Aging beer - Start your own Cellar
Much like fine wines, beers can be aged.
This is because most fine beers are "living" products where the yeast is still very much active in the bottle.
Almost all beer requires some degree of maturing. In most cases this has already been done by the brewer. However there are many beers that will continue to improve after release from the brewery.
The key factors that influence a beer's ability to age well are:
Alcohol strength – the stronger the beer, the better it will age. This is partly because alcohol acts as a preservative. Anywhere around 8% ABV and above is a good guide.
Colour – darker beers tend to age better than light beers. This is because they tend to have more fermentable sugars. There are obvious exceptions though: Belgian Triples, such as the Trappist Westmalle Tripel, can age very well. Lambic beers are also prime candidates for the cellar (most having already been aged for several years at the brewery). Wheat beers on the other hand tend not to age well at all, they should be drunk as fresh as possible.
Bottle size – the larger the bottle the better. This is because the larger volume aides further fermentation and is also a reason for the resurgence of the use 75cl bottles among brewers.
Bottle conditioning – much like a maturing cheese, live yeast in the bottle means the beer has the means to lead a wonderful life in there, just waiting for its owner to choose the right moment to open it! Filtered beer doesn't age so well and don't bother aging pasteurised beer.
We’ve started our own cellar at The Beer Boutique and will be offering aged examples for sale in due course. Also look out for a Cellar Tasting event, where we will taste different vintages of the same beer.