I was wondering, are there general rules on how long to age certain Beers or Ciders? Say if I want to put it on the shelf 6 months or a year or even longer what should I look for in my beverage to determine the shelf life?
It depends on the particular beer. Some ales (wheat beers and cream ales come to mind) are ready to drink after a couple weeks fermentation and a week or two of conditioning, while lagers take a few weeks to a few months aging (lagering) to be at their peak. Some beers, such as barleywines, can take a year or more to be at their best. As far as shelf life, again it depends on the beer. Some are best young, some are at their best after a year, sometimes a good bit more than a year. If you have specific styles in mind, post them, I’m sure folks will ring in here with some good info. :cheers:
I won’t dispute anything in Marty’s post, except to qualify that last comment. When a beer is at peak flavor is a matter of personal taste. A lot of brewers will say that most beers taste best when fresh - especially hoppy beers like IPAs. I find I prefer almost all my beers aged at least a couple months, and sometimes longer - even mild low alcohol beers.
So one would look at the style of the beer more so than indicators like FG or alcohol content?
Generally this works by tasting one beer per week or so until a desirable flavor profile is tasted.
Unfiltered beer is constantly changing due to the effects of the yeast, the temperature of storage, the storage environment (keg vs bottle vs barrel) etc… has on the beer.
The characteristics of the beer, FG, alcohol content, IBU’s etc… also have an effect. This is where the style of beer comes in to play. A hoppy IPA will fade over time and could in general be considered at peek directly after dry hopping (if not dry hopping in the keg). Beers with lots of roast malts/high alcohol/FG may need more time to settle down. You can see the styles those beers play into.
One general rule would be that a high alcohol, complex beer (Belgian Quad) may age better than a highly hopped pale beer IPA simply because it’s not about the hops but more malt focused. (I know the Brits hopped the beer for the long journey to India but I’m not sure if there was much aroma/flavor in those beers as opposed to just raw bitterness.)
I personally like to keep a large collection of big beers to age, tasting them every 6 months to see how they change. I find that stouts and barleywines age the best followed by old ales, grand cru and Belgian quads. Below is a link to my personal collection if it helps to see what I deem appropriate for aging.
I just assumed (or hoped) if I had I beer in the 6-7% ABV or higher, I could set in on the shelf for a year and forget about it, Should of known it wouldn’t of been that simple HA!!
MullerBrau you have one hell of a collection
I like fresh pale ale a lot. Sometimes I go 21 days from kettle to glass. Hop flavor changes over the life the keg, so it’s like getting a different beer over time. If you get a solid fermentation, the beer tastes a little green early on but it’s still fantastic. I like the exercise a lot.
When I have beer to drink and I’m brewing ahead, I brew maltier beers. These store and age well. Even smaller beers like cream ale age nicely, IME. Beer on hand is a happy thing. And I prefer lager beer to be 3 months old. I may have to experiment with younger lagers, I’m liking some of the commercial hoppier pilsners going around.
As for Cider, I never touch it before it’s a year old. It’s not worth it. Try it out, you’ll see what I mean. I recall Denny speaking to these ends as well. Honestly, I’m finding it’s even much better after two years. I’m building a large stock so I can always enjoy aged cider; 2016 me will be happy that 2014 me was industrious.
The previous posts about personal taste is spot on, it’s all about what you like. The fun is trying it out. Keep drinking, it’s science.
Experiment with the aging, and determine what works best for you.
Practically every beer I make gets at least 6 to 8 weeks of cold aging (and my traditional IPA, as well as my Burton/Old/Barleywines all get a minimum of 8 months to a year; the stronger ones continue to improve for much longer than that, up to a point).
If I’m in a hurry, a brown ale or other darker ale of moderate strength fills the bill nicely (and even then, the last few glasses sputtering out of the keg are usually the best tasting).
So burdbrew is correct…experiment and taste to arrive at your your own preference.
It really is a real-life science project.
I am also assuming all of my aging is done on a shelf at room temp. rather than in a refrigerator?
I am getting a lot of good advice here fellas
[quote=“acogg84”]I am also assuming all of my aging is done on a shelf at room temp. rather than in a refrigerator?
I am getting a lot of good advice here fellas[/quote]Aging can be done at either temp. Preferably at cellar temps like 50-55F. Warmer temps speed up the process and cooler temps slow it down.