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Good idea BAD idea!

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David Baldwin

NewBee
Registered Member
Jun 29, 2004
860
1
0
Grand Rapids, MI
Ok, so theoretically I KNEW that beer has a shelf life.

Well, last year I bought a case of really good local craft beer, and intended to send a 4-pack to my brother for Christmas. Well, I never got around to sending it on, and then he decided to move from California to Michigan so I just held onto it.

It has been sitting in a cool quiet dark corner of my basement since late last November.


Note to self: Drink the beer, and age the mead... ;D



David
 

briankettering

NewBee
Registered Member
Jun 2, 2005
174
0
0
I still have beers sitting in their cases from a couple of years ago. It is amazing how all of the flavors and aromas blend and mature.

Brian K
 

byathread

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 8, 2005
644
0
0
Boulder County, CO
I've tasted some truly wonderful 5 year old barleywines, including side-by-side comparisons of 1, 3 and 5 year old Big Foots (Sierra Nevada). My favorite was a 4 or 5 year old Old Foghorn from Anchor.

On the other hand, I've tasted brews that lived past their prime. Even the '99 Big Foot was starting to turn the corner. It was pleasantly oxidized but I think it would have been less pleasant another year down the road.
 

Brewboy

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 7, 2005
41
0
0
57
Green Bay
I think the idea of a "shelf life" depends greatly on a) what type of beer it is, and b) how it's handled/stored.

Personally, I've tasted good (and bad) fresh beers, and great (and horrible)aged beers. One "big" beer that I brewed made it to the 2nd place Best of Show in a local competition. It was only 21 months old (18 months in the bottle.)

I still have 8 bottles of it left. I am jealously hoarding it.

I also have 1 bottle of an Old Ale, bottled 11/3/01. This was my third batch that I ever brewed. I'm not sure when I will open that, or what it will be like...but I'm a little scared.
 

uncleflip

NewBee
Registered Member
Aug 27, 2009
23
0
0
Birmingham, AL, USA
My favorite was a 4 or 5 year old Old Foghorn from Anchor.
That is definitely still good stuff after a year or two.

Just the other night, I had a 2005 Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster. Still quite good! Different, but good!

Right now, Im cellaring:
SN Bigfoot (every year since 2006)
Stone Old Guardian (every year since 2005)
Three Floyds Behemoth Blond Barleywine (every year since 2005)
Three Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout (every year sice 2006)

I'm also putting back some Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout (Wake & Bake), but I'm not really formally cellaring that. I just kind forgot I had them, and am now looking to see how well it holds up.

Be well
-UF
 

STLBrewer

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 13, 2009
173
0
0
St. Louis, MO
There are a few other things to consider where aging beer is concerned.

You need to remember that, in most cases, the higher the alcohol % of the beer, the better it will age. Different types of beer age differently...it's that simple. Most Lagers don't age well (in my exprience) past 6 months and almost every low alcohol beer that I have had was pretty much junk after 3 - 4 months.

Also, the style of beer needs to lend itself to aging...for example, a Barleywine ages really well since there are supposed to be "dark fruit" flavors in that style of beer that naturally occur with aging (thank you, oxidization!). However, you may not like the result if you take an "Imperial Wheat" (read that high ABV Wheat beer...almost a Wheatwine, if you will) and age it for an equal amount of time.

Another example is Russian Imperial Stouts...they mellow and change (often for the better) with age.

So age with caution and you may be rewarded with some great beer cellar finds after a few years!!

There are others on here that have more knowledge about aging beer, I am sure...so hopefully they will lend their opinions and thoughts about this as well!!
 

akueck

Certified Mead Mentor
Certified Mead Mentor
Jun 26, 2006
4,958
10
0
Ithaca, NY
My last brown beer (4ish%) went out to a year before it started to taste a little off, and even at almost 1.5 years was still not so bad. I often wind up with a bottle or two that hangs around for a year, and every beer I've made so far is ok at that point, but usually not so much after that. I'm not sure if it's just oxidation or not, but they pick up a kind of cardboardy old yeast flavor. Cardboard is certainly oxygen, and I'm guessing the yeasty part is from bottle conditioning (autolysis?). Beers I bottle cleaner tend to last longer in that regard, but one year has been a good rule of thumb for me.
 

David Baldwin

NewBee
Registered Member
Jun 29, 2004
860
1
0
Grand Rapids, MI
A change of heart.

It's interesting almost 4 years after I started this thread that I have an update and a change of heart on the matter.

The beer in question is a seasonal brew called Dragons Milk by New Holland Brewery. It is the closest thing I have found to my favorite dark beer from Bavaria.

Of that 4 pack I accidentally aged, two bottles were good and two were way off. Now 4 years later we have bought a case each year and aged most of it. Each batch has aged very differently. One year was WAY over carbonated, but each has aged fairly well. I haven't had any serious disappointments since that first batch.

This beer is definitely a high gravity beer and very bold. I am finding that as much as I like it fresh, I do prefer it aged. I am anxiously waiting for this years release.
 
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