Delayed Gratification: Aging & Cellaring Beers

By Sarah Ritchie
March 25, 2015

De Keersmaeker Mort Subite Oude Geuze 1988 (Flickr/Bernt Rostad)

Fine wines and cheeses (and beer women) aren’t the only things that mature with age. Many craft beers can benefit from extended aging. Some of the styles of beers worth aging include Belgian strong ales, American strong ales, lambics, many sour beers, and imperial stouts without coffee.

With some beers, delayed gratification can be quite rewarding. Aging for a year or more can build complexity and lessen the alcohol burn of a high-gravity beer or a beer with a high ABV. There have always been craft beers worth aging available at your local bottle shop, but some breweries have started marketing beers specifically for aging or cellaring.

Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon couldn’t wait another five years to release Jubel, an imperial version of their annual winter ale that was intended to be released only once a decade. This American strong ale, with hints of toasted caramel, dates, raisins, and figs, is aged (50%) in pinot noir and new Oregon oak barrels for 12 months. This special release brew is stamped with a “Best After 1.24.16”  on back of the label.

Stone Brewing recently released “Stone Enjoy After 12.26.15 Brett IPA”. Enjoy After is an IPA spiked with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast, at the time of bottling, with the precise instructions to “Enjoy After” December 26, 2015. Stone recommends aging your beers at 50-70 degrees with a “do not refrigerate” warning.

In Tucson, you'll want a separate fridge or wine fridge set to 50º to 52º for cellaring beers. By all means, if you’re lucky enough to have an actual basement, stash those liquid treasures away down there and try not to think about them until time has worked it’s magic. If you want to start a lively conversation at a beer geek bottle share party, simply ask if it is better to age beer lying on its side or standing up. Let’s just say, the jury is still out.

Upcoming Local Beer Events

Wednesday, March 25

Borderlands Brewing introduces a special new lecture series this week called “Brewing the Future”. Tonight’s lecture is by Jean Masterson where she’ll talk about terraforming. More info

Saturday, March 28

Dragoon Brewing is offering a 60 minute Exude Yoga class this Saturday morning at the Dragoon Tap Room at 10:45am. $5 for the class, which includes an after class beer! More info on the Dragoon Facebook page

Tuesday, March 31

Tuesdays at Tap & Bottle mean Tuesday Tastings! Enjoy a flight of 5oz pours from specialty bottled brews each Tuesday at 5pm. This Tuesday, March 31 will feature a flight of Telegraph beers. More info

Sunday, April 12

Barrio Brewing is proud to once again offer both place and space to the Tucson Roller Derby to benefit the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and Tucson Roller Derby. On Sunday, April 12, from 11am to 4pm, bring your best canine friend to Barrio Brewing for a wash. The Tucson Roller Derby team will volunteer to wash your dog with all proceeds going to these two charities while Barrio Brewing will be donating ten percent of sales during those hours to the charities, as well. In addition, the team will have gift baskets to raffle off and commemorative pint glasses for sale. Music will be provided by Tucson’s own Shrimp Chaperone. More info


Every Sunday at 10:30am at Pueblo Vida is Pints & Poses. $5 gets you a yoga class and a Pueblo Vida pint after. More info

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