Subscriber Exclusive

Cellaring Dos and Don’ts

Patrick Dawson, the author of “Vintage Beer, A Taster’s Guide to Brews that Improve Over Time,” weighs in on best practices for cellaring.

Emily Hutto Sep 10, 2015 - 8 min read

Cellaring Dos and Don’ts Primary Image

Despite expert predictions, beers always seem to surprise us with what they can do in their old age. That’s the beauty, and the mystery, of fermentation science. Here are some of those surprises and exceptions.

DO cellar beer with high amounts of residual malt sugar.

After a beer’s primary fermentation, the more sugar left behind, the better that beer will age. Dawson calls those residual sugars “oxygen sponges” because they absorb oxygen in beer, which delays inevitable oxidation and therefore, off-flavors. Oxidation by-products adhere to malt protein and cause them to drop out of the beer, thinning its body over time. “Residual sugars help by supplanting the thinning malt profile as well as by providing a base for the new, developing sherry flavors to stand on.”

DON’T exclude drier styles of beer.

Relatively high residual sugar confers an advantage when aging beers, Garrett Oliver says in The Oxford Companion to Beer, “but some dry styles can fare well. Strong dark Belgian Trappist and abbey ales, for example, tend to age well, despite their relative lack of residual sugar.”

Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.