The Humble Beginnings of a Beer Cellar (Help Wanted)

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by AdamSMiller, Oct 8, 2012.

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  1. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    Cheers fellow beer geeks,

    I've been enjoying craft beer for several years now, though, I just recently decided to start cellaring beers. So far I have accrued the following friendly faces:

    Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
    Stone Imperial Russian Stout
    Stone Old Guardian
    Hair of the Dog Adam
    Mikkeller Beer Geek Cognac
    North Coast Otsuchi Old Stock 2012
    Widmer Brothers South By Southwest Reserve

    I was wondering if those of you better versed in aging beers could lend me your advise. Generally, I'm curious as to how you think the aforementioned beers will age, and what beers you would recommend. I've heard good things about Thomas Hardy's Ale, and wouldn't mind getting my hands on a bottle... any information would be kindly appreciated.

    In addition, I also thoroughly enjoy "better served fresh" beers. So, if you've got the lead on the newest IPA-bad-ass or the like, let me know.

    Thanks to all,
    and I look forward to further assimilating into the Beeradvocate community!
     
  2. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

  3. JohnB87

    JohnB87 Initiate (0) Mar 14, 2011 Michigan

    This will probably get moved to the appropriate forum, but there are many answers there, depending on where you live (and what you can get).
    Consensus: SN Bigfoot, Bell's Expedition, Stone RIS, Founders RIS...

    Some people may recommend aging barrel-aged beers, but honestly, these beers weren't meant for aging in a cellar. A lot of barrel-aged beers have already been aged and are ready to be drank right meow.

    For the most part though, I think you have a pretty good grasp on which beers would benefit from the aging process.

    Cheers! And please post your results!
     
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  4. podunkparte

    podunkparte Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2009 Washington

    Which ones have you already had fresh? Otherwise there's no point in aging a beer you don't know fresh.
     
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  5. ThickNStout

    ThickNStout Initiate (0) Mar 8, 2011 Georgia

    When you can afford it, cellar multiple of the same beer so you can check at different intervals to see how it develops over time and determine how much age is right for your tastes.
     
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  6. NWer

    NWer Initiate (0) Mar 10, 2009 Washington

    I respectfully disagree with the notion that you have to drink something fresh before cellaring in order to compare the results later. For one thing, I'm not going to remember that clearly what something tasted like two years ago (or whatever). If a beer gets better over time it will taste just as amazing whether I already had it or not.
    I have a lot of beers in my cellar that I've never had - yet - and I'm fine with that.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
  7. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    I think the point is how will you know if it got better or worse?

    If you take detailed notes on a beer you are trying fresh you can certainly have something to compare when you crack one open with some years on it.
     
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  8. NWer

    NWer Initiate (0) Mar 10, 2009 Washington

    I agree. My point is it's not absolutely necessary to the enjoyment of cellaring - operative words "have to".
    Cheers.
     
  9. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    You can also cellar something and then buy a fresh one in a year or two and compare the fresh vs your aged one.

    Regarding how you tell what will age... ABV definitely helps as an indication. Big stouts, old ales, barleywines are all good candidates, so you have a nice start. My opinion is that you can definitely age barrel-aged beers and the taste will evolve over time - whether anything improves with age is opinion as well.
     
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  10. pitweasel

    pitweasel Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2007 New York

    For what it's worth, with so many different beers out there, I don't place too much significance on better/worse when it comes to cellaring. First time I ever had Oak Aged Yeti, it was a bottle that my brother had been cellaring for three years. It was amazing. Loved it. I still don't think I've actually had it fresh, and I don't care if I'm missing a "better" beer because of it. There are plenty of other stouts that I love fresh.

    I'm sure many will disagree, but I don't view cellaring as primarily a means to a "better" beer. Sure, it would certainly be nice to know that I've made a beer taste better by aging it, but I'm just as content to know that it's simply delicious in a different manner (maybe smoother, or a different flavor has come out more) due to time.
     
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  11. iwantmorehops

    iwantmorehops Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2010 Vermont

    Keep in mind that many barrel aged beers are blended with fresh batches before bottling to tame the flavor of the barrel, so a large portion of the beer you buy in many cases is not aged. Then of course theres the whole barrel aged sour category that is undoubtedly a style that can be aged for a long time.

    There are very few beers in my cellar I haven't had, most are just being saved for special occasions in the near future, and a few I've been assured by friends that will be better a little down the road. I stick to this method not just for the ability to compare, but because there are so many beers out there that are going to get worse with age. I get disappointed in shitty beer often enough, it seems pointless to gamble by aging something you've never had for more then a year.

    My direction with my cellar has been to stock up on beer I love and know will age well, so that I can have verticals to better understand the aging process, and of course to drink lots of good beer.

    OP Your list of brews looks like a good start, an 08' Stone IRS turned me on to stouts and aging beer. North Coast's old raspy is a great beer too, get yourself some BigFoot if you like barleywines, I like Belgian Strong Dark Ales as well. The only one on you list I would think about drinking soon is the Beer Geek, the consensus on this site is that coffee fades pretty fast, but I've never had the Cognac
     
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  12. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    Then you have to take into account batch/year variation.
     
  13. Gosox8787

    Gosox8787 Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2009 New Hampshire

    If you plan on cellaring Adam, which is a very good choice, I would suggest checking out this post by Arbitrator. Should give you a pretty good idea on what to expect.

    http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/adam-vertical-results.22175/

    I guess my only advice on your list is to not sit too long on the Beek Geek Cognac. Part of the appeal of those beers are the greta coffee flavors and those come through best fresh in my opinion. Good luck.
     
  14. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    Out of the beers I mentioned above I've only had the Stone IRS fresh. Everything else, barring the Old Guardian, are pretty hard to come by in Ohio. I really enjoy stouts, but admittedly I've never had one with some age on it. Starting this cellar is my attempt to begin the process.
     
  15. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    Thanks for the advice pertaining to the Beer Geek Cognac. I appreciate the insight regarding the coffee flavors.
     
  16. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    Yeah, I can still remember the first time I guzzled down a bomber of New Holland Dragon's Milk. What a revelation that was!
     
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  17. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    I can absolutely see where you're coming from. As much as I enjoy drinking delicious beer, I've also always been a serial hobbyist. Over the years I've seen myself accrue a vast array of hobbies. While I most definitely plan on enjoying the beer I plan to cellar, the prospect of monitoring their condition and adding to the collection is just as alluring.
     
  18. RDMII

    RDMII Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    True, but some beers like Dragon's Milk can be incredibly hot when fresh (which I like but some don't). A year really tames the heat without damaging the underlying flavors too much.
     
  19. mocktm

    mocktm Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2011 Virginia

    Just opened a 2010 Bitches Brew a couple days ago. I thought it was pretty tasty, superbly smooth as well.
     
  20. thepeter

    thepeter Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2005 England

    The regular North Coast Old Stock Ale Ages fantastic!! I would pick up a bunch and have them at differing vintages. Otherwise, you are doing a good job adn your cellar will grow faster than you think it would. Also don't worry too much about any new Thomas Hardy's. It was the one's before 1999 that were really excellent. Pleanty of Barley Wines out there that are easy to get, inexpensive and age beautifully.
     
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  21. fvernon

    fvernon Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2010 Wisconsin

    this is becoming a well-worn comment of controversy (as are most universal claims to truth) on here... and in a sense i can understand the point. many have been aged for a while, and are released at the point the brewers find their product ready (or at least we like to envision the brewers in this industry beholden to no one and nothing but the beer, and not marketing, financial necessity, etc.), however, you're in a tricky situation: your tastes and the brewers' tastes may not add up. point of reference: i very much enjoy Allagash Curieux, but when newly bottled i find the balance a bit jarring. After about a year or two in the cellar, the barrel and tripel coalesces into a thing of beauty, at least for my palate.

    so i wouldn't be afraid to cellar barrel-aged beer; but, as this poster points out, if you can, try it fresh as well - just in case you find it suites you just fine.

    enjoy building your cellar; asking good questions, keeping an eye on the cellaring forum, and checking out reviews of brews you think you may want to age in case anyone is reviewing their own cellared versions are good ways to track down some additional info. the rest is an intelligent method of experimentation.
     
  22. shand

    shand Meyvn (1,439) Jul 13, 2010 Florida
    Trader

    I'd pull the SXNW out of there. Chili flavors fade relatively quickly, and I don't see the nut additions and relatively thin body lending that well to aging.
     
  23. AdamSMiller

    AdamSMiller Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2012 Ohio

    Thanks for the heads up.
     
  24. Jugs_McGhee

    Jugs_McGhee Poo-Bah (9,743) Aug 15, 2010 Louisiana
    Society Trader

    Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
    Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
    Chimay Blue
    Rochefort 8
    Rochefort 10
    St. Bernardus Abt 12
    I agree that the regular Old Stock Ale ages well.
    Deschutes The Abyss
    Victory at Sea
    La Folie
     
  25. strangebrew321

    strangebrew321 Initiate (0) Feb 18, 2009 Indiana

    Solid choices so far. I would also recommend the following:

    Bigfoot
    Three Philosophers
    St Bernardus Abt 12
    Aventinus Eisbock
    Strong Trappist Ales
    Bourbon County Stout

    Get a few bottles of each and try them periodically to see how they develop and change with age.
     
  26. RDMII

    RDMII Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    While I agree on this, I also think if you're not a big spicy beer fan you should age one and see what happens. I couldn't stomach a full fresh bottle, way too much chili for me, but I really liked the flavors underneath it. Much like Terrapin's 2012 Reunion, I feel it was a much better beer without the chili they used in 2011 because it let the cinnamon and vanilla shine through. To each his own of course, but if I had an extra $12 I'd love to see what the SXNW does with some time.
     
  27. DonDirkA

    DonDirkA Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2011 Arizona

    Yeah I was gonna say the same thing. This beer is awesome fresh (or relatively fresh, I'm not sure how old mine was but it was off the store shelf). I feel that aging it may unbalance it a lot. The cognac flavors come out VERY strong but the coffee balances it and it makes for an awesome brew. If the coffee fades too much the cognac may be too powerful. We'll see though if you decide to keep it.

    I agree with this. SXNW is also a great beer, but it doesn't really lend itself to aging IMO. But the great thing about cellaring is that each person can do their own thing to their own taste. However, if you haven't tried SXNW fresh I'd suggest giving it a try. Its so great, you don't want to miss out on that.

    I have a 2011 Bitches Brew that I'll be drinking in the next week, Stone IRS does great aged, I'm sitting on a 2010 right now, I've never had Stone OG aged, but fresh you can definitely tell it lends itself to aging. I haven't had any HotD or North Coast Otsuchi Old Stock. I have had Old Stock and I had one after about a year of age and it was great but it seemed to get kind of syrupy. But that was early in my cellaring days and I didn't know about proper storage.

    But as said before: barleywines, stouts and strong ales and pretty much guaranteed good candidates. And pretty much anything with a high ABV. Sometimes IPAs with a high ABV will age well. I know the hops disappear and that may be disappointing, but they sometimes almost turn into pretty awesome barleywines.
     
  28. genuinedisciple

    genuinedisciple Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2010 Michigan

    Says the guy with 100s of BAged cellared beers.
     
  29. JohnB87

    JohnB87 Initiate (0) Mar 14, 2011 Michigan

    I guess my original comment was a pretty general blanket statement that can't be applied to every beer. I also think there is a big difference between cellaring and storing. Many new beer people don't understand that the vast majority of beers don't turn into awesomeness.
    That said, keeping some around the house for "emergency" purposes may not be a bad idea. :slight_smile:
     
  30. genuinedisciple

    genuinedisciple Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2010 Michigan

    I can't believe you responded to my snarky comment...I'm the guy that walks into your cellar with his straw and drinks your milkshake, I drink it up!

     
  31. JohnB87

    JohnB87 Initiate (0) Mar 14, 2011 Michigan

    I don't take shit from anybody, especially you.... :grinning:
     
  32. thepeter

    thepeter Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2005 England

    A five year old Rochefort 10 is an absolute thing of Beauty!! I drink the St. bernies fresh for the most part but if you are in the US and don't have a lot of $$ to spennd, stick with US Barley Wines and "Belgian Style" Quads and Imp Stouts. Great bang for the buck and all age great
     
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