4 July 2017

Avoid Fridge Gridlock - Drink your Beer!

  
Choices, Choices...
Have you looked in your fridge lately? Your beer cellar or closet? Taken stock of what you have, when you acquired it and more importantly, when you plan on drinking it? So many of us tend to want to hang onto a beer because we only have one or two of them and with the exception of those beers actually designed to be aged, this madness must stop. I am not great when it comes to cellaring my beer because for the most part, I buy them to try them. I understand that Imperial Stouts and Brett laden beers will change and even improve with time spent waiting but I think sometimes we are focusing too much on the hoarding and having and less on the drinking and enjoying. I was having this discussion with a few friends the other day and it struck me as odd that we used to make sure we had enough cold beer in the fridge as opposed to buying 10 of something to age it and save it for later. When did the exclusivity and difficulty in acquiring a beer or simply having a dozen of one of them take away from the fun of drinking it?

  I am as guilty as the next beer lover of wanting that latest release from the darling craft brewer of the day. Only 600 bottles you say? Oh baby, I want some of that. But as I have spent more time trying and enjoying beers from all over the world, it has occurred to me that, with very few exceptions, I want to drink them now. What good is a fridge full of IPAs if I am unable to enjoy them fresh? Outside of those Imperial stouts or bottle conditioned beers, what am I really waiting for? Most beer has a shelf life based on how it was produced, the style and how it has been stored. If a beer is to be aged, usually the brewery will either do it themselves or let you know it can be saved for a later date. But the vast majority of beer we are buying at the stores or breweries is meant to be consumed fresh. No preservatives or additives means Craft beer is susceptible to the ravages of time and temperature so to age them makes no sense.
  Creating what I call 'Fridge Gridlock' is a serious problem for many people I know and the only way to resolve it is to drink the beer as you buy it. We all too often go rushing out to buy this or that must have new release and then repeat that behaviour a few days later when the next brewery announces their special, limited edition bottle. While I am also guilty of wanting all the beer I can get my hands on, this means I encounter Fridge Gridlock as I pile more and more beer into my fridge. Without proper FIFO (First in, First Out) management of my stock, some beers that should be consumed immediately get shoved to the back, only to reappear months later when cleaning or attempting to re-organize. It is important to move the newest beers to the back, rotate the older ones forward and then drink your way through. Not to say you shouldn't drink a new beer the day you get it, but if you have more than one, make sure you are not trapping older beers behind your 3 cans of the newest IPA.
  Having said that, I make it a point to drink most of my IPAs as fresh as I can, moving them to one side of the fridge and creating a zone for as many other styles. Lagers, ales and other longer lasting (flavour wise, anyway) styles can wait a while and I can generally work them into my rotation a little easier. Mood can determine your beer a lot of the time, as well as availability and time of the year. But to relegate beers to the back of the fridge because you bought too many and want to move on means maybe you should plan better or perhaps Beer Saint some of those out to friends to make room for more. I work on a pretty strict budget right now and with few exceptions only can buy one or two of the latest releases to go with my regular brews. I don't often buy cases of anything and have learnt that less is indeed more when it comes to choosing a beer every night.
I occasionally go a little overboard.
 Fridge Gridlock is not only about losing track of what is in there, it is also that weird paralysis that can come from having too many choices. I have had many times where I stare at the shelves unable to choose and walk away until I can decide. If the fridge is so jammed that you can't even see everything you have or your styles are all mixed up, this problem can be even more pronounced. A lucky few who only like one or two styles can avoid this problem but for most of us, organization is the key.
  I have been refining my fridge skills for a few years and despite many setbacks due to my own occasional self indulgence. I have found a  good way to keep Fridge Gridlock from taking over and leaving me with beer that is less than optimal. Some of my strategies are :
  1. Keep rotating - As said before, first in-first out makes a huge difference.
  2. Don't overbuy - Unless you are trading or beer sainting, why have 10 of anything that is just going to get pushed to the back of the fridge. Buy what you will drink and enjoy fresh.
  3. Create Style Zones - If you're lucky enough to have the space, try to keep your beer separated by style and date bought. I try to keep the different types to different sides and shelves with some overlap (i.e. dark lagers near lagers; porters and stouts together). Regular go-to beers tend to go in the door, with the one offs or seasonals up front on the shelves to remind me to drink them first.
  4. Cellar beers - I keep a list of what I have and when it went in. If you love to do verticals (many different years of the same beer) make a space for that particular one. Have an idea when you want to pull them out as not everything will get better more than a few years out. Keep them at a constant cool temp and resist the urge to look at them if you want to wait. Unseen is best until the right time.
  5. Be Reasonable - Unless you pound beers every day, do you really need 60 beers at a time in your fridge? Buy when you can, stay on budget and keep your fridge clean.
  6. Enjoy what you have - Don't let every new release make you buy more than you can drink. It is normal to want every beer you see but it is better to focus on what you have in front of you than to worry about all the others. Savour the tasty beers you have and create space for new ones at the same time.
  7. Be a Beer Saint - Make room and have a great time by sharing your spoils with friends and family. It will help clean up your fridge and make you feel good about doing it.
  Know yourself and be true to what you enjoy drinking. Keep that beer flowing and don't let Fridge Gridlock take over your life. Drink your damn beer!


  Raise your glass and your standards,
  One beer at a time!


  Cheers!


  Polk

4 comments:

  1. I find having a record keeping system helps too. I use Beerxchange, and it helps approximate your "drink by" date for those beers with no bottling data, so you can always tell what should be your next beer, and it integrates with Untappd. It's also a great resource if you're looking to pick up or offload some of the harder to find beers for beer trades.

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  2. I have often pondered the drinking problem vs. storage problem, but now I know it is a over-buying vs. aging issue. Cheers!

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  3. Hello,
    Such a good article with useful information. I got good idea about Beer Fridge. I would like to read more similar posts. So kindly keep posting.

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