Cellaring 102: Three Beers You Can Drink Now and Save for Later

Categories: Brew Blog

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Photos by Joshua Justice
I only bought Blood of the Unicorn because it looks like a dead horse album cover.
The last time we talked aging beer, we looked at basic do's and don't's of storing your beer. Simple stuff, right? Now that you know where you are going to put all that beer, it's time to go shopping.

With beer aisles now holding hundreds of choices, it's hard enough to find one to have during the game, much less a beer worth holding onto for a while. Here's a quick rundown of our top three picks for beers to age right now.

See also:
- Cellaring 101: The Basics of Storing Beer
- Putting the "B" Back in BYOB: 4 Great Beers for a Night Out to Eat
- Drawn by Drunken Toddlers: The 10 Ugliest Beer Labels

Remember: Multi-bottle packs are your friend. When you're first starting to age beers, big 22-ounce and bomber-sized bottles are a sucker's bet. Sure, big-format bottles look sexy with their fancy labels. And -- truth be told -- a lot of breweries' limited-edition and seasonal beers only come in those large-format bottles. Packs of smaller 12-ounce bottles, however, offer lots of advantages over their larger counterparts.

First, contrary to most grocery store buys, the smaller, multi-pack beer is often cheaper per ounce than large-format bottles of the exact same product. It's largely a marketing glitch that exploits the beer nerds among us who lust after these large-format beers. But trust me -- I've done the math -- six-packs are the value proposition a good portion of the time.

Additionally, buying multiples of the same beer offers you something buying a single bomber bottle does not: the ability to taste test your beer along the way. Unless you have already tried a particular beer, how will you know -- two years down the road -- if you are happy with the results of the aged beer? By buying several, you can try the beer now and also check in on it at various intervals along the way. Not only do you truly get to experience how the beer changes as time goes on, you will have a better chance of drinking the beer when you are truly happy with its flavor.

One final advantage of multi-packs is that you won't feel bad sharing. Sometimes it's hard to part with a bottle you've been holding onto for three years. When you have several, it's much easier to bring a bottle to a friend's house or out to a bottle share -- which is really the whole reason you age beer in the first place: to be the guy who brings the great beer. Everyone loves that guy. Besides, who wants to go to the liquor store and come home with stuff you can't open and drink? One for you, the rest for the cellar.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Guru Burgers & Crepes

2268 Texas Drive, Sugar Land, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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10 comments
rassul
rassul

Great article!  Informative & entertaining as always!  Only snag: it's a little unfair to call the brewer's bomber vs. six-pack choice a "marketing glitch exploiting beer nerds".  Big beers in six packs are usually only made by the bigger breweries that have automated bottling lines.  For teams as small as we, 4&6pks are physically & financially impossible.  I spent 6 months deciding whether to put Smoke on the Bayou & Gingerbread into 12oz or 22oz bottles.  We're only bottling 300 btls of the former and 400 btls of the latter, and their prices won't even reflect their true costs to us- we're undertaking this unprofitable & exhausting labor of love to thank the beer nerds who support us in bars, not to exploit them!

And to Steve's point- we've aged test batches of both of these beers in house and they are straight-up magic 6-12 months out.  That's the only reason we're bottling them- these runs are intended for aging & trading only.

kylejack
kylejack

@CynicalHouston Disappointed that none of your blog posts have been Josh yelling indiscriminately at birds. Was really looking forward to.

epikwhite
epikwhite

@CynicalHouston My, how the tables have turned.

Steve1152
Steve1152

I love it when people tell me how a brand new, never-made-before beer is going to age. 

KING
KING

That 512 pecan porter. Wish I would've saved mine.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@rassul It wasnt to imply it is intentionally meant to exploit, only that in some cases it can.  It was tongue in cheek(especially if you look at my first picture of my cellar, where 80% of my bottle are large format) not gospel.

Good talking to you this weekend btw.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt

@kylejack @CynicalHouston He keeps pitching the series (Yelling Indiscriminate Profanity at Passing Grackles, etc.) but we've passed so far.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

 @Steve1152 Barrel aged imperial stouts are brand new and have never been made before?  How wonderful for Saint Arnold to stumble on such a creation!

Steve1152
Steve1152

 @jajustice This is the first time for that particular wood-aged Imperial Stout. They're not all the same and there are a lot of factors that impact what is going to happen in the bottle.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Steve1152 @jajustice He just said it's going to be outstanding down the road. He's probably right. It's vague enough not to go into any specific flavors. Aging can be semi-arcane, but it isn't as if there are no guidelines. Boozy beers often benefit greatly from aging. Coffee flavors fall away. Hops fall away. A boozy beer like Bishop's Barrel (or DR12) has a strong likelihood of benefiting from a little time laying down.

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