A Test of Time and Patience

As a follow up to The Great Debate post I have decided to give readers some educational information that will help when purchasing and storing craft beer. We all know that winos have fancy wine refrigerators in their kitchens and expensive wine cellars in their basements, but did you know that craft beer can be stored just as wine? Most beer can be stored for a relatively long period of time but there are certainly styles that taste better with age. So, what is the benefit of aging beer? Simply put, as beer ages it tastes better and becomes more complex. Open up your wallet, buy two bottles, drink one upon purchase and let the other bottle hibernate for a year or more, open, drink and compare.

Beer Cellar

This guy is my hero!!

So, what does it take to build your own little beer cellar? Honestly, it doesn’t take much. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Store your beer upright. You don’t want cork issues to affect your napping beer. Storing your beer upright will also keep the yeast on the bottom of the bottle where it belongs. Upright storage will also decrease the amount of beer that is exposed to harmful light.
  • Store your beer in a cool area away from direct light. Beer and light aren’t friends.
  • Generally speaking, keep the temperature around 50 – 55 degrees and your beer will sleep with a smile on its face. Usually a closet or basement will suffice.
  • Don’t store beer in your kitchen fridge for the long haul. The trusty fridge can dry out your cork. You don’t want a dry cork do you?

What styles of beer are meant to store? I don’t know that there is a specific answer to that question. Add it to the list of great debates. As a general rule, most beer can sit 3-6 months in ideal conditions. Some beers can store for a year and some can store for 20+ years, although do most brewers really know what their beer tastes like after a long storage period? Probably not. Anyway, here are some styles that will store for a year or more:

  • Tripels
  • Quads
  • Barley wines
  • Dark / Browns
  • IPAs
  • Double IPAs
  • Stouts

This is not an all inclusive list. Be patient, store your beer and see how it tastes in a year or more. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Here is a recent NY Times article on the same topic.