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Hoppy Beers Don't Age Well: Fact or Fiction?

I am more looking for what happens to them after some time. Some things I know:

-volatile oils/aromatic compounds break down over time, dissipating aroma
-for some reason that I don’t know, hop-forward beers are more susceptible to oxidation, which is gross
-Dogfish RECOMMENDS aging 120 minute (though this may be closer to 'Merican Barleywine than IIPA)
-Somebody on here cold-conditions his IPA’s for a long time (months maybe?)
-My IIPA was really not all that great a month ago (brewed early September, pictured)…but its getting really great recently. Less astringent, more balanced flavors. I know 2 months isn’t exactly ‘old’ by beer standards, but this seems to be improving with some age, cold conditioning, and finings.

I guess its a tricky balance with IIPAs. On one hand, you need to brew them to have a subtle/warming boozy kick, but obviously overload on hops. The former suggests aging, the latter suggests drinking fresh.

one month ago:

[attachment=1]IIPA.jpg[/attachment]

last night:

[attachment=0]IIPA 2.jpg[/attachment]

I guess its a subtle art brewing these (haven’t brewed a double in a long time), but just wondering if anyone had any best practices, or when they find IIPA’s to peak. There are ways to stave off oxidation (such as the O2-reducing crowns).

:cheers:

This is just my opinion based on my limited experience brewing pretty hoppy beers: They really start to come into their own at about 8-10 weeks after brewing. Especially if bottling. With so much plant matter going in and the higher levels of alcohol they typically have, they really need time to meld together and settle down.

I brewed a 5 gallon batch of IPA in early June that had 5.5oz of hops in the boil, 2oz dry hops & clocked in at just under 8% ABV. After 3 weeks in the bottle (6 total weeks from brew day) it was drinkable. It was a little hot & you could taste the plant matter from the dry hops. At 10 weeks old it started to really come together and taste. Today I have 4 bottles left at almost 5 months to the day from brew day. I have been chilling two a weekend for the past few weeks and it is now in the top three of beers that I have brewed. With 7.5oz of hops it is not super balanced but that wasn’t my goal. It is a great tasting IPA that puts the hops in the front, middle & end of the taste & smell without being harshly bitter.

I think the loss of dry hopping aroma over time is worried about a little too much sometimes (like a lot of things in home breweing). Do the hop aromas fade after some time? Of course. But if you were to split a batch, with everything else being exactly the same, dry hop half and leave the other half be, I think even after 6-8 months the aroma difference between the two would stand out greatly.

In conclusion: I think they age very well and in fact I prefer mine to be at least 8 weeks old before I start drinking them. Although that is always tough to do. I usually get two cases, drink one quick & let the other sit. I am always mad that I didn’t let them bot age once I break in to the older one.

Just my opinion of course.

Taste is extremely subjective. If the beer tastes good to you today, drink it. If you think age helps, age it. If not, don’t.

One fact I can provide is that over time, hop flavor and aroma disappears. Taken to the extreme, let’s say you age a good IPA for 10 years. After 10 years, there will be ZERO hop flavor or aroma remaining – I guarantee it. The whole trick might be figuring out exactly the rate at which these changes happen, and finding a degree of aged flavor that YOU YOURSELF prefer. Another guarantee – everyone will have a different opinion of what works best.

Isn’t there an app for this :lol:

I’ve had some IPAs start out too hoppy, go through a sweet spot, and then fall into a less bitter place that a lot of my friends like.

As I’ve said elsewhere (ad nauseum :blah: ), I age my IPA for 8 to 12 months. Always have.
Frankly, a good many of the commercial IPAs out there do actually benefit greatly from the passage of time (assuming good bottling practices were used). But that, of course, depends on the flavor profile you like. So Dave’s right…depends on entirely on personal preference.

After the extended aging of the homebrewed version, I’ve never been disappointed with the hop levels and I like that the ‘green’ flavors have aged out leaving an amazingly clean, balanced, but still very powerful bitterness. Aroma is present, since I dry hop for a period near the end of the aging cycle. I haven’t had much luck producing good aromatic hop oil, but if I’mm ever successful in dialing in the process, I’ll definitely start using that in combination with dry hopping.

There is a lot of emphasis these days on the fresh hop flavor in so called ‘American’ IPA, hence the current obsession with drinking IPAs young. The breweries certainly have no complaint with that since they then don’t need to tie up precious tank space for aging. I guess it just boils down to whether or not you like those fresh, green flavors. Many certainly do. I don’t.

So there’s no right or wrong either way (unless you’re being traditional…in which case some age on an IPA would be absolutely correct. Even without a boat ride to India :mrgreen: ).

My Hopslam clone at 11% was really good after a year. On the other hand, Denny’s RIPA (which I would consider a IIPA when I brew it at 8%) tastes best between 1-4 weeks old. i.e. fresh

Definitely, everyone’s tastes differ. That’s one thing I learned for sure with home brewing.

I just had the same exact thing happen…brewed a simcoe/amarillo IPA that was kind of harsh/astringent, after 6 weeks or so in the keg it was great

This, and

[quote=“The Professor”]As I’ve said elsewhere (ad nauseum :blah: ), I age my IPA for 8 to 12 months. Always have.
Frankly, a good many of the commercial IPAs out there do actually benefit greatly from the passage of time (assuming good bottling practices were used). But that, of course, depends on the flavor profile you like. So Dave’s right…depends on entirely on personal preference.

After the extended aging of the homebrewed version, I’ve never been disappointed with the hop levels and I like that the ‘green’ flavors have aged out leaving an amazingly clean, balanced, but still very powerful bitterness. Aroma is present, since I dry hop for a period near the end of the aging cycle. I haven’t had much luck producing good aromatic hop oil, but if I’mm ever successful in dialing in the process, I’ll definitely start using that in combination with dry hopping.

There is a lot of emphasis these days on the fresh hop flavor in so called ‘American’ IPA, hence the current obsession with drinking IPAs young. The breweries certainly have no complaint with that since they then don’t need to tie up precious tank space for aging. I guess it just boils down to whether or not you like those fresh, green flavors. Many certainly do. I don’t.

So there’s no right or wrong either way (unless you’re being traditional…in which case some age on an IPA would be absolutely correct. Even without a boat ride to India :mrgreen: ).[/quote]

this were exactly what I was looking for.

The hop-forward types of beers (IPAs/APA’s/IIPA’s) that I enjoy most are those with an intense citrus, floral, piney, resinous, tropical, stone-fruit, etc. aroma, a good malt backbone, but a smooth /not-harsh bitterness.

I’m thinking I might try FWH only in my next IPA. I think in the above example, we may have had 90-minute hop additions, as the original Pliny clone called for them. I guess I thought for a Hopocalyptic beer, it didn’t seem like enough to go somewhat lighter on the bittering hops. But…the beer is slightly too bitter, so there you have it.

Its all personal preference, but I like my IPA’s fresh. The aroma fades faster than the taste and I like the whole experience of aroma, taste and mouth feel. There have been a few IPA’s that have benefited from a little ageing but to my taste not many.

Sonny! Long time no see! Welcome back, man!

I definitely prefer my IPAs and pale ales fresh. There is often a fine line between double IPA and barleywine, which obvious benefits from a lot of aging.

hops really fade dramatically after about a month or so after kegging, they we still be very hoppy but that big huge aroma and flavor starts to dwindle.

kegging bottle conditioning will be different

For the big beers you are talking about, Big beers are not easy to make, perfeting your craft shows alot in a beer to
Those bigger beers do need a little more time but they are way more balanced hop/maltwise

I find that a lot of my ipas hit there sweet spot around 1month in the keg and they are generally in the fermenter three to four weeks prior to that. Its like all the harsh unrefined flavors mellow and the beer seems less muddled. I like my ipas “fresh” but not too " young" whatever that means. This hobby is very subjective.

The answer to that question depends on what you mean by "age’.If you mean that the hop character will diminish with age,leading to a potentially poor beer in the future,that is a distinct possibility.The real key issue here is having a good malt base for the hops to stand on.If you brew a beer with nothing but pale malt or pilsner malt,and nothing else for depth of malt character,then the beer will definitely have a limited shelf life.That is,if the beer is brewed to average alcoholic strength.If you brew it to imperial or “double” range (as if there’s any real disctinct difference),and give the wort a good long boil to really develop melanoidins,and the hop freshness has worn off a bit,you might still be left with a drinkable beer.
On the other hand,if by “hoppy”,you mean that the beer simply has a high level of bitterness,but not necessarily a strong hop flavor or aroma,then the beer might not fare too badly after a long aging process.Take Anchor’s Old Foghorn barleywine for instance.That one is pretty highly hopped,but mainly just for bitterness.It ages quite well.On the other hand, Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine has an incredibly high level of bitterness,and a pretty overwhelming hop flavor when it’s young.But if you let it age a year or more,that hop character will mellow out somewhat and the beer will still have plenty of good malt flavor.In both of those cases,a beer that was highly hopped-whether it was hopped for flavor and aroma,or just for bitterness-ages just fine.
For a closing thought,I will add that many beers that have a low or lowish hopping rate tend to go stale a lot faster,even if they’re highly alcoholic and start off tasting great.Strong Scotch ales and dopplebocks come to mind.They may age for several months before they hit the market,but you will never find a bottle of either of those styles that comes with a recommendation to let them age in your cellar.This is precisely because they don’t have a strong hop character to help preserve them over time,so you need to buy them and drink them before too much time goes by,like less than a year.There are some exceptions to this rule,of course,but it’s a pretty reliable one just the same.
I hope this has given you some kind of a satisfying answer.

I had a Pliny clone in my fridge for 4 years. It was wonderful. Just sayin…

:cheers:

Hop flavor and aroma do fade. The ironic thing is that a lot of hops will really help a beer not go off in long time aging.

I changed up my fermentation/conditioning/chilling regiment as I had an IPA that tasted very much like Ranger, and when my friend finally made it over a week or so later it wasn’t really the same. Now I give most all of my beers 4/4/1 to help them meld together beforehand.

I’ve often wondered about the dry hopping dissipating quickly and thought that maybe a 0 min whirl pooling would help hold the aroma longer than a dry hop. Has anyone ever tried this instead?

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