Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Aging beer in bottles…

By William Brand
Friday, December 1st, 2006 at 10:39 am in Uncategorized.

Hi Bill. I enjoy the column. You have mentioned several beers that that should mature for a year or more. What conditions does the beer need to mature properly?
Charles, Walnut Creek, CA.

Hi Charles. Experts suggest a temperature around 55-50 degrees, although I keep my old beer in a small refrigerator set at around 40. Basically, if the bottle is corked, store it on its side and treat it like wine, turning it once in a while. If it’s capped, it should be stored upright.

Of course, most beers are meant to be drunk fresh. The kind to keep are strong, bottled conditioned beers – a bit of fresh yeast added to each bottle as a preservative, which allows the beer to continue to ferment very slowly – like barleywines and other strong beers of various kinds. But I also keep some unusual, pasteurized beers for a while. For instance, I have a selection of Anchor Our Special Ale going back 6 or 7 years. I find that a bit of age allows the elements of the beer to blend in a harmonious fashion. Hops mellow. Spices that once were strong, lose their bite.

That’s the reason I age Anchor. I don’t like the spices as much as the underlying beer. Finally, here’s a link I found on the web. It’s about wine, but the same information applies to beer.

Oh yes – what beers to age. I have a few favorites;

I’ve got several bottes of Westvleteren Tripel, the Belgian Trappist Ale; some Three Philosophers from Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY, a couple of gold-medal-winning barleywines from Schooner’s Brewery & Grille, in Antioch, CA. and an Edition 2005 and an Edition 2004 from Unibroue in Canada. Also, a few bottles of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from 2002-2005. Also a Lagunitas Gnarleywine from 2000 and a Brooklyn Brewing Monster from 2000.

Again, the question is: What do you like? Is it strong and sweet and bottle-conditioned? Save a bottle. A lot of people save Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter, which mellows and ages into something quite amazing. I wrote about a vertical tasting of several vintages of Smoked Porter in October. You can find the posting by clicking on September, go to Sept. 29.

Best. b.

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