OK, I get the picture; we’ve all been there. You have just thrown another $25 into the seemingly bottomless money pit that is the craft brewery market. For the average consumer, this comes with almost as much buyer’s remorse as paying for a Floyd Mayweather fight.
The natural reaction to this pang of guilt is to rip down your limited edition brew within a week’s time and begin a long and vexing cycle of reminiscence. But here’s the thing: Resist the temptation and maybe consider the prospect of cellaring your high-gravity beverage.
The benefits to this process are coveted. It’s one thing to snag a four pack of a rare release and drink it in front of your friends. It is an entirely new level of prowess to unveil a bottle of said batch five years later, gently guide the contents of its liquid metamorphosis into a chalice and sharpen your mustache as you channel your triumphs into one glorious sniff and sip. (That last part is optional, but dammit, it’s fun).
The first thing you need is a beverage to enhance. The most popular styles of beer to age are Imperial Stouts and Barleywines. Have you ever wondered why a correlation exists between mass elation and Founders tapping a keg of 2012 KBS? It is chiefly due to the fact that most beer consumers either aren’t aware they can accomplish this moment on their own, or are intimidated by the prospect. Don’t fall under either of these circumstances — fire up your DIY spirit! Other styles you might consider trying are Baltic Porters, Scotch Ales, Sours or practically anything Belgian.
The beer you decide to age should also contain an ABV of no less than 8 percent. A hoppy beverage should be avoided for the most part. Look for the brews that gain the majority of their identity from their malt characteristics.
The Room Conditions
The space intended for cellaring is paramount. The most important room conditions to consider are: Light, temperature and oxygen. By now, most people are fairly aware that light compromises the integrity of beer, that’s why brown bottles are the most commonly preferred among brewers.
Depending on the style of beer, a temperature of 50-60 degrees is the most desirable for aging. Assuming that you consume a variety of alcoholic products, 55 degrees will get the best and most consistent results. Hotter temperatures allow oxidation to occur at a much quicker rate. Nothing will thwart your plans of being a craft aficionado faster than oxygen.
Utilize your home
Tired of that Michigan cellar doubling as a catacomb of cobwebs? Consider making that the new resting place for all of your extra bottles of beer that meet the criteria. Closets that are located in lower floors in the center of your home will usually work nicely as well — just make sure windows are not present in either case. Remember, your beer is not looking for the gospel … it doesn’t want to see the light.
Spend a little dough
If you can swing it, wine refrigerators create the most controllable and sustainable environments for cellaring. When you get the hang of it, cellaring beer is almost as easy as purchasing it. It only requires a little patience. Give your collection at least six months and experiment from there. Cheers!