Posts Tagged ‘Ageing’

Cellaring Beer, The Rules

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

This is part two of my post on cellaring beers. For the first part click here. Also Ryan, on of the guys at the company that maintains and runs this blog (I’m just the guy who writes it) is giving away his Porsche Cabriolet. Check out PorschePerfect for a chance to enter.


Back in part one of this post I mentioned that a google search on cellaring beer usually turns up an article written by Angie Rayfield. Usually if your lucky enough to find one not credited to her or written by her though at least half the article will be plagiarized from hers. So since Angie is the Internet authority on cellaring let’s take a look at her rules (paraphrased so that I’m not necessarily plagiarizing)

• Cellar the beer at serving temperature. Heat can cause a beers lifespan to shorten, and too cold can cause chill haze. Then she gives you temperature suggestions (but I don’t wanna do that).

• Store bottles upright.

• Always purchase at least two of whatever beer you want to cellar. Drink one immediately, then cellar the other for at least a year. This way you can do a comparison.

• Although it’s included as a sub rule unworthy of boldness Angie also suggests not storing beer in a refrigerator since the lack of humidity will dry out the corks causing them to fail

While Angie’s rules are all well and good they are mostly written for corked beers and personally I have issues with some of them. So here are Jared’s rules for aging.

• Make sure the bottle will maintain a proper seal. If it’s a corked bottle follow the rules for aging corked beers. If it’s a capped beer that you want to store long term then melt some paraffin wax in a double boiler and put a wax seal on that puppy. After all, seals in caps go bad, and if that $15 bottle of barley wine you’ve spent a year aging came out of the cellar worse then it went in it would suck. Keep in mind that if your only aging a beer for several months and not a year or two then special precautions may not be necessary.

• Purchasing of multiple beers allows you to taste the beer as it ages to determine when it’s at it’s best. That being said it’s not a hard fast rule that you should buy more then one. The six pack of old foghorn aging in my pantry is next to a single bottle of an imperial stout I purchased. Granted I’d tried the stout before so I have an idea what the original is like, but I don’t have six bottles of that stout up there for incremental age testing. Also if you want to compare a beer year to year the only reliable way is to add multiple bottles of the same beer to your collection every year. That way you can try the 2 year, 1 year, and this year beer in one session for comparison. The idea that you’ll distinctly remember the original in a year is silly.

• Lastly, and something Angie mentions in the comments on the original post. Beer aging wont make a beer better persay. It helps to think of aging as making a beer different. Over time the flavors and aroma of a beer will change. For some people this is good, some people however prefer their beers young and full of hop characteristics. Aging is a matter of personal preference, and it should be enjoyable. If you are cellaring beer to sell later at a profit then of course you should take the matter more seriously, but if not then remember beer is meant to be enjoyed. If you pile on the art, snobbery, and the various crap wine makers have done to their beverage then you will effect it’s enjoyment for yourself.

Cellaring Beer

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I wrote this as one post, but it was far to long. Instead I will be delivering it in two posts. Today is kinda a basic rundown, tomorrow will be more how to.


Goggle “Cellaring Beer” and you’ll easily get 10 articles on various blogs and websites, all of them the one written by Angie Rayfield, and for the most part useless. Go ahead, google it yourself. If you happen to choose the beeradvocate one where they quote Angie Rayfield word for word oftentimes you will also happen to find a list of reasons why storing beer sideways is silly. The point of this is it does me no good to quote Angie. This is especially true since she’s copyrighted the article and I don’t want to touch that. Instead I’ve decided I have to be unique and maybe even knock her article around a bit. After all there is no be all end all source on beer storage since it is more art then science. At least for now it is.

The reason beer storage hasn’t reached the realm of science you see with wines is that for the most part there’s no need. Most beers are best if consumed under the 1 year mark. Hoppy beers like pale ales shouldn’t even age at all. Secondly beer cellaring was until modern times just something that was done. Before refrigeration beer was often stored in the basement or cellar until someone wanted to tap the cask or open a bottle. Beers generally weren’t laid down to cellar for long times like wines. Also cellaring was treated as part of the fermentation process often times. If you had a sour ale you were laying down it was treated as you allowing the bacteria to do it’s job, not giving the flavors time to reach harmony.

Even with all the things going against beer cellaring proper long term storage has become a big thing, and big money. Prices for some properly aged barlywines in the 10 year old range are in the hundreds per a bottle at auctions. This is what’s turning the aging of craft beer from just something that happens, to something worth doing. And while your homebrewed 12% abv barleywine won’t command amazing prices if it’s aged, ageing is still a useful tool in the homebrewers arsenal.

from theweeklybrew