A common discussion amongst beer enthusiasts is how long to cellar a beer. Beer nerds enjoy collecting rare releases, as many as possible, and often don’t want to drink them immediately. In some cases, this effects a beer in a positive way, in others, it can be detrimental. So the question is, which beers cellar well and which should be enjoyed immediately?
Several factors contribute to how your beer will age. First, style. Generally beers with a high abv (7% or higher) will age better than lower abv beers. Light, as we have discussed before, can cause beers to get skunkier, so the less light the better. Third is temperature, which effects the speed of the aging process. The hotter it is, the faster it ages. Keep your beer cold, but not frozen, to keep it fresh longer. The last factor is movement, which agitates the beer and causes oxidation.
- Bitterness decreases
- Harshness increases
- Fruity and floral esters decrease
- Ribes (catty/black currant character) increase
- Wet paper/cardboard character increases
- Bready character increases
- Sweetness (toffee/honey) increases
- Metallic character increases
- Earthy character increases
- Straw character increases
- Woody character increases
- Vinuous character (wine/sherry/stale fruit) increases
- Meaty-like/brothy flavors can develop
IPAs, along with any other hop forward beers, should not be aged as the bitter, floral and citrus flavors fade over time. The same can be said for many types of seasonal and fruit beers as well.
Remember one key point when aging your beer, it won’t spoil. It won’t make you sick like an old carton of milk, however the way in which it ages may not be pleasant. While there are some beers that tend to age better than others based on the way they were originally brewed, it’s ultimately all about your palate and the tastes you prefer. So buy a six pack, drink some, age some, and see what your taste buds enjoy.