While most beer styles should be consumed within 6 to 12 months of day they're packaged, there are some styles that may benefit from aging. Aging beer should not be confused with lagering beer, which is the process of cold storage to smoothen the beer flavor and aroma.
In general, beers with strong alcohol content can be aged. Look for beers with 8.0% ABV or higher, such as Barleywines and Russian Imperial Stouts.
Beers with higher alpha acids from hops (which act as a preservative) age better than beers with low alpha acids. Look for beers with IBUs of 30-100.
Darker beers age better than lighter ones. They are less suscepible to light/radiation.
Lambics and other sour beers age well. Their low pH acts as a preservative.
Ales age slightly better than lagers.
Bottle conditioned beers age better than pasteurized ones. The yeast used in fermenting remain, which help mature the
As beer is aged, the ambient conditions do affect the flavor and aroma. Beer should be aged in a cool, dark, still environment - not exposed to heat, light, or vibrations (including noise). These are all forms of energy. Adding too much energy to beer will cause it to age more quickly or develop off flavors and aromas - the excess energy allows possible endothermic reactions to occur.
Beer bottles with Belgian corks also need to have a high humidity. If the air is too dry, the wood/cork will dry out allowing the beer to evaporate and/or oxidize.
The ideal temperature is between 50-55 F (10-13 C).
The room should be dark - not exposed to long term sunlight or artificial light.
The relative humidity should be about 70%.
Beer should be aged standing vertical. This is necessary, so sediment in bottle conditioned beer can settle to the base.
The room should be still/quiet.
A cellar fulfills all these conditions almost perfectly, which is why they have become a standard beer storing location.
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