We’re bringing back the Binny’s mailbag with a question as old as bottled beer itself. Somehow, we hear this question over and over again.
Binny’s Mailbag -
We have two cases of bottled MGD and Stella that are left over from a party. They were refrigerated and very cold. We took them out and they are room temperature. Can we re-refrigerate them? My husband says that re-refrigerated beer loses its quality. Is that correct? We would like to only re-refrigerate some of them and keep the rest at room temperature until needed. Will they be all right?
Your beer is fine. You can absolutely re-refrigerate beer with no worries. Even fancy-pants unpasturized craft beer. Once again, beer can go from fridge cold to room temperature and back to fridge cold with no ill effects.
What can we do to dispel this old wives’ tale? We aren’t entirely sure how it started, but it seems to be intertwined with an advertising campaign waged decades ago by the littlest big brewer in Colorado. Something about being brewed cold, and transported cold, and the myth spread.
Beer is as shelf-stable as most other nonperishable food items. Similar to, say, a can of creamed corn? You wouldn’t want either to sit around forever, but a few temperature changes won’t hurt. Sure you can affect the taste with extreme temperature fluctuations, but the minor change from fridge to room temperature (from ~37 to ~74) isn’t going to ruin a shelf-stable product.
Beer’s real foe is light. We’ve heard it said that temperature change causes skunkiness. This isn’t the case. Skunky beer is the result of a chemical reaction when acid compounds in hops break apart and recombine with other chemicals to form MBT, a mercaptan or thiol. Light is the catalyst for this reaction, and since green glass allows the most light through, green bottles are sometimes (unfairly?) associated with skunky beer.
If you’re super geeked and want to age craft beer, then the lesson is that you want to store your beer in a dark, temperature-stable environment. But then you’re talking about cellaring bottles for months or even years.
We are tempted to do some science of our own. Idea: buy a six pack of beer to test. We’ll leave three bottles cold in the fridge, one in a dark cupboard at room temperatere, one on a sunny windowsill, and one outside in this hundred-degree heat. Then we’ll chill them all and compare. Then again, that would cost us two beers, which would be silly. Convince us to do this thing in the comments.