Aging a beer is a little like enjoying music. You either chase the newest release, or you stick to the classics. Some like bass, some like treble, and some just love to sing kumbaya. But no matter what your taste, there is one thing that we can all agree on; and that’s the love of better beer. So we’ve devised your step-by-step guide on how to age your beer.
First things first:
There are a few things you need to look for. For starters, look for brews that have been ‘bottle-conditioned’. The active yeast will continue to ferment the beer as long as you store it, lending it new and exciting flavours.
A hoppy or seasonal beer that takes advantage of fresh ingredients should stay that way. Hops fade with time, so drink your favourite seasonal beer, IPAs, or any other hop forward beer as soon as you get home.
High-alcohol beers tend to age better. Look for a brew with an ABV of 8-10% or higher. Typically, higher percent beers are so complex that some amount of age will take off the sharper edges and you will get a velvety finish.
Now with all of this in mind, you’re ready to get started. We recommend you try aging your favourite Stout or Barley Wine. Try our: Cocoa Loco Chocolate Imperial Stout or 2014 Barley Wine (available at our brewery, and all great liquor stores).
How to store it:
- Find the right spot. A dark cool area that’s kept around 10-12 degrees Celsius. This prevents the heat or light from degrading your beer and turning it into skunk water.
- Store your bottles upright. Most beers are capped with a crown bottle cap, which has a plastic lining that protects the beer from the metal. If you store a beer on its side, the beer will eat away that lining over time, and eventually spoil the beer.
- Keep track of when you put it into storage, and drink your beer at its prime.
How long should you age your beer?
This is the fun part, but it’s also an exercise in restraint. For starters, we recommend buying 4-6 bombers of the same beer. Try one when you get home, one in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. Make it your special occasion beer. Commit to drinking one of your bottles every Canada Day for as long as they last for instance. And always remember to invite the homies.
Flavours to expect:
Although every beer is different, here is a quick look at what you can expect to happen over time:
- Harshness increases
- Alcohol sharpness decrease
- Fruity and floral esters decrease
- Catty/blackcurrant character increase
- Bready character increases
- Sweetness (toffee/honey) increases
- Caramel flavours increase
- Earthy character increases
- Straw character increases
- Woody character increases
- Wine/sherry/stale fruit flavours increases
- Meaty-like/broth flavours can develop
Just like a good 24-hour marinade gives you the meat sweats, by the time you’re ready to crack your first aged brew, you’ll be salivating with the beer sweats. Believe us when we say, it’s worth the wait.