To The Beer Cave!

August 26, 2008


Since man first began brewing, he has tried to find ways to keep his beer from spoiling too quickly.  The more you can brew at one time, the less time you need to spend brewing.  This was important when every home brewed its own beer because the local water supply was somewhere between suspicious and rancid.  Also, the yeast in beer only lives between certain temperatures, so without refrigeration, brewing during the summer was impossible.

We can thank our innovative ancestors for the various styles we drink today, some of which will improve with age.  Anything that is bottle conditioned (you can see a small layer of yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle) will usually evolve with time.  By storing your beer upright in a cool, dark, and somewhat humid space, the yeast left in the bottle will continue to slowly feed; and the flavors will continue to meld.  Also, the hops will mellow over time, so aging isn’t always ideal for hop bombs or fresh hop beers.  Barleywines, imperial stouts and porters, old ales, and lambics are all ideal candidates for cellaring.  Some beers will hit their peak at 3-4 years, others will continue to improve as long as their caps survive and don’t allow in any oxygen.

This is a hobby that requires great patience and attention, you can’t obsess about all the good stuff you’ve hidden under the stairs.  This winter, try buying some of these stronger beers and hide a portion away.  After 2-3 years, you can start pulling some out of the cellar to enjoy while you keep adding more to your stash.

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