As an avid cellarer (fun word!) this is an informative article on craftbeer.com that goes over the ins and outs of cellaring. I can say from experience that a properly aged beer can yield spectacular results you won’t soon forget. Ever since I tried a three-year-old Avery Mephistopheles in 2012, I’ve been chasing that dragon and aging 15-20 beers in hopes of getting an experience that is half as good. I know this is paltry compared to the 100’s of beers that others age, but I’m pretty selective and most times I can only get a limited quantity of a beer that I think is worth keeping around.
I probably won’t dip into the fruits of my patience until 2015 when my dad retires (a 2012 Dark Lord and 2012 Parabola), but it’ll be worth the wait. I still need to update the Beer Cellar section of DBR with the full roster, but my collection is comprised of mostly higher ABV barley wines, imperial stouts, and wild/sour beers.
A few key points:
- I’m a proponent of the buy two, drink one. In the big beer world of high demand/low quantity you don’t always have that luxury. If you can only get one, drink it. There’s no point in aging a beer if you don’t know what it tastes like fresh.
- Generally speaking, you shouldn’t age an IPA. If you do for some reason, keep it refrigerated to slow the aging process to a crawl.
- High ABV stouts, sours, and barley wines seem to benefit the most from aging. Be careful of a beer’s sweetness as that will only increase and can easily become cloying
- Keep cellared beers in the dark at around 50°-60°F and preferably in a place where you’ll forget about them.
- As taken from the article, here is a list of what you can expect from an aged beer:
- Fruity and floral esters
- Ribes (cat urine quality due to air headspace in the bottle)
- Wet paper/cardboard character
- Bready character
- Sweetness (toffee/honey)
- Metallic character
- Earthy character
- Straw character
- Woody character
- Vinuous character (wine/sherry/stale fruit)
- Meaty-like/brothy flavors can develop