The guide to collecting and aging beer
Just to be clear, no beer needs to be aged. In fact, lots of beer shouldn’t be. Still, some finely crafted beverages out there can develop over time and really display different characteristics when you decide to crack them open. You may be well on your way to enjoying come cellared wonders, but if you aren’t, and want to get started, here are a few tips.
WHAT TO SAVE & WHAT NOT TO
Figuring out which bottles will be worth stashing away is the first step to starting your cellar. Generally, big, malty, dark beers work well. Have some bomb of a stout you just picked up, it can mellow out over time allowing different characteristics of the beer to shine through. Shoot for brews over 8% ABV.
Barleywines are usually great for aging as well as sours/wild ales/lambics.
Beers that happen to be bottle-conditioned – beers naturally carbonated in the bottles thanks to yeast and residual or added sugar – can work because the profile of the beer will obviously evolve over time.
Hop-forward beers usually don’t age well. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, IPAs, pale ales and others will lose some of that delicious hoppiness as time goes by. This goes for hop-centric stouts or other styles as well where the hops impart serious aroma, bitterness or overall character to the beer.
Also keep in mind the alcohol content of the beer. For the most part, weaker beers are not ideal for long periods of aging.
Watch out for beers that have added flavor from fruits, spices or other additions as a lot of those components of the beer’s profile will fade with time.
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