Wine Talk

Snooth User: Charles Emilio

Can beer improve with age like wine?

Original post by Charles Emilio, Apr 16, 2010.

Excuse me if this comes across ignorant, I dont know much about beer elaboration.

ANyway I was wondering are there any types of beer that will improve with age ?

 

cheers

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Replies

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Reply by samantha gaw, Apr 20, 2010.

I guess I'm a bit late to this party, but...

While most beers merely lose flavor as they age, there are definitely some high-octane, large format, bottle re-fermented, and/or spiced beers which age well (similar qualities in wine also result in desirable aged character). Among the beer nerd community, holding vertical tastings of different vintages (5+ years back) of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale or other barleywine is not uncommon.

I've been privileged to sip from a few different 8 year old Fantome Saison big bottles from Tom Peters' personal cellar and first tried the 2004 vintage (brewage?) Carnegie Porter in 2009. Both were richer/silkier in mouthfeel and more fruity and complex in aroma that typical beers of that style or label.

Most Americans are drinking last year's Belgian Christmas ales by the time the importer gets them into the US and the weather changes enough for us to feel like drinking dark, alcoholic, spicy beers again.

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Reply by samantha gaw, Apr 20, 2010.

For non-beer nerds, Tom Peters is a highly regarded Belgian beer expert and Philadelphian beer bar owner. He's been knighted by whichever relevant Belgian governing body for his contribution to the spread of Belgian culture internationally. (hey, that impressed me...)

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Reply by penguinoid, Apr 20, 2010.

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the word 'Trappist'. Many Trappist beers age well. Chimary has been mentioned, but I've read that Rochefort (especially Rochefort 10), Orval and others can also age up to maybe 10 years... though I've not had a chance to try any aged Trappist beers myself, so feel free to take that with a large pinch of salt.

Here are some tasting notes on a few aged Belgian beers, that might be of interest:

http://www.winerambler.net/blog/wine-rambler-beer-tasting-belgian-trappists-plum-beer-chocolate-beer-dessert

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Reply by polkadotsalive, Apr 20, 2010.

beers most assuredly age, and how! belgian varieties most famously but most ales with some strength, say 8% or more, will see some maturing with time in the bottle. beers do not seem to go the distance of wine but i've found that with 1-2 and with some 5-7 years in the bottles you'll have a product that has done nothing but improve and come into its own,to  truly exemplify what the intital brew was meant to be. beer needs  time to relax as wine does. its even a new trend for breweries to release special 'reserve' series beers with a best after date on them, and their corect! these have been mostly barrel aged varieties like stouts, porters and barleywines, the wood elements tend to calm and blend over time. the fusel alcohol, strong vanilla and large bodied sweetness will fuse and calm themselves into truce after even a year. in particular, i've experienced 4 year vertical tastings of the Trappist ale Orval that starts to settle and highlight more fresh tropical fruit scents and flavours,and unusually but most enjoyably lots of bubble gum at about 2 years.

saisons, a style essentially hefeweizen but belgian and very spiced and grassy, earthy and rustic, swirling with body but ever quenching will after even a year show the sum of its parts clearer and with more definition. fantastic revelations!

beers that do not age well tend to be lagers and hoppy types like IPA's, the fresh aromatic and bitter hops do fade, although they technically preserve the beer like the alcohol does. you need to start with something string and robust.

I and my 40 cases of cellared beer can attest to the true maturing nature of yes, beer.

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Reply by Raija, Apr 27, 2010.

I like beer but would not consider myself a connoisseur. Given the choice, I would rather drink wine. But I'll never forget my encounter with a very young beer:

Genesee Beer, just an everyday American beer with no pretenses, is brewed a few miles from my house. Years ago, a friend who worked in quality control brought over a case that was rejected because the labels were on upside down. Well, that beer had just come off the bottling line and was fresher than it would ever be in a store. It tasted great! 

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Reply by winelover1985, Apr 29, 2010.

i actually  work @ a wine store we sell high gravity beers like dogfish head u can actually age that one its in a 750 ml bottle its called dogfish head black and blue that one u can drink young or u can age it

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Reply by winelover1985, Apr 29, 2010.

i would reccomend buying a couple drinking one young and then put the other one up to age it will have to be in a controlled environment like wine no direct sunlight etc...

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Reply by winelover1985, Apr 29, 2010.

u can see which way u like them better after a year of age

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Reply by TRONAVICH, Apr 30, 2010.

u guys should homebrew i made a beer with 15 pounds of cherries that was about 14% alcohol and funny enough im drinking 1 right now about 3.5 years of age its nice if it has enough alcohol it will usually age.

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Reply by zufrieden, May 2, 2010.

Look, beer was developed to be drunk within 6 mnoths to one year from fermentation.  If you buy something that has been oak-aged (or do this operation yourself on home brew) like Innis and Gunn, then there might be some validity to this aging mania.  However, aging beer in this way is really inventing an entirely new beverage.  Invent a name for it and I will follow any new developments associated with it.  Otherwise, forget it: beer is not a beverage like wine.  Maybe beer plus 1 is, but that remains to be seen...

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Reply by Mr Lee, Jul 4, 2010.

Stone Brewing Co. out of San Diego brews a small batch beverage every year as a release called the EPIC. They have developed a different brew for the past nine years or so. Last years brew in print instructed the buyer to let it bottle age untill 2012 before opening. But keeping in mind the Mayan callendar ends in 2012, I threw caution under the bus and drank that bad boy. And India Pale Ales were developed to supply the colonist from England in India. Lots of alcohol and extra hops acted as a preservitive for the long sea voyage which could take up to a year to reach it's final destination and would remain for up to 2 years in a barrel at the colonial pubs. IPA is terrible stuff but, folks like it. Give me a good Tuscan Red or a good chilled Frascati any day over an IPA .  Cheers and Happy 4th of July everyone!!!

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Reply by rbrownprop, Sep 22, 2010.

Well, it is interesting that the ones who admit to knowing the least about beer or to liking it less than wine are the ones quickest to dismiss the idea of aging beer.  The one exception is the chap who suggests that "aged beer" should be considered a different beverage.  I agree to an extent; a well aged Chimay Reserve is quite different from its fresh siblings.  Much like a family tree, beer can be branched from the broadest form of beer:  a fermentation of grain flavoured with hops.  Then its on to the next level:  ales and lagers (and "steam beer" if you insist America must have its own style--I do not).  Ales branch quickly to hundreds of styles as do lagers and of course there are the hybrids--ale yeasts in lager conditions and so on.  It would seem that "aged beer" would fall in line at the extreme ends of the branches at several places--all in line with high gravity, and most often highly hopped, ales and lagers of numerous styles.  But an aged Chimay Grand Reserve does not and cannot have enough in common with say a cellared Russian Imperial Stout from the Norwegian Brewery Nøgne Ø to form a new style of beverage though each cellars very well.  The tree branched much too long ago for these two be classed together.  Might I suggest the Old English word for beer--béor--be used as a modifier for "aged beer".  Thus a 10 year old Chimay could be called "Grand Reserve béor 2000".  Lastly, to those who say beer does not lend itself to aging at all, do I need to point out that by definition lagers are "aged".  Albeit this aging is prior to bottling; the fermentation is very slow as the lager reaches attenuation for weeks at very low temperatures.  Indeed the word "lager" is German for storehouse.  Sure, the length of aging for all beers is generally shorter than for wines but--like taste--it is relative.  Aged beer definitely has a place in beer culture.  I love wine, beer is my faith, béor or not.

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 22, 2010.

I take the points in your well-formulated post, rbrown, with respect, and personally like very much a wide range of beers (just had a half dozen each of Japanese craft beers and British pub ales on tap last night), though personally I'm not a huge fan of most any of the Chimay's I've tasted. But to go to the title of the OP at the top of this thread, I still say 'No'.

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Reply by rbrownprop, Sep 23, 2010.

dmcker, having reread the title of this thread, I must agree with you.  The qualifier "like wine" is the kicker.  Beer does not age like wine in a number of respects, the primary one being time required/allowed.  Another poster noted the lack of tanins in beer necessitating higher final gravity, IBUs, and alcohol in beers intended for the cellar.  I am certain there are many other distinctions.  I suspect we still disagree in the main:  I still--equally respectfully--believe that certain beers age well.  It remains a matter of personal taste and choice if nothing else.  BTW, I also believe that most beers are best right off the delivery truck or better yet in the tasting room of the brewery.  No one would suggest that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale should be aged (I would hope); but I cannot wait to try their Pioneer's Stout after aging (or any of their other 30th series).  There's the rub:  waiting.

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Reply by KDawson, Oct 4, 2010.

I'm a hobby beer brewer, and I can tell you that, depending on the type of beer, definitely YES.  I have a chocolate porter that wasn't that great at 1 year - now my friends call it liquid gold now that it's over 2 years.  Lighter lagers and ales are generally only good for about a 1 to 1 1/2 years - but some beers shouldn't even be touched until at least that point (Barleywines, etc) .  It really depends on the style of beer, and what additions to the basic malt/hops mixture have been made (spices, fruit juice, etc).

In other words - Bud or Coors, the fresher the better (if you can call it better).  Sam Adams Utopia or an Imperial Stout - you'd be a fool to drink these before they have a chance to age a little.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2010.

I had a 2005 Anchor Steam Chrismas Ale last Friday at a very interesting craftsbeer bar in Tokyo, called of all things CraftHead, that was definitely both interesting and good. Can't say if it had improved over these five years, since I never tasted it on release.

What wasn't so interesting was how an 11%er from Indiana put my mate under the table.

Still am curious about the 'improved', not the drinkable factor.

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Reply by joanty, Oct 4, 2010.

Very high alcoholic craft beer holds up pretty well.  The flavor changes, not necessarily gets better.. Just different.  I've sat in at quite a few beer tastings with our customers at our wine storage facility, and they've all been quite tasty.

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