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In the Cellar: Don’t Age These Beers

When determining whether to age or not to age a beer, watch out for these four cellar no-nos.

Patrick Dawson May 8, 2017 - 7 min read

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RESPECT YOUR ELDER: KEEP COLD, DRINK FRESH, DO NOT AGE! Vinnie Cilurzo, co-owner and brewmaster at Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, California), plastered this (and many similar) warnings on the label of his double IPA, Pliny the Elder. They all center on the fact that he empathically discourages people from aging this beer. And he has a point, as one of the key events to occur in an aging beer is the fading of hops taste, aroma, and bitterness, something that’s rather detrimental to such beers as double IPAs.

And the fact of the matter is that while cellaring is rapidly gaining in popularity and can do incredible things for the right beer, the vast majority of beer on the market has no business being aged. Most don’t meet the prerequisites to survive a turn in the cellar without going stale, and even more bear qualities that are best enjoyed fresh and will only become muted over time.

When it comes to the prerequisites, the beer needs to possess one of the following three characteristics: strong, sour, or smoked. The high ABV, acidity, and smoke phenols act as preservatives that slow the aging of beer. And when a beer becomes too old, it loses its vibrancy and takes on stale flavors.

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