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Small Bottle "Aging" - My Mistake

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by GRG1313, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. BradtheGreat7

    BradtheGreat7 Savant (285) Ohio Jul 22, 2011

    Interesting info. I'd have to disagree about the 12 oz bottle info personally. I understand the exceptions but for instance I age Breakfast stout every year and while it's a lot more mellow than the freshest batch, it's still an unbelievable flavor. Bigfoot is another small bottle that ages well over many years. Barleywines, stouts, and Belgian beers are the only ones you hear of people aging. Hoppy beers like pale ales, imperial pale ales, and IPAs arent worth aging. But another great beer I've aged that wasn't a barleywine or stout was DFH Palo Santo Marron. I thought it was good fresh, but ridiculously boozy. Man what nearly 2 years did for it. I've personally never had a problem or noticed any difference when aging 12 oz bottles vs 750 ml bottles. Just me though but I'll continue to age them. I know Goose Island has always encouraged aging their Sofie farmhouse ale. I actually have one thats been sitting for 8 months or so. But hey, it's just my view of things. I'm not always right for sure
  2. i don't know how to respond to this.

    they're also different recipes (different abvs and barrels).

    if you're saying a beer with more age has fallen off more than a beer with less age, then... ya, i agree. therein lies the problem: the ba community seems to think the purpose of 'the game' is to buy 12 bottles of 2010 bcbcs, drink one, age eleven. in two years they discover bcbcs is best drank fresh, and insist it wasn't a mistake.

    just to be sure, though, they buy 12 bottles of 2012 bcbcs, drink one, age eleven....

    fyi, i thought all bcbs was better fresh except maybe for 2007. '07 and '08 are drinking well right now, but as a guy who bought them for their barrel flavor, aging them to reduce the barrel component strikes me as absurd. '09 is doing ok, '10 and '11 are down from where they were fresh. so are rare and king henry. like lurchingbeast said, develop != improve.

    i think a lot of people need to figure out what they really want out of a beer (flavor-wise) when they buy it, and what they want age to do. i think, without a frame of reference, ba's reflexively think "aging will do this one some good!" and in 3-4 years, they think the flabby, oxidation-dulled flavor package is an improvement, because "aging always improves a beer!"
  3. foobula

    foobula Savant (330) Illinois Dec 14, 2009

    I see what you're saying. I don't think of GI's 5 year figure as a recommendation to cellar as much as a drink-by date, which in my experience is pretty accurate. Also there are big complex beers like Bramble Rye that everyone thinks is much better now than when fresh. So everyone who hung onto theirs looks like a genius now. I think BA's buy and keep beer for many reasons, and drinking it at its peak is not always the goal. I'm ok with hanging onto beer because you want to build up your cellar, you want to assemble a vertical, you want to compare vintages, or just for the hell of it. Alcoholic products are unique in that the shelf life can be decades, and that's part of the appeal of the hobby.
  4. i don't know about "everyone" - tough to get a consensus, but i don't think the correct approach is to cite the exceptions. vanilla, bramble are exceptions.

    that's fair. i think it's a poor, illogical goal, but i can understand it.
    ChrisPro likes this.
  5. I just stated my recent results in the cellaring forum in the post "how long is too long"
  6. 48 bottles, you have a high alcohol tolerance.

    And how do you know they didn't improve/got worse? Did you side by side them with 48 fresh bottles? Isnt it possible that you remembered them being better than they actually were? I often find that my most favorable impression of a beer is the first time Ive tried it, and subsequent tastings dont live up to that first experience. Its possible that your memory/expectations/palate preferences have changed just as much as the beers themselves.
  7. ArrogantB

    ArrogantB Advocate (700) Colorado Jun 9, 2006

    Whew! Had me worried for just one minute but then I remembered I drank a 2008 classic gueuze 375 two weeks ago and it was still great. Carry on.:cool:
  8. "Cough"Thomas Hardy, JW Lees Harvest Ale, Gales Prize Old Ale back in the day. "Cough"
  9. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    Yeah, but 15% has loads of mellowing that can happen
  10. MasterSki

    MasterSki Site Editor (980) Ontario (Canada) Dec 25, 2006 Staff Member

    The only 12oz (or smaller) bottles I generally don't open immediately are from Kuhnhenn. To some degree it's a function of not wanting to drink large format bottles on my own, but I have under a case of 'small' bottles. I'd agree with GRG1313 (and Jeffo, Levitation, et al): 95%+ of beer for purchase tastes best fresh, and another ~3% tastes best within the first year. Unless they're really strapped for cash, most breweries won't release beers that are too 'hot' or insufficiently 'wild' and with all the barrel-aged beers available now, a lot of stuff is already 1-3 years old by the time we're purchasing it.

    I'm sure we can all name a few exceptions (Cantillon Gueuze, World Wide Stout, etc.) but people maintaining deep cellars are basically gambling; in time the house always wins.
  11. seeswo

    seeswo Savant (490) Ohio Jan 10, 2010

    I have wales in my cellar [closet] because my [internet] friend told me they would be better that way, even though I've never had the beer before. As such, you are wrong and you offend me - all cellared beers are more amazinger than when I get them from the truck I chase around town.
    Levitation and GRG1313 like this.
  12. Dope

    Dope Advocate (545) Massachusetts Oct 5, 2010

    Thank you for posting your observations. I've found similar results from having beer sitting around too long in the cellar. Truth is, one of the first things you learn about cellaring is that 90% of beers do not improve with age. Maybe even 95%. Maybe even higher? Only beers I'm really cellaring right now are known to be cellarable (founders IS, stone IRS, BCBS, speedway stout, black ops, 120min, WWS etc) or I had fresh and found to be way hot (BBQ, rye-on-rye etc)

    In fact, I just had some beer last night that had been sitting in my cellar close to 2 years. Highland Oatmeal Porter and Weyerbacher Insanity. Neither was very good, the Insanity was a drainpour in fact (despite being 11.1%). Oh well, it's a relatively cheap lesson at least.

    Having said that, half the fun is the trial-and-error I think.

    Dope
    denali55421, foobula and GRG1313 like this.
  13. Jason311

    Jason311 Aficionado (105) Virginia Dec 18, 2012

    I have made mistakes in trying to age the wrong styles of beer. I found out the hard way that IPA's and DIPA's do not age well. And a Christmas/Noel beer that i let go long past.
  14. AgentZero

    AgentZero Advocate (555) Illinois Jul 19, 2009

    Why does this thread have 50+ responses?
    ChrisPro likes this.
  15. vthippie

    vthippie Aficionado (180) Vermont Dec 18, 2012

    This is just simply NOT true, smaller bottles are more prone to oxidation than larger formats. Not saying that you can't age smaller bottles and get positive results but all things being equal if you were to side by side a 12oz and a 22oz of the same age, stored in the same condition you are likely to notice a greater amount of oxidation in the 12oz.
  16. I just had 3 bottles over the weekend.. 1,2&3 year old bottles... all stouts cellared at 55- 60...all equally tasting of oxidation.. wet cardboard.... all were bombers..so i don't believe the bottle size matters
  17. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    I've got a bunch of smaller format bottles hanging around in my cellar. Besides geuzes, which are a different story, I have DFH 120, WWS and Raison D'extra, Pannepot, Black Tot, a couple other IRS i don't recall offhand, and some Founders IRS. I popped a year-old one of those a couple weeks ago, and it really needs even more time, it's stillreally hot and boozy so far.
    Most of the rest of my cellar is 22s and 750s.
  18. jb123

    jb123 Savant (470) Michigan Dec 3, 2012

    I've had different years IMO it tastes better with age
  19. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (385) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    There are one or two interviews with Dr Charles Bamforth on The Brewing Network. The flavors that evolve as a (non-brett-wild) beer ages has little or nothing to do with yeast. And what reaction take place don't have to do with eating sugars.

    A filtered beer can age very well. In fact there is an enzyme in yeast that will eat head-retention proteins, which is thought to be one of the reasons an ages BW can lose head.

    But there are redox reactions, alcohols breaking down, (E)-2-nonenal and a host of other thing. It would be best to listen to the podcast.
  20. AxesandAnchors

    AxesandAnchors Savant (300) Oregon Nov 21, 2012

    Actually sir you are incorrect, the flavor of the beer has quite a bit to do with the yeast. Also when a beer is bottle conditioned the brewer primes it with sugar for the yeast to eat and produce natural carbonation (CO2). Also he was asking specifically about AleSmith's Horny Devil, which is a Belgian style beer...

    Traditional Belgian yeast requires higher temperatures to condition efficiently. Belgian yeast, which under many circumstances is a wild or house-grown yeast, contributes special flavor attributes and texture to the finished beer. It also helps stabilize the beer.

    Randy Thiel, Head Brew at Ommegang;

    Yeast used during primary fermentation of strong Belgian brews —above 15° Plato or 1.060 original gravity — gets beat up during fermentation and will be of little value during bottle conditioning. If you condition your beer at least two weeks before bottling, most of this old yeast will drop out of suspension. Then you can add new yeast.

    Paul Arnott, Master brewer at Unibroue;

    Of the twelve beer styles we make, we referment nine. It’s a very favorable way to age beer, especially the strong, dark styles. With a normal filtered beer, after six months, you no longer want to drink it. With a re-fermented beer, the flavor gets better and more complex.

    Arnott conditions his beer between 68° to 77° Fahrenheit and says it is carbonated in about three weeks.

    “It’s carbonated at that point, but with a re-fermented beer, the work never stops. The yeast will continue to work and the beer will continue to evolve. The best time at which to drink it is a matter of personal taste. In good cases, re-fermented beers can last for several years without a problem.”
  21. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (385) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    I was of course talking extended aging after carbonation.

    Most of the positive flavors that yeast produce are made in the first few days. Then the yeast will go through a period of cleaning up fermentation by-product. There really isn't any flavor contribution during carbonation. If there was then it won't be done under sure warm conditions.

    I believe that you are taking Arnott's quote out of context. If you filter Trois Pistoles and force carbonate it, I can assure you that it will be very drinkable well after six months. For a beer like that I'd say that it's the dark malts and their anti-oxident properties that are the biggest factor. Lets take a homebrewer, say call him Jamil Zainasheff. As do most homebrewers he doesn't bottle condition. He forces carbonates, they last and after many years have still won in competition. Conversely, if the yeast makes the beer improve then way are there many more bottle conditioned beers that don't age well? Such as many Triples. I've have aged La Fin du Monde.

    As I suggested it would be best to listen to the podcast.
  22. AxesandAnchors

    AxesandAnchors Savant (300) Oregon Nov 21, 2012

    I actually would like to listen to the podcast, please provide a link. However I wasn't taking Arnott's words out of context, it's what he actually said.
  23. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (385) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    Sure, I'll be happy to - just give me sometime to make a few notes to add in.

    One side item. I'm pretty sure that J.W. Lees Harvest Ale is on most peoples cellaring list. It happens to be filtered and pasteurized. But it's not as Arnott would say, "a normal filtered beer". And I'm not really disagreeing with him. My hunch is that "a normal filtered beer" is your typical Lager. Basically I think Arnott is talking in general marketing terms and not presenting data as in a technical journal.

    Anyway thanks for the discussion. I'll follow up later.

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