Does aging increase the ABV?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by UHCougar12, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. UHCougar12

    UHCougar12 Disciple (326) Feb 21, 2011 Texas

    Someone once told me that when aging a higher abv(>8%) beer that the alcohol would increase 1-5% every year if properly cellared. Is their any truth to this theory? I'm fairly new to the aging beer scene(1-2yrs), and am just curious for general knowledge.
  2. crusian

    crusian Crusader (768) May 14, 2010 Oregon

    generally, not really. There are cases where the fermentation has not stopped before it was bottled, and it would increase, but this also causes some problems where the bottles may explode. Jester King had to recall commercial suicide because of the continued fermentation. 1-5% per year is preposterous. If so, then I have a 200% beer in my cellar, whoo hoo!!
    LuskusDelph, JrGtr and PleiadesUnite like this.
  3. Mavajo

    Mavajo Initiate (0) Feb 10, 2007 Georgia

    To the best of my knowledge, no.
  4. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    Beer needs to breathe in order to ferment. A 5% ABV increase would lead to cellar shrapnel.
  5. UHCougar12

    UHCougar12 Disciple (326) Feb 21, 2011 Texas

    Thanks for the info.
  6. Kibs33

    Kibs33 Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2016 California

    This is Weird, but I'm convinced my stout is stronger after being stored for 2 years. I swear it feels like 15% ABV now instead of the advertised 11%. Ask me the maker and I'll tell you. Hint: Southern Cal
  7. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I think the person meant that it would increase by 1-5% of the total amount of alcohol, not the percent of alcohol in the beer, i.e. after a year a 10% beer would be a 10.1-10.5% beer.
  8. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Meyvn (1,349) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa

    That makes more sense and maybe it does increase about that amount. Yes some beers that are bottle conditioned may have the abv rise a little but it wouldn't be anything I'd worry about.
  9. RDMII

    RDMII Disciple (380) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    Bottle conditioning might lend to a tiny increase (.0005%) over a long time, but the original question is absolutely ridiculous. The beer is no longer fermenting in the bottle.
  10. Fargrow

    Fargrow Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Michigan

    Since beer dry out with age, I assumed it was because yeast continue to eat the sugar. Brett continues to eat until there's very little sugar left, right? So why isn't the byproduct (CO2 and alcohol) of live yeast in non-pasteurized bottles the same as it is during fermentation?
  11. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (424) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Give the guy a break, brah.
    If he can't ask a question like this here, where should he inquire?
  12. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    If by dry out you mean get thinner in body, it is because proteins and larger carbohydrates fall out of solution over time.
    Saccharomyces generally does not continue to ferment after the bottle conditioning phase ends, unlike Brett (and the amount of fermentation that Brett does in the bottle is probably not enough to raise the abv significantly).
    jmdrpi likes this.
  13. Fargrow

    Fargrow Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Michigan

    That makes a lot of sense, thanks.
  14. uglypirate

    uglypirate Initiate (63) Nov 29, 2013 Kentucky

    In contrast to all the others, the Orval Trappist brewery makes only one beer for the general public. It has an intensely aromatic and dry character. Between the first and second fermentation’s there is also an additional dry-hopping process. Through this the beer acquires its pronounced hoppy aroma and extra dry taste. Bottled at 5.2% abv – can go up as high as 7.2%.

    I believe it is labeled at 6.9% in the US because the government allows error of 0.3%, which covers the top-end, and they are required to represent the max abv.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  15. SteveSexton203

    SteveSexton203 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2014 Connecticut

    I aussme its safe to say this continue breaking down is why Brett Bears explode a lot (geysers with age)
    Fargrow likes this.
  16. beernuts

    beernuts Disciple (325) Jan 23, 2014 Virginia

    I think that's referring to batch variation, not abv increasing in the bottle.
    jmdrpi and LuskusDelph like this.
  17. uglypirate

    uglypirate Initiate (63) Nov 29, 2013 Kentucky

    Below they say there is a 1.0% change in ABV possible. Not sure why the range is different, but the ABV clearly can increase.

    This slow acting yeast eats sugars which other cultured top fermenting yeasts cannot and not only changes the profile of the beer from a bitter hoppy pale ale to a drier complex wild ale, but it delivers a beer which increases in alcohol over its life-span from 5.9% ABV when it’s bottled to 6.9% ABV given enough time. “In Belgium we put an average of 6.2% ABV on the label of the bottle,” says Philippe. “But in the U.S. and Canada, we have to put 6.9% ABV to keep their governments happy.”
  18. SportsandJorts

    SportsandJorts Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2012 Virginia

    Bringing Orval into this conversation unnecessary. First off because that brings Brettanomyces into the conversation. Brett acts very different from brewer's stains in that it can eat basically any type of sugar. Second Orval is even a unique case among Brett beers because the Brett is added very close to or the time of bottling. This means that when bottled the complex sugars are not yet converted, meaning when bottled the F.G. is most likely around 1.011 and the Brett brings in down to somewhere in the vicinity of 1.004. A vast majority of beers with brettanomyces (>99%) have had the yeast for a long period of time (up to a year or more) so all the complex sugars have already been converted (F.G. is already closer to 1.004.)

    So to sum it up, when beer is bottled all the convertible sugars should have been converted (meaning the beer is actually done fermenting.) If the brewer is bottling it before this, they are not going to stay in business very long because they will be having lots of QC and flavor issues. Orval is a very unique case where there are still sugars that are edible to the yeast strains that are present. So for >99% of beers the alcohol is not going to change given more time, unless it is infected with a pretty voracious yeast/bacteria.
    RDMII likes this.
  19. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Disciple (362) Nov 21, 2008 Texas

    Still funny to read stuff like this.
  20. StoutSnob40

    StoutSnob40 Poo-Bah (2,167) Jan 4, 2013 California
    Premium Trader

    Stone RIS?