Saturday, November 14, 2009

Last Year's Beers

Winter seasonal beers have started appearing on store shelves and it's time to start drinking some of my favorite beers. But not the stock that is on the shelves now. No, I'm talking about the beers I stashed away last winter. While many winter-release beers are fine to drink right away, they are often even better with just a bit of age on them. Over the past few weeks, we've enjoyed several of these "old beers."

Not surprisingly to regular readers of these musings, one of the first beers to come out of storage was Clipper City Winter Storm. One of my all-time favorites, I've had a case stashed away since last fall. The 2009 release made it to the stores a few weeks ago. I've enjoyed quite a few from the stash already.

Tröegs Mad Elf is one that is eagerly awaited by area craft beer fans. I too look forward to its release. However, I am not a big fan of this beer when it's "fresh." Aging in the basement for a year serves to blend the flavors. I find the fresh version a bit harsh, but I'm certainly enjoying the previous season's batch.

Barleywines are great beers for holding on to. Old Dominion Millennium Ale is one we picked up last year, but saved for later. It seems a touch sweeter than I remember from last year.

In additional to barleywines, imperial stouts are perfect candidates for a bit of aging. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is a favorite around here. Indeed, there's a case from last year waiting to be enjoyed on a cool evening in front of the fireplace.

Of course, many folks store these, and other beers, for much longer than a year. I too, lay down a few bottles to keep for a longer time. But these are just a few that I look forward to enjoying after a short rest in the cellar. As the weather starts to cool, and I start hearing folks on the look out for their favorite winter seasonals, I'm ready. No trip to the store needed.

Naturally, I'll need to restock for next year!


  1. What's the best way to know if you can age a beer 1+ years... I know higher alc % beers and Imperials can stay longer, but are there any definite guidelines?

  2. Higher levels of hops also add to preservation of beer over longer periods of time. Hops do act as a preservative, there is a fancy name for that that escapes me right now. How will mellow over time and the effect on a beer changes over time to create a different beer after 1 or more years, in some cases. I just recently opened a 2007-2008 Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and, to me, it was past it's prime. The maltiness had left and it was a little dry and not as pleasant as when young.


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