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Vintage beer? Some say brews taste better with age

on 12/01/15 at 12:44 pm


25beer-600In the late 1970s, a young Southern California beer enthusiast named Bill Sysak began doing something quite novel at the time. He bought cases of beer and stashed the bottles in his basement to age like wine. Over several years, Sysak discovered that some beers could develop rich flavors — like toffee and caramel — not present in their youth. Excited by what he found, Sysak ramped up his cellaring program and made it a full-time hobby.

Today, Sysak’s beer stash contains thousands of bottles, some acquired from other collectors and now more than 60 years old. Meanwhile, many more beer aficionados have begun experimenting with the art and science of aging beer.

“There is a huge subculture of people in the beer industry with cellars who are squirreling away bottles, just like with wine, to keep for years,” says Patrick Dawson, a beer writer and the author of Vintage Beer, which was released in March.

Sysak, who works for Stone Brewing Co. as its “craft beer ambassador” and who wrote the foreword to Dawson’s book, tells The Salt there is a considerable difference between aging beer in barrels — also wildly popular now among brewers — and aging beer in bottles.