Drinking an 18-Year-Old Barleywine, or (The Effects of Aging Beer)

Anyone that is into properly aged beer, whether they dabbled with a 6-month-old stout or curate a beer cellar going back decades, can tell you the exact beer that started it all for them. For me, it was a 2009 Avery Mephistopheles I drank in 2012. The velvety mouth feel, mellowed booze, smoothed out bitterness, and heightened caramel made it a near perfect experience.

Since then, I’ve cultivated a small, but hand-picked, group of beers that I look forward to diving into soon, because really what’s the point of aging beer if they’re just going to be unearthed in the year 2145 by the roving hordes of Lord Humongous and converted to fuel. I intend to enjoy them while civilization and I still stand.

With that in mind, I delve deeper into my hobby of not drinking beer and secluding it in the dark like Paul Dano in Prisoners, and turn to the studies of smarter men than me to determine just what is going on inside that bottle. To apply this knowledge, I also drink an 18-year-old Barleywine to taste nearly two decades worth of science. Here’s what I found.

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Keeping Beer – The Cellar Way

21As 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.

Continue reading “Keeping Beer – The Cellar Way”