Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Art of Cellaring Beer

A good many beer enthusiasts get into the habit of cellaring beer, which can be a great way to learn how to smooth out flavors over time. But in doing so, a person has to know the right kid of beers to cellar. For instance, a common rule is to choose beers that are at least 8% ABV. But, that is only a baseline as it should also be the right kind of beer. For instance, hop heavy beers such as IPA's will lose some of their bitterness over time and although they will be drinkable, they won't most likely be the expected taste that is desired.  But, cellaring more malty and lower IBU beers can create a more distinct taste as the flavors open up over time. For instance, here is one of the beers that I have cellared recently:

As indicated Voodoo Vator over time becomes much more smoother and in fact, the taste of the alcohol was lessened even more then when fresh. So what should you know about cellaring?

  1. The beer should be a minimum of 8% ABV as a general rule. Although, I have done slightly lower and been okay. Only trying and tasting will let you know what to expect.
  2. Make sure you choose a comfortable temperature. Usually, this may be the coolest place in the house and commonly this is the basement. But some will even use back-up refrigerators. I, myself, use a cool area in the basement.
  3. Store the bottles in darkness and upright. There is no need to place bottles on their side, this is beer not wine. The ultimate goal is to keep them out of the light and sealed away to avoid oxidation. So if you buy a case, like I do, then leave them in the boxes. Get what you need and then close them back up.
  4. Don't mess around and use brown. As I mentioned, you want to keep the light out, so it is best to use brown bottles. Often you see green, but they are not as good and can potentially skunk your beer.
  5. Know how your beer tastes before cellaring. If you don't drink one fresh then how can you compare if the beer improves?
  6. Understand there may be no change. There is no guarantee that the beers will get better with age, so know that going in and don't become frustrated. You may have some that stay the same, but you will be pleasantly pleased at some point as well.
  7. It's only your opinion that counts.
These are just a few things to keep in mind and I hope you do decide to adventure out into the cellaring world. With some of the great things being done with  craft beer, it is definitely worth giving it a try.

Cheers and Happy Drinking!

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