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Aging Beers -- I'm REALLY Confused Right Now

So I just cracked open a 1L bottle of Janet’s Brown that I brewed on Feb 5th 2012. After fermentation and dry hopping, It went into my keg fridge until St. Patricks day (March 17th). Since then, nearly five weeks, the bottle sat warm (65-75F) at my office.

I never liked this batch much, thought it tasted a bit harsh and grassy, so I gave out bottles as St. Patrick’s Day favors.

Decided to bring this last bottle home after “office aging” for five weeks and WOW, it is absolutely phenomenal. It’s balanced, hoppy as all hell, and has a great centennial character that I did not get before.

Sooo what gives? This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about aging beer and especially hoppy beers.

It’s only a couple months old, I wouldn’t really call that aging. Sometimes a bigger beer like this takes more time to develop, even if it’s hoppy.

Well, almost three at this point. But what I’ve always thought is that, especially a hoppy beer, you want to drink it practically out of the fermenter. “Once it’s clear, it’s good to drink” sort of deal.

What about commercial brewers? Something like Stone Ruination, it has a bottle date, but not a date it was brewed. I can’t imagine it sits around the brewery long before it’s sold.

you know, I don’t get it either. But if I can wait about two or three weeks, than ANY beer I brew will be better. warm or cold, kegged or bottled. It might be only my perception but the first taste is always the most critical AND always the most misled. If I forget about that beer far a few weeks than try it again, I almost always fall in love with it.

Harsh and Grassy are term to describe the hops. Sounds like it just needed time to meld the flavors. Warming back up helped these flavors meld more quickly.

I can’ think of one beer I have ever brewed in my life that was better at 4-6 weeks than it was at 8-12 weeks. I don’t consider an 8-12 week old beer “aged”. I try to not drink any of my beer until it is close to 8 weeks old - or longer depending on style.

[quote=“alanzo”]…Decided to bring this last bottle home after “office aging” for five weeks and WOW, it is absolutely phenomenal. It’s balanced, hoppy as all hell, and has a great centennial character that I did not get before.
Sooo what gives? This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about aging beer and especially hoppy beers.[/quote]

Congrats of this discovery. I learned the same thing — very much in the same way— quite a few years ago.

Time is your friend. Aside from some of the ‘ordinary bitter’ or ‘milds’ I make, I rarely touch most other types until they’ve got at least 8-15 weeks on them (except in those rare instances where the stocks are running low :cry: . )
And my stronger brews get left alone for even longer, like 6 to 12 months…and that includes a fantastically bitter and aromatic IPA, contrary to the current fashion for drinking them young.

Today’s palates have grown accustomed to the flavors in younger less matured beers, enjoying the sharper and less refined edges that some such brews exhibit.
And there’s nothing at all wrong with that, if that’s what you like.
Also, there’'s the obvious fact that homebrewers can often be a very impatient lot.

But some of the commercial “craft” brewers (at least the ones that an afford the tank or barrel space) seem to be picking up on something that even the big brewers knew 50+ years ago…that a well made and properly aged brew can be a very wonderful and nuanced thing.

Alanzo,

I was glad to read your post and the replies. I’ve pondered this very thing many times. I’ve read at least 8 homebrewing books, hundreds of forum posts on this and other sites, and even spoken with the brewmasters of brew pubs I’ve visited. I’ve yet to get a description of what aging does to beer that makes any sense. That said, it absolutely does improve over the weeks and months. My most recent mexican mocha stout tasted thin, almost watered down after forced carbonation in the keg for a week. The head and carbonation were fine, it just tasted… uninteresting. After focusing on my weizen bock and pale ale to the point of empty kegs, I finally returned to what I thought was a failed attempt at infusing Mexican choclate into a stout. It had been at least a month when a pulled a few ounces on my back porch. Much to my suprise it was creamy and bittersweet with the hint of choclate and cinimon that I intended when I added the Mexican choclate. I can’t explain it. It just is. And I am glad of it!!! Have patience and enjoy!!!

Nobody on here asked the obvious question…

How pissed are you now that you gave these away thinking it was going to be a sub-par brew?

:smiley:

[quote=“dbarton02”]Nobody on here asked the obvious question…

How pissed are you now that you gave these away thinking it was going to be a sub-par brew?

:smiley: [/quote]

Had this problem. Brewed a Vienna Calypso IPA with heavy late hopbursting. The first few weeks in the keg I thought it had an astringency problem, but later read that certain hops don’t lend well to late heavy additions. I think this was my problem because the last few pints out of the keg were fantastic… after it had aged a little while. I was kicking myself for not letting the keg sit longer in the beginning. So I say, even some hoppy beers can benefit from a little aging.

I know a lot of people think the secondary fermenter is pointless. I’m doing the Belgian Tripel right now, which is one scheduled to take three months going by the book. Is bottle aging after the primary fermenter better than secondary fermenter aging, and if so, why?

In my limited experience, hops flavors (including bitterness) do mellow with time. If it starts off harsh and grassy, it makes sense to me that further conditioning would lead to those qualities mellowing out to reveal the more desirable/intended flavors of the hops that were used. For a super hoppy IPA or DIPA I can imagine wanting to let it age a little longer to let potential harsh/grassy flavors mellow. For something more along the lines of a pale ale, where the hops are prominent but not overpowering, young seems to work well.

[quote=“dbarton02”]Nobody on here asked the obvious question…

How pissed are you now that you gave these away thinking it was going to be a sub-par brew?

:smiley: [/quote]

I was thinking the opposite. I would never think to give away a sub-par brew. If I wouldn’t drink it, I’d dump it. I don’t want people equating crappy beer I don’t like to my brewing ability. Also, I like my friends and don’t want to give them crappy beer. :lol:

A question I’ve always had is how does a commercial brewery “age” beer fast enough to meet demand? If it takes me 3 - 12 months to get the best possible product, how does Sam Adams keep a product on the shelf?

A little off the subject, I know…

Easy… Filter it and pasteurize it. Instant beer-sectomy.

Best advice I was ever given to keep me from drinking beer too young was to BREW MORE BEER. Wish I could practice it more often…

+1 ^^^^^^ Brewing more often is the key to allowing beer to mellow come around.

Man, I have had a hard time with my Tripels. The first one I made was cloying, and the second one I flipped out about the amount of sugar the priming sugar calc told me to make so it’s not nearly carbonated enough. (The Priming Sugar calculator has been spot on).

I bottle-aged mine. They got a LOT better after 3 months. I would see if anyone else chimes in, but I would think that if you let it sit in secondary fermentation for like 3 months, you would have to add yeast to the bottling bucket. If you’re kegging, don’t worry about it. I will probably keg my next Tripel, but it seems dangerous having a 9.5% beer on tap.

I don’t know, man, Variety is the Spice of Life, so if I got something that’s kind of young that I’m excited to try, I want to try it as soon as I can. Gonna try an amber ale I late-hopped with Summit, Nugget and Columbus tonight that’s 2 days shy of 3 weeks in the bottle. Don’t care. I want to see how it tastes carbonated, because I drank half a pint of that out of the bottling bucket it was so damn good.

I’m the same way. I always have one after 1 week in the bottles. At first, this was a problem, because if it was carbed, and I liked it, all patience was out the window. 2 - 3 weeks later I’d crack the last one and be like, “damn, now it’s PERFECT.”

I’ve solved this by putting one sixer from each batch in a reserve case as soon as I bottle, and I also stepped up to a once-a-week schedule for a few weeks to build up a stash.

Anyway, I’ve become much better at analyzing the taste of beer by experiencing how it changes over time, so I’ll probably continue this practice for the foreseeable future.

Right. That has always been my philosophy. Brew often.
The other thing I do is plan the brew sessions so that I always have some “everyday” beer on hand, the kind that are great at 4-5 weeks, and always have some of my strong favorites with a minimum of 1 year of maturity on them.

It’s just a matter of putting aside time regularly to play in the treehouse.

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