Is aging worth it?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by wesbray, Jan 10, 2013.

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  1. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Being reasonably new to the craft beer game, I have only recently begun cellaring a few bottles. Nothing too over the top, just a few bottles here and there to begin with, but its now beggining to look a lot like hoarding. Is it honestly worth holding on to them and aging them a few years or should I just drink the damn beer? I have a bottle of Thomas Hardy from 2006 that i'm dying to open, at least on a special occassion...
  2. westcoastbeerlvr

    westcoastbeerlvr Poo-Bah (1,690) Oct 19, 2010 California

    In general, No.

    Real, English Barleywines might be one of the few exceptions, as given time they can develop amazing caramel, toffee, and port-like charactistics. That process can take up to 10a years though. The 06over Thomas Hardy is drinking great right now. You owe it to yourself to at least open one bottle fresh for comparison's sake.
  3. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    My only concern with the Thomas Hardy is that I will probably not be able to get another one easily!
  4. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    I feel like a hoarder sometimes... I just can't bring myself to actually drink some beer. as bad as that sounds...
    smithj2154 and FreshmanPour77 like this.
  5. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    In my opinion, humble or not, most beers do not age well. Even with in the styles widely considered cellarable, there is only a small percentage of them that are truly worth extended aging. All beers will change but change does not equal improvement. I am not anti-cellaring, I just am very selective about what I would cellar.

    Thomas Hardy is one that does age very well. I would not hesitate to throw that in the cellar.
    Etan, Zimbo, FreshmanPour77 and 6 others like this.
  6. canucklehead

    canucklehead Poo-Bah (2,464) Mar 7, 2003 British Columbia (Canada)

    It takes some effort mostly mental to keep beers in the cellar but I have to say that cellaring is totally worth it for some beers. The Thomas Hardy 2006 is drinking nice right now but I love the 2004 so I am keeping most of my 2006's for another few years. Check on the cellaring forum to see what is worth putting down and how it is drinking .
  7. scud

    scud Aspirant (200) Sep 22, 2010 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Personally, I don't age stuff if I've never tried it before, if I don't know what it's like fresh/aged, there's nothing to compare it to so what's the point in aging it? That's just my reasoning.
  8. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I have a similar issue with horizontal and vertical tastings, i.e. I have about 8 Quads that i'm waiting to get more of so that I can compare them all...

    P.S. Sorry for posting on the wrong board!
  9. PGHbeer77

    PGHbeer77 Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Yes, it's worth it... as long as you like adventure, scientific experiments, and beer.

    Questioning whether cellaring is hoarding or not is basically asking, "Have you forgotten the experiment involved and just saved a bottle for the sake of looking at it?"

    Cellared beers are like guns. You should be willing to pull the trigger whenever it's needed.

    P.S. If you're new to craft beer, forget about cellaring all together and just educate yourself on styles and breweries.
    keysburg and crushedvol like this.
  10. cfh64

    cfh64 Defender (602) Aug 16, 2005 Texas
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I've recently started "drinking down my cellar". As some people have mentioned already, I've found that some beers age well but as a general consensus most don't. Ona somewhat similiar topic, verticals are always fun and interesting but IMO they aren't worth the time, storage space, etc. I live in a house and have "space" but when I have 10 different 5+ year verticals to keep track of and add to it just isn't worth it.

    To each their own though. Cellar a few beers that are known for doing well and figure it out for yourself. It's taken me 5+ years to have just recently come to the conclusion above.
  11. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,188) Mar 18, 2010 California

    No, it's a waste of time, money, and resources.
    ArrogantB and TheMaroon like this.
  12. krl2112

    krl2112 Crusader (719) Nov 10, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    So a couple of comments on aging. First, stouts and barleywines typically age well. IPA's, etc do not. I agree that aging just one bottle does not work well. What I would suggest is getting more than one bottle of whatever you are aging, drink one now andthen wait for some time on the other. That time can be 1yr to 5 or more depending on the ABV, etc. When aging, certain things can happen. For instance, if you are aging something like BCBS, over time the boozy (heat) taste/fell will mellow out. We recently opened a 2008 BCBS and it was very smooth and absolutely amazing. However, if you are aging a stout with coffee, note that the coffee will be strongest now and diminish in concentration over time. So if you like a stringer coffee taste, drinking it fresh is better for you. The hardest thing about cellaring is the waiting and not drinking them beforehand!! :slight_smile: If you are starting out now, you will initially feel like a hoarder. This is because you will be buying more than you are actually drinking for some time. Next year you will buy more but then start drinking some of your cellar so it becomes cyclical. Hope this helps with some of your questions, etc. Just make sure that if you are going to cellar, you have the right environment. In the simplest terms all you need is a cooler, steady temp area(preferably 52-55F) and it needs to be dark. Light is the worst thing for beer and then heat.
  13. DawgPhan

    DawgPhan Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2012 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    I think that there is a difference between aging and cellaring. For me, I put together a proper cellar because I had more beer than I could drink and I wanted to store it in an appropriate environment. Now it is still fun to pull out a bottle from last year and compare to a fresh bottle, but I am not looking to improve my beer, I am trying to make sure that I have the beer I want to drink, when I want to drink it and that I tried my best to keep the beer in good shape.
    je1129 likes this.
  14. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Being specific to the idea of Thomas Hardy ale...when I visit the West Coast in July, is there anywhere that would have any bottles for sale?
  15. bpgpitt10

    bpgpitt10 Aspirant (287) May 12, 2008 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    This doesn't really make any sense. It's non-active time so you aren't wasting any, prices on beers are really only going up so holding them might actually save money in the long run, and if you have plenty of free space then resource utilization isn't an issue.

    OP: Depends. Most beers are better fresh IMO. However, sometimes it's just fun to do the experiment to see how it changes. You'll have some pleasant surprises and some that disappoint you. One time I say it definitely is worth it is if you snag a 4/6 pack of a big beer that just doesn't agree with you fresh. Sometimes a few months can do wonders. That's exactly what happened to me with Palo Santo and Expedition Stout.
  16. garymuchow

    garymuchow Poo-Bah (2,815) Aug 31, 2001 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Is it worth it?
    It depends. Are you patient, curious, willing to fail, like the adventure of the unknown and have the space?
    Over the years I've learned which beers I like to age and others that I'm still curious on what aging may do. Overall I still enjoy the process and I'm comfortable with learning that some beers won't taste better with time, but I really like it when I hit a winner.
  17. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    in my experience, no - it is rarely worth it.

    but the key word is experience. i've actually tried it to see. it was the process of drinking my cellar down (btw, it was stored at a wine facility, not in a closet) that opened my eyes.

    i would recommend doing it with a handful of easily accessible beers: bigfoot, old stock, j.w. lees. resist the temptation to buy two of everything just to toss one reflexively in the cellar. a lot of beers don't need it and they simply become dull and lifeless with time.
    WeisGuy, jedwards and HopHead84 like this.
  18. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I'm thinking i'm just going to age the Thomas Hardy and drink through the rest of my (slightly) overwhelming collection (in relation to space in our house). Will certainly allow me to taste more beer in 2013, rather than the viewing party of 2012.
  19. Thickfreakness

    Thickfreakness Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 New York

    Ommegang Three Philosophers is BRILLIANT after 7 years! I opened an '08 GD Yeti recently, and I am so glad I have another! Also had a four year old Old Ruffian that was better than most barrel aged BW's I've had.
  20. allouez86

    allouez86 Initiate (197) Jan 24, 2009 Wisconsin

    There are beers that are worth it. I rarely age a beer over a year or two but if you stay up to date with the cellaring forum you'll quickly find out which beers can last longer than that 1-2 year window. Cellaring is fun and shouldn't be taken as seriously as it does sometimes.
  21. beercanman

    beercanman Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 Ohio

    I like it just for the fact if the mood for a beer that I have hits, I've got it. Others I'm gonna age the shit out of and do massive verts.
  22. jaIsPoAn

    jaIsPoAn Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2012 New York

    Barleywines boom
  23. loony4lambic

    loony4lambic Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2012 California

    Lambic, Gueuze in Particular
  24. El_Zilcho

    El_Zilcho Initiate (70) May 3, 2012 Virginia

    The 2 year old Sierra Nevada Jack & Kens ale I had earlier this year says yes it is a good idea. Just try to put stuff in that you know will work, mainly stuff with lots of malt like barleywines and imperial stouts. And just be prepared to chance it with anything else. I feel like some people place too much emphasis on whether or not it will get better. As long as it is still going to be good then it doesnt matter so much to me if it gets better, but what matters is that I get to drink a different beer from what it once was and it is still damn good. Ive only been doing it for a few years now, and my stash consists mostly of Sierra Nevada, Bell's, and Founders, with some random other goodies thrown in. So far the only significant let down Ive had was Dogfish Head Bitches Brew. And sometimes you have an amazing surprise like the Jack & Kens ale.
  25. stx00lax

    stx00lax Aspirant (225) Dec 27, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Honestly, I say go for it. You will get plenty of vets here who will tell you that in general, almost all beer is best consumed fresh. I agree with this 100%, but this knowledge comes from experience. And to me, those experiences were some of the most fun drinking times Ive had. Sure, you can enjoy something like bourbon county coffee fresh because we told you it was better fresh. Or you could save one for next year, compare the two with a friend and decide for yourself. Its the journey that matters in the end.
    beercanman likes this.
  26. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Devotee (490) Jan 2, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Take a look at Brux right now, it tastes like swamp ass, and in time rumor has it, it will be better.

    Dissident also is much better after a year+
  27. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (349) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the advice, I think i'm starting to get the right balance between aging and hoarding. I drunk through a few bottles that I will probably never be able to get again, and therefore have no real comparison to make. I'm still on the fence about the Thomas Hardy though!
  28. thedarkestlord

    thedarkestlord Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Illinois

    Just remember, the beer is meant to be consumed, save it till the time is right then bust it open. I used to worry about saving beer, but now I keep a select few and drink the rest.
  29. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Generally speaking there's too much emphasis these days on aging too many moderately structured beer for far too long. As my wife would tell you, I'm a terrible beer hoarder but with a few exceptions nothing much but the very best, very biggest and very rarest beers lasts longer than 3 years in my place and that's the way it should be IMHO.
    Still doesn't stop me from regretting all those old bottles of Thomas Hardy's Ale and Courage Imperial Russian Stout I was too greedy to save over the years.:slight_frown:
  30. nickapalooza86

    nickapalooza86 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2010 Wisconsin

    Some beers that are worth it IMO are

    SN Bigfoot
    Founders Imperial Stout
    Bells Expidition
    Most Barleywines/Barrel Barleywines
    North Coast Old Stock Ale
    Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale

    Not Worth it
    Old Rasputin is perfect out of the block and always around so really no reason
    Anything with the word COFFEE in it
    Anything Hop forward be it a Barleywine, Stout that you enjoyed that way.

    For me personally, I have a cellar with way to much beer but only about 1/5 of it is actually aging on purpose. The rest is stuff like Founders Backwood Bastard, NG Coffee Stout, FBS and Central Waters Boubon Barrel Stout that I stock enough to hold me over to the next release. Call it hoarding, I just call it plannin ahead!
    mstobbs likes this.
  31. CityofBals

    CityofBals Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2012 Illinois

    If there is absolutely one type of beer that you should be aging, it is Lambic. Everything else is an afterthought.
  32. forgetfu

    forgetfu Initiate (174) Jul 27, 2007 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I've been cellaring since 1993 and it's a lot of fun. But as everyone's pointed out, there are a lot of different reasons to cellar; you need to understand why you are cellaring and what you're hoping to accomplish.

    My cellar has taken on quite a few different profiles over the years as I've tried different combinations of styles, aged beers for different reasons, went on a vertical kick, etc.

    My current cellaring strategy is to drink down all american sours, imperial stouts, and belgian non-lambics. Once i've completed this, my goal is to have a cellar that is:
    80% lambics
    10% true english barleywines
    10% beers that i'm holding onto for a specific or special reason (such as a personal favorite that i want to have around for the year).

    Overall, i'm not trying to reduce the size of my cellar. It held 800 bottles before, it will likely still hold 800 bottles. However, after i finish this current re-shaping, I hope that it will hold only about 100 unique beers that I enjoy, that I believe they cellar well, and that I want to drink whenever I"m in the mood.

    Hopefully, my latest cellar incarnation will not see nearly as much turnover (ideally around 80 beers in, 80 beers out annually (10% turnover)).
    CityofBals likes this.
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