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Aging Beer?
Old 04-07-2014, 12:27 PM   #1
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Aging Beer?

I know we have a number of home brewers here so I thought I might ask about an article I recently read in the WSJ (4/4/14).

I have always heard that beer is best consumed while fresh and that beer does not age well, unlike wine and cheese. But, this article indicates that some beers do age well and adopt decidely different characteristics after a few years of proper storage. I am wondering what the home brewers think of this and if they have aged any beer.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...EYWORDS%3Dbeer
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:38 PM   #2
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There are a few beers that age well, generally the bigger, more complex ones. I used to buy Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and intentionally lose it in the cooler for at least a year. Mostly, though, I don't care for the heavily sherried flavors that develop in a lot of cases.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:52 PM   #3
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I actually had a couple cases of home brew (a medium dark brown ale IIRC) that got lost in the shuffle around our house and spent about 4 years in our utility room (which also includes our furnace).

When I first found them I thought they were a lost cause, but decided to try some anyway. They were fine. That said, when it comes to beer, I'm not particularly discriminating - I'm pretty happy with any cold beer.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:57 PM   #4
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The article captured it pretty well. Only some specific styles can be expected to improve with age. One of the guys in our club brews a lot of (intentionally) sour beers, often barrel aged, and these take a year or so to 'develop'.

One of the guys in our club discovered another keg of a beer the club brewed almost a decade ago. A strong Russian Imperial Stout style, intentionally soured and flavored with vanilla and bourbon soaked oak chips. It's among the best beers I've ever tasted - pours and looks like old motor oil!

For a relatively inexpensive shot at this, pick up a couple bottles of Trader Joe's 'Vintage Ale' (you might still find their 2013 on the shelf). Those typically age pretty well over a year. But next year's brew will probably be noticeably different, so you would need to take notes and compare to a 2013 bottle opened a year from now, rather than comparing to a 'fresh' 2014 vintage.

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Old 04-07-2014, 02:04 PM   #5
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I can't speak to years but over a 6to9 month period, I have had some of my homebrews that have improved dramatically in terms of their flavor. I don't know why some seem to continue to improve and some don't. I never had a beer that lost flavor except one contaminated batch but that is a whole other problem.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:39 PM   #6
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I can't speak to years but over a 6to9 month period, I have had some of my homebrews that have improved dramatically in terms of their flavor. I don't know why some seem to continue to improve and some don't. I never had a beer that lost flavor except one contaminated batch but that is a whole other problem.
Yes, 6-9 months is a different thing than years. Over months, yeast and other stuff can settle out, certain flavors seem to mellow or blend.

In general the hoppy beers are better fresh, but I had one where the hops had a sort of coarse flavor. I just figured it wasn't one of my better attempts. But at about the 6 month mark, the coarse aspect mellowed out, and the other hop flavors were still there, and it really was quite good (IMO). Unfortunately, it was almost gone as I wanted to drink it fresh. Oh well.

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Old 04-07-2014, 03:35 PM   #7
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aging, what is this aging?

No aging for these:
Stone Enjoy By IPA
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:54 PM   #8
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aging, what is this aging?
I'd never heard of it either. At least in my experience beer just evaporates if you don't drink it right away.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:26 PM   #9
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Nothing longer than 6 months with any of my beers and that is only for bigger beers. I do a Belgian Trippel every year that I let sit for 6 months before opening up a bottle. Everything else goes directly in cornies and 5 days later in my glass!!!
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:43 PM   #10
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I could. ever let a beer age for more than 48 hours. Sorry......something about collecting dust on a beer bottle that is sacrolegious.
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:59 PM   #11
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Some beer advertises itself as getting better with age. Utenos Porter from Lithuania is one such beer. I picked up a couple cases of this stuff. Very thick and sweet, with modest hop presence, a little bit vinous, and yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle. I can't find any "sell by" date on it anywhere, but a lot of the bottles are very dusty around the bottle cap, for some reason. Tastes good to me (not the dust, the beer).
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:43 PM   #12
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I brew IPA's, Pale Ales, wheats in the spring and summer, stouts and porters in the fall and winter.

Anything I brew that's dry hopped (IPA's and some pale ales) IMO taste the best about 4 weeks after brewing, or one week after kegging. I generally do a two week primary fermentation, followed by a one week dry hop in the secondary, cold crash, and then keg. I find that the longer these sit, the less benefit I get from the dry hopping.

On the other hand, my stouts and porters are best after they have aged a while. I generally do a 3 week primary fermentation on my stouts and then keg. But the stout definitely tastes roaster and maltier (and better) and thicker after a couple of months conditioning in the keg. I do a big porter with Jack Daniels soaked vanilla beans in the secondary. I have had the most recent batch in the kegerator since early November after brewing in September, and it's at its best now. The vanilla and hint of Jack become more pronounced the longer it sits. I have another keg of the porter, (also brewed in September) conditioning in the garage to move to the kegerator when this one goes empty. I may leave this next one sit until the holidays, making it about 14 months between brew date and serving date. It will be interesting to see how it is.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:29 PM   #13
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I brew IPA's, Pale Ales, wheats in the spring and summer, stouts and porters in the fall and winter.

Anything I brew that's dry hopped (IPA's and some pale ales) IMO taste the best about 4 weeks after brewing, or one week after kegging. I generally do a two week primary fermentation, followed by a one week dry hop in the secondary, cold crash, and then keg. I find that the longer these sit, the less benefit I get from the dry hopping.
Try dry hopping in the keg. Toss half an ounce to an ounce of whole hops into a muslin grain/hop sack, tie it shut, throw it in the keg and rack your beer in. I usually pour some boiling water over the sack before I put the hops I it. Give it 2 or 3 weeks before tapping. The dry hop character does not fade.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:38 PM   #14
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Try dry hopping in the keg. Toss half an ounce to an ounce of whole hops into a muslin grain/hop sack, tie it shut, throw it in the keg and rack your beer in. I usually pour some boiling water over the sack before I put the hops I it. Give it 2 or 3 weeks before tapping. The dry hop character does not fade.

Thanks for the tip. I'm brewing tomorrow, and I'll give it a try. I just need to get to the brew shop to get some whole hops and hop sack before the dry hop. I've heard of some brewers that suspend the hop sack in the middle of the keg using thread, dental floss, fishing line of whatever tied to the bag and held in place by tying the line to the keg lid. I guess they do this to prevent the hop sack from blocking the beer line out.

Why do you pour boiling water in the hop sack? Sanitation?
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:08 PM   #15
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Yep, sanitation. Hops are naturally anti bacterial but the muslin is not.

I frequently dry hop even with pellets in the keg inside a sack and it works fine.

Once in a blue moon I will get the hopsack caught in the draw tube, but it just makes the beer flow slower. No biggie.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:10 PM   #16
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Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:15 AM   #17
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... I've heard of some brewers that suspend the hop sack in the middle of the keg using thread, dental floss, fishing line of whatever tied to the bag and held in place by tying the line to the keg lid. I guess they do this to prevent the hop sack from blocking the beer line out.

...
Two reasons, to avoid potential blockage as you said, and also, after pulling X pints, the beer level drops and the hops are hanging above the liquid line.

Some people want to avoid having the hops sitting in the beer for as long as it might take to empty the keg. I'm not sure if/when that can become a problem, but it is a 'free' secondary possible benefit. Hang 'em high to limit total exposure time, lower to give a longer exposure time.

I've become a big fan of keg hopping my APA/IPAs. I'm now 'kegging' with those Tap-A-Draft 6L jugs and my own simple tap adapter design. So I can brew a 5 gallon batch, fill 3 of those jugs, and keg hop each differently if I want. And then blending them when I pour gives me even more variations.

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Aging Beer?
Old 04-08-2014, 07:06 PM   #18
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Aging Beer?

Thanks - I never thought about hanging it high or low to set a point in time where the hops would no longer be affecting the beer.

I brewed 2 - 5 gallon batches today. One will spend 2-3 weeks in a primary, then to a keg for dry hopping, then serving.

The 2nd batch will be sitting for about 6 weeks before tapping. So I need to figure out a fermentation/keg/dry hop schedule that will yield the best results 6 weeks out.
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:19 PM   #19
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We have a place near me that brews sour beer. It is really good but is more like wine tasting than beer.

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Old 04-08-2014, 08:27 PM   #20
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Thanks - I never thought about hanging it high or low to set a point in time where the hops would no longer be affecting the beer.

I brewed 2 - 5 gallon batches today. One will spend 2-3 weeks in a primary, then to a keg for dry hopping, then serving.

The 2nd batch will be sitting for about 6 weeks before tapping. So I need to figure out a fermentation/keg/dry hop schedule that will yield the best results 6 weeks out.

I just toss em in and don't worry about it. 3+ months later I still have lovely dry hop aroma with no ill effects. If you have not, try brewing a special bitter and dry hopping in the keg with Goldings (*swoon*), Fuggles, or Glacier. As close to London as you will get without getting on a plane.
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