Cellaring Temp.....Why 55°?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by HopsintheSack, Apr 4, 2013.

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  1. HopsintheSack

    HopsintheSack Devotee (447) Apr 17, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I am in the process of purchasing a freezerless fridge and was looking through various threads about controllers why I asked myself, why 55?

    I understand not wanting to let the beer get hot or change temp frequently, but why is 55 the best temp? If you ant to preserve a beer for the long haul, why not keep it at lower regular fridge temps? It seems to me this would better preserve the beer.

  2. dc55110

    dc55110 Aspirant (282) Oct 24, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Well if you are looking to preserve, then yes, colder would be better. But the object of cellaring a beer is to have it develop/mature with time. The colder the temperature, the more stunted the process. Warmer temperatures accelerate the process.
  3. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    There are two distinct answers to this question, because really it's two distinct questions.

    First, there's "Why do people age at 55?" The answer to this is pretty much just "because that's about the temperature of most northern European cellars." Or, if you prefer, "because we've always done it that way." It's not a great reason, but hey, at least you know it works. Well, it works fine for the styles they make there.

    The second question is "What's the optimal cellar temperature?" That one is a lot harder and depends on your goals. If you want to preserve the beer as completely as possible then colder is better. If you want the beer to develop then you want warm. If you want it to develop quickly then you want warmer. You never want to get too warm because certain off flavors (or, at least, flavors that are generally perceived as off flavors, maybe you like them) develop significantly faster once you pass certain temperatures.

    Will it kill beer to be aged at 65 or 45 instead of 55? No, depending on your goals it might even preferable. But you obviously don't want to stray too far away (15 would get you beer icies, 85 would get liquid cardboard, etc).
  4. JasonLovesBeer

    JasonLovesBeer Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2013 British Columbia (Canada)

    I would like to put a bit of a different spin on this common question:

    Like most in apartments, I don't have a cool cellar, but instead I've put my beer in a dark spot away from sources of heat or cold. I'm not looking to cellar beers for really long periods, but I'd like to allow them to mature based on the environment I've put them in.

    So if my beers are stored at 70F, what's an appropriate aging period? Beer styles in question are RIS, Quads, Lambics, and a couple other strong ales. I am hoping they will do well with 1-2 years, but I don't want to push my luck.
  5. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Initiate (0) Jun 21, 2009 Virginia

    Can someone point me to any article that states off flavors are developed at higher temps (outside of homebrewing conditions)
    Not being snarky, just looking to learn.
  6. deadonhisfeet

    deadonhisfeet Poo-Bah (1,520) Apr 23, 2011 Kentucky

    I'm kind of new to cellaring myself, but from everything I've tried and read I don't believe 1-2 years constitutes ``long term aging'' so you should be okay. I don't think I'd let something sit at that temperature for upwards of 7-10 years though.
  7. HopsintheSack

    HopsintheSack Devotee (447) Apr 17, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I have found beers sitting at 70+ degrees, even for less than a year, will be dramatically changed and not for the better.
  8. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    This is awfully technical and based largely on marco aging (I believe, it's been a while since I read it), but should do the trick: http://beersensoryscience.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/chemistry-of-beer-aging/

    The rest of that blog is a pretty great resource too.
  9. JasonLovesBeer

    JasonLovesBeer Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2013 British Columbia (Canada)

    Thanks for the feedback, this is definitely my concern. Obviously different styles and also different expressions within a style will all age differently so there's no perfect answer, but it was more a question of where does the undesirable reactions in the beer start happening.

    I think for now I'm just going to count on only aging beers for 3-12 months, maybe keep a few longer to experiment. I have a couple from 2008 & 2009 that will be interesting to try. The rest of my collection is less than ~8 months old.
  10. Twan22

    Twan22 Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2013 California

    I just bought a small fridge, set it to the lowest setting and I'm monitoring the temp, so far its about 45'....I'm in NorCal where summers get to 100+ so this way I know it will be consistent. (btw an open jar of water with help increase humidity if needed)
  11. JasonLovesBeer

    JasonLovesBeer Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2013 British Columbia (Canada)

    I almost bought this today... might pick it up tomorrow still.

    Since I've got primarily bombers, I'm probably going to have nothing but the center shelf unfortunately, but should fit 20 bombers up top and perhaps 10 on the bottom plus stubbies like Chimay across the back where I believe the pump etc. take up space. The amount of space is a little disappointing but I haven't found a reasonably priced alternative that I can squirrel away in a corner.
  12. HopsintheSack

    HopsintheSack Devotee (447) Apr 17, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

  13. mmikey8

    mmikey8 Aspirant (298) Aug 2, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    If you're not against it, go on Ebay. they have Haier 50 can fridge for less than that with free shipping. Bottom Shelving and Center rack is all you need. I have over 40 beers in mine of bombers/750's/375's.

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Haier-Hbcn05fvs-150-can-bottle-Beverage/dp/B001876WAQ
    no free shipping though
  14. JasonLovesBeer

    JasonLovesBeer Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2013 British Columbia (Canada)

    Good suggestion (thanks for that), though for the marginal savings I like the convenience of stopping in on my way home and buying the Magic Chef - which I did on the way home :grinning:

    Currently 44 beers in it, probably 2/3's bombers, and there's still room!

    HopsintheSack likes this.
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