08 Nov Marketing Specialist, Shannon Mulligan, on Why Freshness is Important to Beer
Let me paint you a picture of an evening I had just last week. Having had an exceptionally productive day (at least, that’s what I’m telling you guys), I thought I’d reward myself with a can of Winterweiss I found tucked away in the back of my fridge. I cracked it open, poured it out into the perfect glass and settled in to watch some Vampire Diaries.
And you know what? The beer wasn’t great.
Tried, Tested and True
Now, before you start pointing out, “Hey, don’t you want to keep my job?” let me say, Winterweiss is my favourite Muskoka brew. Thanks to our awesome Quality Control team and lab, I know that when it was put into the can, it was perfectly engineered to make me drool even more than I do whenever Damon comes onscreen during an episode of Vampire Diaries. It’s an incredibly well-made beer, and having purchased it from the Brewery, it went directly from the packaging line into my fridge. So what was the deal?
When your beer was brewed less than a week ago.
Turns out this Winterweiss wasn’t from 2016 – no, it was brewed back at the end of 2014 and had somehow been hiding in my fridge the entire time (probably hiding behind all the vegetables, am I right?). The beer itself was technically okay, but it wasn’t fresh, and that meant it didn’t taste as fantastic as I know it usually does. You can put as many dollars behind flashy ad campaigns as you want, but at Muskoka, we think freshness and quality are what’s really behind a great tasting beer.
I should have checked the expiry date we have on the bottom of our cans to see if my beer was fresh. On all our beers, we post a best before date prior to them leaving the brewery. Beer is a food product, and that means that while it probably still tastes awesome a few weeks past the date, and it certainly won’t make you sick, we think it’ll taste its best before that date.
Pasteurised vs. Unpasteurised
At Muskoka, our beers are all unfiltered and unpasteurised – we’re old school. The process of pasteurisation kills traces of live yeast and other organisms, meaning the beer stays fresher longer, but it can also eliminate some elements of vitamins and minerals that you may want in your beer. It means our beer should always be kept refrigerated until you’re ready to enjoy it. It also means our shelf lives are a bit shorter, but who lets beer sit around that long anyway (unless you’re like me and hid one behind the salad dressing so your husband wouldn’t find it for safe keeping).
That face you make when your beer has definitely expired.
The good news is more and more breweries are following this practice, including breweries part of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association. In fact, quality control was mentioned at this year’s OCB Conference as being a key factor for the success of our industry moving forward.
Now that I’ve convinced you drinking beer fresh is the best way to go, let me contradict myself entirely by telling you that some beers are able to be aged years, our Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is a perfect example; we recommend picking up a couple bottles and comparing them over the years. On our 3rd Annual Brewery Road Trip last year, we sampled one from 2010, and the flavours that had both diminished and developed over time presented a very different, yet still delicious, stout. If you have the willpower to hold out for a few years, your taste buds are in for a real treat.