Long Fermentation Time or Conditioning Time?

So I have a couple of recipes that suggest waiting to enjoy the beer. One in particular is Northern Brewer’s Belgian Dubbel extract kit. The review suggest to “be patient”, and wait up to six months to enjoy the beer.

So what I’m uncertain about is, when a recipe suggests that a beer can take even longer than the recipe states, and they say it is best at six months (or even 18 months as one recipe suggests), is this the fermentation time that they are saying I should be patient with, or the bottle conditioning time?

Sounds like baloney to me. Drink the beer when it tastes good. I once made a dubbel that tasted awesome right away after I bottled it, then wasn’t as good a couple months later. I have also made beers that were harsh when young but got more mellow after a year or two in the bottle. Ignore all timelines provided by recipes, and just let the yeast and your own tastebuds do all the talking!


I’ve read the same about the Caribou Slobber. I’ve been waiting to test one of the few bottles I have left since it’s been about 6 months since I brewed it.

Don’t get me wrong, it was just fine earlier on after a couple weeks in the bottles, but I read similar reviews that said it gets better with time so I am anxious to try it.

Who knows, it might taste like crap :slight_smile: Everyone’s taste and preference is different, so see what you like and roll with it.

I can’t imagine the caribou slobber benefiting much from aging. It’s a low abv brown ale. Drink that sucker as soon as you are done with primary.

I’ve asked this same type of question here before but no one ever seems to have a good answer. I’ve asked if its best to age bottles at room temp or in fridge. Can’t seem to find a good answer.

Depends on what you want to have happen.

Typically, for higher-abv beers, and those with a lot of complex malts, cellaring/aging should be done at cellar temps (50-65* with variability allowed). A couple of things happen:

-Oxidation: since bottle crowns are not perfect seals, the beer oxidizes ever so slightly. Typically, oxygen binding with fermented stuff does not equal good tasting stuff. However, the slight amount that the crowns let in allows for some maturation of flavors and enhancement from the oxidation itself. I am suspect of ‘aging’ cans (such as Oskar Blues Ten Fidy RIS), since cans are a perfect seal. But the reason those might taste different is likely more a result of the next one…
-Esterification: This is the big one, this happens in wine as well. Basically, harsh alcohols turn from tasting like solvent to tasting like sherry, dried fruit, and other yumminess. This is why an aged RIS, eisbock or barleywine can be frigging sublime. However, if the brewer minimized his/her beer’s production of fusel alcohols to begin with, the beer should also taste very good (but different) when young.
-Flavors melding: In my experience, this can happen at cellar temps or refrigerated temps
-Tannin/Polyphenol Reduction: This one is a little more complicated, but basically is the main purpose of ‘lagering’, aka cold-storing. Cold temps will cause polyphenols to drop out of suspension (a tannin is a type of polyphenol). However this can also happen with cellar temp aging (witness a good 10-year old wine).

My typical move is to cold crash/cold store just about all beers (hoppy, roasty, crisp, boozy, tart…just about any style) after fermentation for at least a week. What I do next depends on the beer. High abv beers, bottle age at cellar temps with O2-absorbing crowns. Hoppy, crisp, low abv roasty beers, drink relatively young.

Thanks Pietro. That is exactly the type of information I was looking for. I’m on my 8th batch & I learn something something with every batch.