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I'm double dry hopping my Rye India Pale Ale, doing half with simply double the dry hops, and half one addition, remove, adding the other half to see if anyone within drinking distance can distinguish the difference.

Once this beer is bottled and carbonated, I'll be attempting to drink it more quickly than my less hoppy creations to be certain, but if getting a third refrigerator for beer storage would help preserve hop aroma, then I need one.

I'm really looking for either an answer from experience or strong theory, as I already suspect that in general keeping things colder would keep them fresher.

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I don't want to post this as an answer because I'm not well-versed enough, but this is what I've gathered from reading & podcasts... Hop flavor and aroma is lost primarily through the oxidative staling of polyphenols. Dr. Charlie Bamforth often posits that the rate of staling doubles for every 10 degree C increase in temperature. So if you want your IPAs to taste fresher longer, keep them in the fridge. Others can feel free to correct me or expand on this in a proper answer. –  JackSmith Apr 18 '11 at 14:40
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+1 for doing the experiment despite the answers and comments (like mine) on your post about double dry hopping. I respect that a lot. –  brewchez Apr 18 '11 at 15:22
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+50

Since my comment got upvotes, and since you put a bounty, and since nobody corrected me nor added more than I originally said, I'll re-submit my comment as an answer:

This is what I've gathered from reading & podcasts... Hop flavor and aroma is lost primarily through the oxidative staling of polyphenols. Dr. Charlie Bamforth often posits that the rate of staling doubles for every 10 degree C increase in temperature. So if you want your IPAs to taste fresher longer, keep them in the fridge.

Now, anecdotally, I can say that even keeping your IPA in a fridge won't stop it from changing over the course of a couple of months. I brewed an IPA in January 2011 that I felt was too bitter. However, a few months later and it has mellowed a bit. It is still quite bitter, but it's more balanced now than it was when it was fresh. I have posted my tasting notes for the beer online. First Tasting. Follow-up tasting. And click here for competition judges notes, which were taken roughly in between those two tastings. (I can remove these links if such a thing is frowned upon here. I just figured they served this answer well.)

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I like your answer, and I haven't had the discipline to keep enough of my IPA around to test this time. Maybe next time (unlikely as IPA's are delicious) –  Mlusby Jun 13 '11 at 14:07
    
Cheers. Next batch, take one sixer and label each bottle with a drink-on date. Date one to be drank four weeks after conditioning finishes, six weeks, eight weeks, etc. Then stick them in the back of the fridge. When you reach for a beer, you'll see those dated stickers and, if you're strong, won't touch the beer until it's time. –  JackSmith Jun 13 '11 at 14:51
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Cold slows reactions down. The reactions which degrade hop aroma would be slowed partially by colder temps.

But as your question states, does it significantly slow the loss of aroma. I think its largely subjective nose to nose. Cold certainly slows it down, but significantly is hard to quantify.

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