How to Cellar Beer
How to Cellar Beer Author: photograph by Christopher Hirsheimer The best beers for cellaring are either bottle-conditioned (i.
e., dosed with additional yeast at bottling) or bottled unfiltered so that some residual yeast remains in the container. Some good choices for cellaring—all of which meet this criterion—are Chimay Première or Grande Réserve; Duvel; Liefmans Goudenband or Kriek; Lindemans Gueuze, Kriek, or Framboise; and Boon Geuze (sic), Kriek, or Framboise (all of these are from Belgium; kriek and framboise are flavored beers, infused with cherries and raspberries, respectively); Samichlaus from Switzerland; Traquair House Ale from Scotland; Courage Imperial Russian Stout from England; Unibroue Maudite from Canada; and Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine Style Ale, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, and Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale, all from the United States. It is also possible to age selected filtered brews—Sam Adams Triple Bock is an example—but these should be at least 7.
5 percent alcohol by volume (the Sam Adams is nearly 17 percent!), and even then should not be aged for more than five years. Some general rules for cellaring beer: • Though it may be tempting to seek out beers that already have some age, it’s preferable to buy them young and then lay them down yourself, so that you can make sure they’re properly stored from the beginning. • Bottles with conventional crown caps should be stored upright to prevent contact between beer and capsule; cork-finished bottles should be laid on their sides. (Some Belgian ales are fitted with a cap on top of a cork; these should be laid down.
) • It is important to age beer in a cool place, preferably climate-controlled (55° to 60° is an ideal temperature range), away from any constant source of light. As is the case with wine, oxygen and light are beer’s worst enemies. • Cellar as many bottles of each beer as you can—at least a dozen or so. That way, you can monitor their progress by opening one every year—and when the beer seems to have reached its peak, you’ll still have a reasonable quantity of it to enjoy.
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