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Aging vs drinking

Here’s a question that probably has many different answers. How do you know what beers are better aged vs beers that are better consumed fresh? I heard a vague rule of thumb “The darker the beer, the better it ages.” Is there a hard / fast rule based on ingredients, yeast, spices… etc?

I want to experiment with different recipes, but I’m just not sure how long to age them for… if at all. Knowing when fermentation is complete is easy, but for the best flavor based on style and possible aging I’m still not too sure.

For instance, I have a chocolate oatmeal coffee stout which is fermenting now. I’ve seen similar recipes that call for 2 weeks fermentation and others that call for 8 weeks.

THANKS FOLKS!

Thats a good question. I’m in the camp of higher gravity brews do better with aging, although, so do dark low gravity brews too. Sure you can go to the beer store and buy some brewed 9 months ago and its drinkable, but, being close to the brewery, gitting a growler, lower ABV mind you, has a much better flavor. If you live close to a brewery that makes packages for sale in an off premise store, do a comparison and see what yer taste buds say…Sneezles61

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In general, big malty beers age well. Hops, coffee, etc fade with age. I use this to my advantage sometimes… I picked up a commercial hop bomb (Lagunitas Waldos) that I thought was a mess. I’ve been aging it to let the hops fade, hoping to end up with a blonde barleywine.

Did find out. If i leave my beer. 2 weeks longer. In the carboy. Than the recipi. Says. It has a beter. Color. And flav.

As I’ve aged my drinking has matured. I don’t waste time on crappy beer or cheap wiskey

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“Life’s too short to drink shitty beer”

I bottle, and always do a couple in 22oz. bombers with the O2 scavenging caps and waxed tops. I age those for any where from 6 months to several years. I have to say that I think the whole aging bugaboo is overrated. I’ve even had some PAs a couple years old that tasted great.

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A couple years ago I brewed NB’s west coast radical red. 10 gallon batch into two 5 gallon kegs. Started on the first keg and did not really like it so it lasted a while. The second keg sat for 4 months because I kept putting off getting it into circulation. Anyhow when I finally tapped into it “wow” one of my best beers ever. Time can make a huge difference on some beers.

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In general, I’ve only found two beer types that are better fresh: hoppy beers and wiess biers (and Sahti, but that’s a different story). Almost everything else IMO improves with several weeks or months of aging after the fermentation is done. How much aging depends on the beer, but uberculture is on target with big malty beers needing a lot of time. Sometimes more than you expect. Last spring I brewed an Old Ale to have with Christmas this year. After 9 months in the bottle, it wasn’t really ready yet. Should be perfect for next Christmas.

I’ve gotten into the habit of setting aside a 6-pack of every batch that I make with the premise of having a bottle for myself and one for my brother to have at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years. On the whole, most of my beers have shown no particular improvement. They didn’t get worse, but there was no real need to age. A few have shown improvement though, I did an American Amber that broke apart from the style a little that was very good young, but it also aged well and blended together nicely at a year and a half.

The biggest interesting one was a coffee Irish stout that I did. It was decent young, but at 2-3 months had lost most of the coffee flavor, so I hurried up and wiped out the second case. Turns out that proved to be a bad move. At 6 months the coffee taste as still gone. At one year, the coffee flavor was back and it tasted wonderful. At nearly two years, it was still wonderful but you could tell it hadn’t improved beyond the one year for flavor.

I don’t know that there is much of a hard and fast rule. It’s more trial and error. I did a sweet Irish stout about the same time as the coffee one, very similar recipes, and it showed no particular improvement over time.

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Sweet! Yeah I have an Irish Coffe Oatmeal Chocolate Stout that just got racked into secondary 3 days ago that was in primary for 2 weeks. I added 4 oz cocoa nibs and 750ml of Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition. I’m going to let it sit for another 2 weeks and put it in a keg with 4 cups of French pressed coffee. Probably going to let that sit in there for a couple weeks to a month until I try it.
How’s that sound?

Sounds like it might prove rather tasty. The coffee Irish stout that I did was actually a bit of kitbashing. I took the Northern Brewer Dry Irish Stout kit and added a pound of Kiln Coffee grain to the steep, among other things.

I’ve since converted the recipe to all-grain and made a few tweaks. It’s on my list of things to brew in the near future.

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It’s really all a matter of personal taste in the end (as well as an adherence…or not…to tradition and history.
As such, I still routinely age my IPA/Stock Ale for an extended period after fermentation…most often for at least 8-12 months prior to consumption (as it historically always was. Historically, IPA was often aged for almost a year even before it made the long boat trip to India). It still retains hop character and a hefty bitterness, but without the grassy/green flavors usually present when “fresh”.
I’ll grant that many like those flavors, and those flavors are often hyped nowadays, along with the other endless hype that craft beer comes with, but those ‘green’ flavors are not flavors I particularly enjoy.

Short version: brew often, brew varying “styles”, always lay some aside for aging (in bulk if you have the space and the patience) and let your own taste buds be your guide.

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