Evening lovely peeps
I’m going to set the scene for you. I’m currently sat on my couch, listening to some vinyl with a, particularly, sour ale in hand. No, not because I’m a MASSIVE hipster (you have to embrace these kinda things) but because of tonights feature.
Welcome to the third instalment from our resident beer aficionado @beerindigo. With each post in this series you lucky, lucky folks get to learn about the amber nectar OR in some cases green nectar, red nectar etc. You’ll get that when you scroll further down 👇
Shane knows what he’s talking about and tonight he gives us/you/everyone his thoughts on which beers to drink fresh and which to age. I bet you thought that wine cellars were just for wine?? Well, think again…
So, it’s time to sit back, relax and crack open a “craft” one as we delve deep into the mind of Shane aka @beerindigo on the subject of storing & ageing beer.
WHEN TO BREW AND WHEN NOT TO BREW
Before we get started let me say that this discussion has been a pleasure and I invite anybody with questions or comments to join in by sending me direct messages on Instagram at my personal account @beerindigo.
Let’s talk a little about what type of beer is better fresh versus aged.
If a beer is designed with hops as the dominant contributor to the flavor profile it should be more enjoyable to drink it as fresh as possible. Buying IPAs (India Pale Ales), or any hop forward beer from a distributer can be extremely disappointing if you do not know how long it has been sitting on the shelf. Always look for a canned or bottled date on this style of beer. Remember to check the underside of a can as it is becoming more popular for crafters to date their beer. I try not to buy hoppy beer that was canned more than a month ago. I always keep hoppy style beer cold in my fridge and I drink it as fresh as possible. There can be exceptions to these guidelines when it comes to more experimental ingredients. I bought a few sour IPAs that tasted decent when fresh but after about 6 months sitting forgotten in my fridge they had improved tremendously. Heavily fruited beer should always be kept cold and expect the fruit flavors to fade with time.
Not every beer will age well, even in the best of storage conditions. In most cases a beer will become softer and more complex when properly aged, not all beers are better this way though. I can’t tell you which beers you should age as every palate is different. Experimenting is part of the fun and mystery. I can tell you what I personally do. I typically age sour beers, Belgians, dark beer (Such as stouts and porters), barleywines and some other beers with high alcohol content.
As far as how long you should age beer, well it’s all trial and error. Keep tasting beer from your cellar and keep good notes to determine the prime age of each beer or style. I recommend marking your beer with the year you added it. Have an annual beer share with some close friends and taste some awesome beers!
Before I started my cellar I was storing beer in a pantry in my kitchen. This led to some pretty disgusting beers after a year or two. While they were kept dark, the temp in my house is too warm to keep beer properly aging. The ideal temp range for a cellar is commonly somewhere between 50-60F. My cellar stays 50F in the winter and creeps up towards 60F in the hot summer months. I have not experienced any issues within this temperature range. I keep my shelves away from windows and in a dark corner. I leave the light bulb unscrewed nearby since I spend a lot of time in my basement.
I store my lambic on an angle (almost sideways). My American sour beer is stored upright as well as my non-sour beer. Many lambic brewers store their bottles on the side. I do this simply out of respect for the style and tradition but many people store it upright without any known impact on the beer. A couple theories on the angled storage are; it keeps the cork from drying out, it creates a larger surface area which may promote funk type flavors (desirable to some) and it makes storage easier because bottles stack higher. Most modern corks are made from a synthetic material that no longer needs moisture to hold up.
I have only been cellaring beer for a few years, I am no expert. I use the word cellar but my cellar isn’t much more than a set of heavy duty shelves tucked away in a dark corner of my cold basement. I have done a lot of research and while I encourage you to do the same, maybe you will find some of this information useful or just an entertaining read. Cheers!
What a guy! Shane you diamond, man. Thanks for taking the time, as always, and I personally took a lot away from this post. Although, it’s very rare that I am able to resist drinking my craft choices as soon as I get home, from the shops! I shall invest in a few to store though and keep you updated with my findings bro. Top stuff!
I’m sure that I’m not the only one that took a lot from Shane’s write-up? Hit us up in the comments with any findings you’ve had regards ‘fresh vs brewed’. Plus, stay tuned into our various feeds and the website for ALL clobber-calm goings on ✌️
Peace. Drink responsibly.