right. If the dates are similar put your pales on the left followed by IPAs then DIPAs.
3) Throughout the week skip dessert and replace it with your freshest DIPA. I am sure you would rather have a Heady Topper or a Second Fiddle than a piece of cake.
4) When your schedule includes a happy hour or a day of maximum hop assisted relaxation, start off with a pale ale or 2 and follow it up with an IPA then a DIPA. I recommend that you drink in IBU order when possible, your palate will appreciate it.
5) Most importantly invite over all your hop loving friends to share your efforts.
Again, consume IPAs within 75 days of the fill date. If you are not sure of the optimal freshness window ask the brewer. Brewers like to hear from the people that love their beer. You might also consider trading some of your fresh hops for a sour or dark beer which can last years. From Vermont to Oregon IPA Anxiety is a welcome hoppy condition.
Thanks for reading The Hop Habit. Salud!
Original post date August 4th 2017 written in 2016