Drinking the First Beer I Aged Myself…

The art of aging beer is something for which I have very little patience.  Jim and I make no bones about the fact that we don’t really age beers and that we think if beer is supposed to be aged that the brewers ought to age it before releasing them.  Some do, most do not.  That said we “accidentally” age beers sometimes.  It’s kind of like accidentally on purpose for me.  I just put them in the bunker and sometimes they make their way to the back of it and I know they are there, but there is other stuff I want to drink instead so there they sit.  I have a few brews like this, and this weekend I cracked into one.  My first “self aged” beer.

I’ve had aged beer on occasion before.  I had a 2005 Schlafly something or other which tasted ok, but had an olive aftertaste that to me says it was over aged.  And I’m sure Jim and I hit some aged stuff at the Rare Beer Tasting at GABF last year.  So I get it, aging can smooth out some rough edges on a brew.  So what was my first self aged beer?…

I had an ’09 Flying Dog K-9 Criuser Winter Ale.  As you can see from the picture I also enjoyed it with an Alec Bradley Tempest Cigar.  One reason I aged this beer was because I was afraid of it.  First of all Scott reviewed it over at the Brew Club and didn’t really like it too much.  He said it confused him and that he couldn’t really wrap his mind around what it said on the bottle and the web site vs what he was tasting in the glass.  So Based on this review, and several others I read online I just kept passing it over.

Well then it was out of season and I didn’t want a Winter beer in the summer, so there it sat.  Once this winter rolled around, I got really worried that it had skunked as it sat in my garage all summer.  Lots of 80 and 90 degree days.  So it sat some more, until about a month ago I brought it inside and put it in the fridge.  Finally I mustered the courage to crack it open and try it a full 18 months after I purchased it.

It poured alright, no excessive carbonation that can be a sure sign of infection.  It smelled ok, kind of malty, and very sweet raisiny scent.  So far so good.  Then I tasted it and…it was wonderful!

Roasty and full of sweet fruitiness, Plumbs, Raisins, hint of pineapple, and the over hopped flavor was gone, just a little pinyness on the finish.  It was great.  Nothing to be afraid of.  So I am now a believer that aging beer is a good thing.  It can really take an average brew to great places, if it is the right beer.  Sorry no Hefs, Pils or IPAs allowed in the aged club!  But a winter ale that is 18 months old?…I’m all in.  My next accidentally aged beer will be my 2007 Pannepot Belgian Quad.  Can’t wait!

-Don

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41 Comments on “Drinking the First Beer I Aged Myself…”

  1. April 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    You’re lucky. It’s not always a good idea to age beers you haven’t tried before cellaring. When I’m able, I like to try a beer at different stages of aging. This is where 12 oz. beers like a Founders KBS is perfect for aging. Conversely, I’ve been stocking Stone’s Epic Vertical Series to taste after 12/12/12. It should be interesting.

    • April 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      Forgot to mention that I’ve never tasted a Stone EV. That’s where the interesting part comes in.

      • Don
        April 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

        That should be interesting. Perhaps we can have a 12/12/12 party at Zac’s! I’ll bring the chips!

      • April 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

        My sister might have a problem with that. She’s been my mule since we didn’t get Stone (well, until TODAY, motherfuckers!). Her birthday is actually on 12/12. We have the special glasses and everything.

        Did I mention that Stone arrived in Missouri today?

        • April 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

          Is Stone some kind of beer?

          Oh yeah, that’s right – now I remember. That’s the stuff we’ve had here EVERYWHERE FOREVER. 😉

        • Don
          April 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

          Good luck, hope they stay. They have been pulling out of several states as of late.

      • April 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

        Whatever. You still live in New Jersey no matter how much you like to pretend that you’re New York.

        • April 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

          I like to pretend I’m in the mountains surrounded by fresh water reservoirs, deer and bears (that’s right REAL bears!).

          Oh wait, I am!!

          You can keep your New York. All I want is a fast internet connection, a little elbow room and some good beer.

      • April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

        Sorry. That last comment was uncalled for.

        • Don
          April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

          Uncalled for Discount…Whatever Discount.

        • April 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

          In many cases your comment would be right on.

      • April 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

        I’m not worried about Stone pulling out. We’re adding like five breweries this year and not losing one. I think we’re good.

      • johnking82
        April 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

        When you live in a state that isn’t famous my someone named Snooki…give us a call. The deers in NJ are weenie deers…easy kill for bears.

        • April 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

          For the record, I believe she’s from Staten Island. We can’t help it if she washed upon our shore like a drunken, insatiable whale.

          And New Jersey deer will cut a bitch.

      • The Wookie
        April 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

        Last time I checked we (NJ) weren’t famous for Snooki, maybe famous for trying to get her to go home. We are famous for Sinatra, Springsteen, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Douglas, Jerry Lewis, ….. just to name a few. Plus the biggest Governor this side of the Mississippi!

        And our deers are like WWII Kamikaze pilots that fear nothing, not bears nor my car!

        • April 20, 2011 at 10:50 am #

          Woot! Preach it, Wookie!!

      • johnking82
        April 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        Shit, I forgot about The Boss. All negativity towards NJ is retracted.

        We like our deer in Illinois (homestate) like our woman, big and cornfed.

        I’m sitting on a decent amount of beers aging…I need to start drinking more.

        • Don
          April 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

          Yeah, now that you have someone counting, you need a reason to head out to the beer store! Drink up.

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      If you wait until after 12/12/12 you won’t get the chance to try them as the world ends on 12/12/12. 😉

    • Bad Neighbor
      April 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      I’ll second the KBS aging. Take every single one you can find and hide it in the basement for a year.

      • Don
        April 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

        OK, but I can’t find any. I’ve got a few others that I will crack into slowly. I have a Highlands Scotch Ale from Bridgeport brewing that is about 18 mos old now. Might crack that one open soon.

  2. April 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    You still have that Pannepot I sent you? It’ll age well, but maybe not in your 90 degree garage.

    Please remember that I ACTUALLY do send you beers from time to time when you crack it open.

    • April 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      Yeah, you need a beer cellar or refrigerator. A closet at least. Garages were only meant to house cars and tools, not beer.

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      How could I forget? You remind me almost daily. My beers are kept in a covered box, and even when the ambient temp climbs they actually stay pretty cool. So they should be ok. Also a desert climate with low humidity and cool nights.

  3. April 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Hello Don,

    You lucked out with that accident (especially with the temperatures in your ‘craft beer aging bunker’). I came across a half of a mixed case of similarly accidentally aging brews in my garage last weekend and, based upon the extreme temperature fluctuations they endured, I resigned myself to pouring them down a drain as an homage to Sam Caligione’s tragic euthanizing of that batch of 120min on Brew Masters. In any event, I couldn’t bring myself to discarding any of yet so your post has given me hope. A few will have to go (some pales and IPAs) but a handful might greet me with a pleasant surprise.

    I do have a few Stone Verticals and an Imperial Stout or two in a more temperature controlled “Ale Finishing School Closet” but for the most part, I’m far too impatient to enjoy a fine craft beer (or even a pedestrian one) the year after next.

    Cheers!
    @TheAlemonger

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      I hear you. But I live in the desert with warm days and cool nights, they are kept covered and away from any direct light, and the garage always stays a little cooler than the outside. No windows to speak of. So it worked out. Give those beers a try. I drank a year old Titan IPA and it was actually really good. So who knows. Good luck.

  4. April 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Nice, Don! My aging happens the same way for the most part. I’ve got a bottle of Grand Teton 2009 Double Vision Doppelbock that I really must open. Since I purchased it, I’ve been waiting for a blizzardy day where I can sip that beer while looking at a winter wonderland outside. I’ve either had the time but no snow or tons of snow and no time to enjoy the beverage. So, it just sits.

    I have an Ivan the Terrible from Big Sky Brewing that I made a purposeful decision to age and a bottle or two of Uinta Labyrinth Black Ale that I am aging. Oh, and I have some Stone Verticals that are sitting tight (although I hear some of those are starting to turn). Beyond those though, most of my “aged” beers are chance. I like imperial stouts, barleywines, doppelbocks and hardy winter brews in general. Sometimes I just don’t get to all the ones I purchase in the colder months before the weather starts warming up. Then I move on to warm-weather beers.

    But as soon as it gets chilly again in the fall, it’s nice to be able to grab last season’s big, dark brews from the bunker when the mood strikes you.

    Glad your first aging experience was a good one. Can’t wait to here about the Pannepot Quad!

    • April 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Or better yet, to taste it! Just saying, the man can share, Chad.

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      Here’s a deal chad, we meet up at Brewforia, and I will bring my Pannepot and you bring your Ivan and we compare notes over a flatbread and some chips. Sound good?

      • April 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

        Sounds great, Don. But the Ivan doesn’t have but a few months on it yet. We’ll have to wait until next year. :^(

        • Don
          April 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

          I think 3 months in sounds like a perfect time to drink an Ivan. 😉

      • April 22, 2011 at 10:43 am #

        Well, I just happened to be at Brewforia at the right time, yesterday. Tatiana was cleaning an area up in the back room to make way for her new work area (she quit Saint Lukes and is a full-time Brewforian now). She happened upon two Ivan the Terrible bottles in the process—which haven’t been on Idaho shelves for months. Chris grabbed one and I grabbed the other.

        Still interested in sharing that 2007 Pannepot Quad, Don?

  5. Dianne Budde
    April 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    We are going to do a share & tell (instead of show & tell) during craft beer week…can’t wait to see what some folks bring in. I too have cellared some in cardboard boxes, but have some serious customers who are willing to share….great hearing about your good luck, hope ours goes half as well!
    Dianne Budde

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Sounds like a fun time Dianne. Hope there is a lot of interesting stuff for you to try. Come back and let us know how it went. we’re here all week…month…year. We have no lives.

  6. April 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Hmm. I remember reading somewhere that (unlike wine) beer should always be consumed fresh. I think it was in a reputable scientific journal or something . . .

    • Don
      April 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      It was fresh…fresh out of my fridge. 🙂

      • John Joyce
        April 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

        Just had a 2008 Goose Island BCS last week and what a difference! I like BCS but it’s a beer you chew on. After 3 years it was damn right friendly so I have changed as you have Don. Aging beer here is a rariety as it tends to be consumed rather quickly.

        • Don
          April 20, 2011 at 10:55 am #

          It is difficult to age beer, because they stare at me and call my name. Takes will power.

  7. beerbanker
    April 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    If you’ve ever tried a DFH 120 Minute IPA less than 2 or 3 years old you’ll be a FIRM believer in aging big beers. They’re less drinkable than turpentine until they’ve had a chance to mellow.

    I age beers for two reasons: 1) for the few undrinkable wonders, to render them drinkable. 2) can’t bring myself to kill off the last of a special brew.

    Example of #2 would be the four 2006 Sweetwater DonkeyPunch Barleywines I put aside. Popped the first when a dear friend hit 50 two years ago. The second followed when I hit that questionable landmark and the 3rd when another friend did similar this past fall. Lord only knows when I’ll be able to convince myself to pop the last, but they’ve made for some lovely memories so far…

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