Beer Chronicles – Bottle aging


NPR recently ran a story on aged beers and how it is the latest trend among aficionados of craft beer. I’ve been thinking for a while about buying a few bottles of my favorites, aging them for 8-12 months, and seeing what happens.

I had two basic criteria in mind when choosing bottles to age. The first was that the beers of choice needed to be higher in alcohol content. Boozy beers tend to age better than beers that depend upon freshness. Cellaring a barleywine = a good idea. Cellaring a double IPA = a not-so-great idea. The second criteria was that all of the cellared beers had to be beers that I had tried “new” so that I had a good baseline for comparison between the cellared and the non-cellared beer.

After the jump you can find a picture of the six beers that made the trip down into my cellar this time around.


From left to right above: Anchor Christmas Ale (2014), North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale (2014), Lagunitas Brown Shugga, Old Foghorn Barleywine, Free State Old Backus Barleywine, and Ommegang Adoration Ale.

Three of the above beers (Brown Shugga’, Old Foghorn, and Old Backus) are barleywine ales. Barleywines usually begin in vicinity of 9-10% abv and go up from there. They are perfect candidates for cellaring and I’m excited to see what becomes of them after an 8-12 month nap.

The North Coast Old Stock Ale is what they company calls and “old style ale,” but it is probably as close to a barleywine as anything else. The abv is 12% and the company brews it with the expectation that people will set it aside for a year (or more) to let the flavors blend and mellow. I’m really excited to see how this one behaves as North Coast Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries.

The final two beers in the six (the Ommegang and the Anchor Christmas Ale) were chosen not so much for their high alcohol content (although the Ommegang clocks in at 10% abv) but rather because I couldn’t bear the thought of no Adoration and no Anchor Christmas until next winter. I’ve fallen head over heels for both of these beers and wanted to keep one of each on hand. Therefore, these will probably be the first two to be un-cellared, most likely during a lazy summer night in July or August.

So that’s what going on in my cellar. If you are interested in more information about how to properly choose and cellar beer, this is a fantastic article on the topic from the Draft Magazine web site.


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