Cellaring FAQ

Discussion in 'Cellaring Beer' started by stupac2, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. stupac2

    stupac2

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    There are a few different things here, so let's unpack it a little.

    0) Is making claims of aging potential useful?

    No. Everyone's palate is different to the point where these things just aren't meaningful. They're basically just marketing. Though getting some insight into what the brewers think about aging their beer is sometimes useful on the margin, it's so woefully inadequate compared to personal experience as to not even merit mentioning alongside experience.

    1) Are American breweries' claims of aging potential based on anything?


    By and large no, they're just marketing bullshit. Deschutes is famous for this, their "best after" thing is insulting to anyone who knows what's going on. Goose Island at least can claim that they have that much history aging BCBS, but my bet is that they started putting that on their bottles long before they actually had any experience with it. Though 5 years seems right about where BCBS starts falling off, so at least they were about right. RR's markings are pretty aggressive too, but, again, though they have the experience with it, it was basically just guessing when they started doing it (and afaik they haven't changed their dates). And, as I said above, this will fluctuate wildly with personal preference, and to a lesser extent, storage conditions.

    2) Are Belgian breweries' claims of aging potential based on anything?

    Yes! Cantillon has been brewing more or less in the same way for over a hundred years. Even their relatively new beers have been around for 10-20, and those are such minor variations on old styles that how they age can be extrapolated pretty well. This goes for pretty much all of the Belgian breweries, because even the new ones are making those classic styles in the same way (and often with the same lambic). But, as before, how much age you like on these will vary considerably.

    2a) Aren't you being a little bit dismissive of the Americans' claims? It's not like "stout" is a new style.

    Yeah, but "barrel-aged stout" sure is, it's been around for 20 years at most. And American Wild Ales are even younger, and the experience brewing and blending them just hasn't built up to the same levels as the Belgians yet. Also, a lot of these beers have adjuncts in them that are pretty new, or processes/bugs that are new. Knowing what will happen to them with age will take some time. I think that, by and large, BCBS or Vinnie's stuff is there now, but things like Black Butte XXV just aren't. Even for a brewery that largely knows what they're doing and has been for a while, but does it with a new product (like GI with King Henry or Bramble) making those aging claims is little more than guessing. Which is why I said that they're "mostly bullshit".

    3) Is there an accelerated aging process?

    NO.

    I want to be emphatic here. You will sometimes see claims that aging at higher temperatures makes things age faster, but this is misleading at best. In general chemical reactions proceed at higher rates at higher temperatures, but those increases:

    1) Aren't linear (that is, an increase from 50 to 60 is, in general, not going to speed up a given reaction by the same amount as an increase from 55 to 65).
    2) Aren't the same (that is, not every reaction increases at the same rate with temperature).

    Also, this is completely ignoring that some reactions have minimum energies needed to happen, so a reaction could basically never happen at 55 but might go like gangbusters at 80, while the other ones have barely increased.

    As a demonstration, production of the "cardboard" flavors we all know and love from over-oxidized beers are strongly dependent on temperature, such that they take years to form at 55 but hours at 110.

    So there's no way to speed up the aging process such that it'll be a meaningful replication of the natural one.
     
  2. BusinessSloth

    BusinessSloth

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    TL;DR.













    Kidding. That was actually a great read. Thank you
     
  3. kirbmeist

    kirbmeist

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    Apr 14, 2013
    Location:
    Winter Garden, Florida
    Poor little feller
     
  4. kirbmeist

    kirbmeist

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    Awesome job stupac2 had a couple questions and this answered them all.
     
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  5. Compton25

    Compton25

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    Oct 5, 2013
    Location:
    Texarkana, Texas
    My apologies if this has been answered elsewhere (couldn't find anything).. but does anyone have a way to lower the humidity in a beer fridge? It is starting to dampen the labels, and I need a solution as most of these are for long term storage. Thanks in advance!
     
  6. stupac2

    stupac2

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    Oakland, CA
    It hasn't, but I think that's a fairly generic problem that google should be able to solve for you. For instance, here's a random thread that suggests you check the seal: http://www.englishforum.ch/general-off-topic/110263-high-level-humidity-fridge.html

    (Checking the seals makes sense to me, since fridges desiccate air in general the only way humidity builds up is if it's being constantly introduced, which it shouldn't be with a good seal.)
     
  7. duketheredeemer

    duketheredeemer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Now in Portland!
    It's condensation from the warm, moist air coming in from outside. Open the door less is the snarky answer, but assuming you're not just opening the fridge to grin at your beers like a moron for an hour a day, I'd say invest in something like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002DZMJ90/?tag=talkbecom09-20

    swapping it out every month or two. I used something similar in an old car I used to have and it worked great. Also, periodically take the time to remove any standing water that might build up in your fridge.

    EDIT: Also do what Stupac said. If your seal is busted, you're gonna get tons of moisture no matter what.
     
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  8. Compton25

    Compton25

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    Oct 5, 2013
    Location:
    Texarkana, Texas
    My beer fridge keeps my long term and short term beer, so it's opened every other night or so. The Texas weather doesn't help things either. I'm going to try the dehumidifier you suggested. I don't mind the labels getting a little damp, but I would hate to send someone a bottle with a shitty label on it. Thanks for the tips stupac2 duketheredeemer
     
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  9. backfat

    backfat

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    Apr 10, 2013
    Location:
    I'm from Indiana
    I have a freezer in the top of one of my fridges that was getting too moist when I first got it. I put a Sham-WOW™ up there and ring it out once a month. Never had a prob since.
     
  10. PurityControl88

    PurityControl88

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    Sep 29, 2013
    Location:
    Omaha/Topeka
    Does anybody have any info regarding Dieu du Ciel US bottle dates? I tried to email Dieu du Ciel but they never responded. I recently received two bottles of Peche Mortel and was told one was a bottle of 2011 and the other a bottle of 2012. However, I'm unsure of which is which. One bottle has a twist cap and the other a regular cap. Also, one bottle has a much lower "fill line" than the other. Any idea as to which bottle is which year? One has notches on #3/#2 and the one with the lower fill line has notches on #1/#7. Any feedback is appreciated!
     
  11. dvnb

    dvnb

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    Location:
    West LA Fadeaway...
    If option A is my fridge (average temp is 40-42) or B my closet (average temp 65ish, though in the summer might exceed 70 at times), my best option is A?
     
  12. stupac2

    stupac2

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    That depends a lot on your goals. If you intend to keep the beer for a few months then it doesn't matter much unless the temperatures are getting really hot (80+). If you want it to last years and years then you don't want it getting too hot, though I personally think the 65-70 range is fine. I'm wary of extending aging much above that, though.
     
  13. Ding

    Ding

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    I've taken a different view on this subject in the last couple of years and wrote about it, here. I'd like to hear what you folk think.
     
  14. stupac2

    stupac2

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    Oakland, CA
    As far as I can tell your main substantive reason for shrinking your cellar is that palate changes make comparisons through time meaningless, right? (There was a lot of other stuff in there, but I don't think that your issues with the beer scene pertain to cellaring per se, since you can enjoy cellared beer alone or in small groups, etc. The point about collecting is obviously true, but I like to differentiate between cellaring and collecting by only using the term "cellaring" to mean the act of intentionally aging beer to develop it, not hoarding to increase trade value, etc.) I think that this is a very non-trivial problem, and everyone will have their own approach to it. Personally I just don't really care all that much about comparisons through time. The reason I cellar beers is that I've had them with age on them, I enjoyed them that way, and I want to be able to recreate that myself without having to go through the various hassles involved with getting aged beer (usually traveling for me). I mostly age lambic, but I have some quads too, and a few other styles that won't go as long stored until I can get to them.

    Of course, I also have a good number of beers that probably shouldn't be aged and I just have them because of over-buying, but that number has been steadily dwindling through time as I've been buying less and drinking them. I think the number of "wasted" beers that I have now is <20, so I'm pretty happy with my progress there.
     
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  15. jedwards

    jedwards

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    SF
    Exactly the same for me. As a concrete example, I know I enjoy NC Old Stock with five years on it far more than fresh Old Stock, and I can't buy five-year-old Old Stock (for the most part). While palate variation over time can definitely make comparisons with old notes meaningless, I think the paths that beer takes as it ages and the specific flavors that develop with time in the cellar can be identified and enjoyed regardless of the ability to make a direct mental comparison with the beer fresh.
     
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  16. dvnb

    dvnb

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    Dec 6, 2013
    Location:
    West LA Fadeaway...
    Thanks for the advice stupac2. The ones I want to hold and enjoy over the years ahead are in a temp controlled climate at about 53. Others I'm just looking to get a year or two on before opening, sounds like those are fine in the closet.
     
  17. timos

    timos

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    Feb 25, 2014
    Good write up. Beers with live yeast, especially bottle conditioned should be stored vertically so that the yeast can settle at the bottom. Look in an empty bottle of Westmalle, notice the settled yeast, you wouldnt want that along the side of the bottle.
     
  18. stupac2

    stupac2

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    Why?
     
  19. timos

    timos

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    Feb 25, 2014
    If you are trying to pour the bottle without including the settled yeast. It can have a laxative effect as well as taste very bitter. Also if there is lots of settling yeast it can kinda form a "ring" where it settles. If the bottle has been stored on side for awhile it kinda looks gross once you hold the bottle up right.
     
  20. stupac2

    stupac2

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    Oakland, CA
    I just did this yesterday with a West Ashley, and it was fine. You have to tilt the bottle to pour anyway, I've never seen any indication that having the lees on the side actually results in getting more of them in a pour than having them at the bottom.

    I'm also really confused by calling yeast bitter. I could understand if we were talking about a beer that could potentially have hop residue settling out, but I've never associated yeast dregs with bitterness, and I've drank a lot of them.

    Anyway if you prefer to do it that way it's fine, I just don't think your rationale rises to the level of proscription (meaning your original statement that bottle-conditioned beer "should" be stored vertically).
     
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