Taking the advice from an employee at a local brewery, we decided to make an attempt at aging beer. At first, we thought it was a simple matter of putting the bottles on racks and leaving them for at least a year. But after reading into it more, and asking the advice of the brewery, it was suggested to store the beer upright due to many different factors.
Last year was the first year I made the attempt and realized after drinking the one beer that survived my cravings during the months that the wait is worth it. Beer can be aged just like wine. It's obvious that if you're buying a beer to age, you probably enjoy it. But make sure you buy enough to drink some now, and enough to put some away. There are just as many factors to consider like in the wine cellar business but you can keep it simple by applying these rules to your "beer cellar".
- Keep the beer out of direct light. The affect of light can quickly ruin your beer making the moment you open that bottle a year or more later a big disappointment.
- Just as important as light, keep it away from any heat source. Right now, my stash is placed within 2 feet of my furnace. Although we haven't turned on heat our, I know it will have to be moved before winter begins. Heat will just as quickly destroy the beer.
- Store your bottles upright. Unlike wine, beer should be stored just as it is in the store, standing up. There are two basic reasons for this. First, standing the beer laying down will allow the yeast to settle on the side of the bottle. After storing my own in a wine rack before learning about this, I was witness to this and it can throw off the flavor of the beer. Second, you want to keep the liquid away from the cork, or other capping device. In the case of cork, there are a slew of different reason to keep the beer away from it which you can find all over the internet.
- A good rule of thumb to follow is this, Larger = longer, Smaller = shorter. This is in regard to the ABV content. Larger ABV beer will be able to age longer and not spoil therefor allowing more changes to happen within the bottle. With smaller ABV's, less time aging due to a quicker spoil rate won't allow for such unique changes to occur.
- Buy and store the beer at room temperature. There are two reasons for this. One is for the actual beer, the other is for you to save money. Most of the time, your basement will be slightly above 60 degrees(F) on average through out the year. That's unless you have a furnished basement. This is a pretty good temperature to keep all your beers. Unless you wanna get very very involved, there isn't too much need to worry about humidity levels. The other reason for room temperature beer, is so you don't run a second fridge! The refrigerator is one of the costliest appliances in a house to run. Save yourself the money by buying and storing at room temperature. And then use the money you saved to buy more beer to age!
- If you don't have a basement, put aside a little corner in a closet to store a few beers in. You will get a low light environment and will just have to ignore the higher storage temperature.
- Lastly, DON'T DRINK THE BEER FOR AT LEAST A YEAR!! This is by far the biggest challenge in the whole process. Mostly all the other requirements are easy to meet as long as you aren't homeless. Ignoring a glorious stout that came out in the beginning of the year around time for Thanksgiving, or avoiding that 6 pack of summer ale you bought in april during a warm spell in September is the hardest thing to do. Have strength and know it will be worth it in the end.
Cheers! And Happy aging!