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Sometimes I buy beer more quickly than I can drink it -- a sad state of affairs, I know, but it happens. I know that some beers are best drunk within a few weeks and others can be fine for months, but I don't know which are which. What are the rules of thumb for this? How can I determine how long a bottle of beer will keep before starting to lose its taste? (Assume appropriate storage.)

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There are some rules of thumb. First, if it's a hop-oriented beer (pales, IPAs), drink sooner than later, as the hop aromas and flavor will fade over time. Second, the higher the alcohol by volume (ABV, think imperial stouts), the better chance it has of lasting longer.

That said, it may be best to ask the brewer what the recommended shelf life is for any specific beer.

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