Aging craft beer

on 28/10/10 at 12:49 pm

Beer

Like wine, cellaring is becoming increasingly popular in the beer world

I think the most surprised reactions I’ve encountered when talking to people who aren’t very familiar with craft beer have come when I’ve mentioned aging certain beers for extended periods of time. The only beer commercials you see on TV zealously promote the importance of freshness with their products. And with regard to their products, they are absolutely correct. Many beers are best consumed as fresh as possible, including the big brands with big advertising budgets.

And even many craft beers are best fresh. Hefeweizens, witbiers, pale ales, and most IPAs (in other words, the beers that comprise the majority of all craft beer sales) all have flavors that fade and dull over time. For the staples, fresh is best.

But many age quite well. Alcohol hotness mellows, hop flavor and bitterness decline and transform. Oxidation creates sherry flavors. Complexity increases as dominant flavors fade and a wider range of subtle flavors become more evident.

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