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Column: An ode to all ye forgotten back-of-the-fridge beer
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A lone Sorry Umami IPA from Yoho Brewing remains forgotten in the back of a fridge, longing for someone to drink it. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Every time I open my fridge I see them, peeking behind Tupperware containers and last weekend’s leftovers.

Months go by, maybe even a year, and they remain ignored. It’s not that they’re unlovable or terrible brews, they’re just back-of-the-fridge beer. You know, the sort of beer you’re never in the mood for, or the last of a six-pack that becomes forgotten and slowly is pushed to the fridge’s back corner.

It’s a shame really. It happens to beer lovers across the world all the time. 

Wanting to make a change in my household, I decided to wade through the fresh beer to find those drinks slowly losing their souls, also known as carbon dioxide. 

So, what did I find? You know that Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee that I wrote about in August 2019? Well, we had a reunion. I also happened upon Winter’s Night, which is a Munich dunkel from Arches Brewing that expired in December 2020; Galaxy IPA from Octopi Brewing; and Sorry Umami IPA from Yoho Brewing, an IPA brewed with dried fish flakes that I purchased in January 2020. 

If you haven’t been reading my column for long, you’re probably like, “Why would anyone drink a beer with fish in it, especially one that’s over a year old?”

The answer: I do it because I genuinely love my few, yet strongly devoted, beer column readers, and I want to show my gratitude by putting my taste buds through the wringer. 

When I cracked open these brews, each let out an audible gasp like Westley from “The Princess Bride” when he inhaled air after pulling Princess Buttercup from quicksand in the fire swamp. So far, so good.

Let’s start with the PBR Hard Coffee. This was the one beer that I thought would have an extremely long shelf life because that’s how domestic alcoholic beverages roll. 

Well, I was wrong. I almost spit it out after the first sip. It tasted super nutty, but not in a good way. Sort of like pieces of walnuts that accidentally fall on the ground and are now slowly decomposing behind your couch. 

When it’s not beyond its expiration date, the drink is actually pretty tasty. I like to describe it as Starbucks’ bottled cold-brew coffee with a dash of liquor. 

Winter’s Night from Arches Brewing also surprised me. Only around four months past its expiration and stored in a cold fridge, I thought it would still be reminiscent of its original smooth malty notes. Wrong again. It tasted both medicinal and bitter.

But Sorry Umami IPA from Yoho Brewing, which is based in Nagano, Japan, was as fun to drink and delicate as I remembered from over a year ago. You would think that a beer brewed with dried and fermented flakes from bonito fish would age in an odd way. 

The IPA still offered the subtle notes of bonito flakes with the lingering umami taste on the backend. It’s fishy without being overbearing. It just works. 

If you’re looking to try this beer, visit your nearest H Mart. For Hall County residents, that closest one resides in Suwanee.

After drinking hazy IPAs for the past five years, I’ve been told many times that this style doesn’t keep well, especially when it has already been sitting unrefrigerated in a beer shop for weeks before you purchase it.

I didn’t get my hopes up when I cracked open Galaxy IPA from Octopi Brewing. I had never tried this beer before, yet somehow it was in the back of my fridge. This mystery brew is honestly one of the best IPAs I’ve had all year. It’s incredibly smooth and tastes of unripened scuppernongs, but in the best way possible.

If I’ve learned any lessons from this deep dive into my fridge, it’s that IPAs have more stamina than meets the eye and never ever drink alcoholic coffee that’s over a year old. If you’re willing to put your stomach and taste buds at risk, give your forgotten brews a shot, you might rediscover something delightful.