Monthly Archives: November 2013

Beer Storage / Cellaring

There are countless articles and much debate on the proper storage of and cellaring beer but I recently had a reader ask me to put together my thoughts so here they are. First I rarely buy a beer with the intention of cellaring it. The only ones I can think of are the few 12 oz bottles that I bought a 4/6 pack of – Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, etc. I typically would drink one and store the others for future consumption. However I do have what I like to call a “beer buying problem”. Like many craft beer drinkers I feel the need to buy that bottle of some newly released variety before it sells out and is gStorageone forever. Because of this I have amassed quite a collection of beer (see entire list here).

I decided to keep my storage as simple as possible. All of my beer is in boxes and kept in a storage room in my basement that is separate from the finished and heated part of my basement and not in the same area as the furnace. This room stays between 55 and 60 degrees year round. By using boxes in this room I take care of the two most important things; temperature control and light. Large swings of temperature, or storing beer too cold or too hot will shorten the lifespan and light is bad for beer.

Most craft brewers would tell you the beer is ready to drink when they release it, if it was not ready they wouldn’t let it out of the brewery. That being said there are some styles of beer that might benefit from some additional time in the bottle.

Styles

Some styles of beer should be consumed fresh including; IPAs, Double IPAs, pale ales and many lagers. These beers will get worse not better with age so keep them refrigerated and drink them fresh. Many higher alcohol beers including barleywines and imperial stouts are good candidates for cellaring. I also have quite a few saisons and brett beers stored away, not sure they will get better with age but unlike the IPAs and pales they shouldn’t get worse. I also figure anything that has been aged in barrels by the brewer could be stored away for some time without much consequence. I drink my beer in the following order – growlers first (fresh beer is better), if I don’t have a growler in the fridge than any bottled or canned IPAs or DIPAs, then pale ales. If I don’t have any of those I will move on to the other beers in my fridge and/or cellar. This is why you see so many reviews of IPAs and pales on my blog as I try to drink them first and often do not make it down the list to the other styles. Some people have better reasons for cellaring beer but for me it is simply I buy more beer than I drink.

Verticals

Some craft beer enthusiasts have what is referred to as verticals of beer that date back many years. A vertical in the beer world is an annual release beer that you keep a bottle of each stored away. Some famous examples include Anchor Christmas Ale, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Vertical Epic. While I have been drinking craft beer for years I was late to the vertical game so the only vertical I have is Rising Tide’s Polaris which only has 3 years. Because year one only had 336 bottles and I have 2 of them there are probably not that many people out there with verticals of Polaris. Some day I will open them and do my own vertical tasting of Polaris and see how it has changed over the years. Because I have at least 2 bottles from each year I can do this and still keep a complete vertical for the future.

Polaris

This is my simplified explanation of cellaring, for best results you should buy at least two bottles of each beer you plan to cellar so you can have one fresh and then drink the other a year plus later and see how age has affected it. I am sure other have differing thoughts on beer storage and cellaring but this is what I do, feel free to share your own process in comments. Now for a few photos of beer that is sitting in basement including enough Hill Farmstead varieties to make most craft beer drinkers jealous.

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559. Evil Twin Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale

Evil Twin Yuzu PaleGot this bottle for my birthday and it was the only “IPA” in the fridge on Saturday so I decided to open it. I put IPA in “” as this is an IPA with Brettanomyces and Yuzu fruit. Wasn’t even sure what a Yuzu fruit was so I had to look it up on Wikipedia – apparently it a citrus fruit somewhere between an orange and a grapefruit.

This beer is a very cloudy orange with a very thick white head. Aroma has lots of citrus, grapefruit with only a hint of the funk. Taste flips with more funky taste than hops but they are still there and enjoyable. An interesting beer and worth trying as long as you are not expecting a traditional IPA.

Pros: Interesting mix of hops and funk
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Evil Twin Brewing
Brewers Description: 

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558. Long Trail Brewing Harvest Ale

Long Trail Harvest AleWhen thinking about Vermont breweries everyone thinks about Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist but Long Trail has been making quality beer since 1989. Their beers are easy to find and true to style. Harvest Ale is an English Brown Ale which is a style that I don’t often drink but it goes very well with a meal.

Harvest pours a deep brown with only a thin tan head. Aroma has loads of roasted malts and just a bit of maple as they did use some maple syrup in the brew process. Taste has everything you expect from a brown ale, loads of caramel malts, a bit of nut and maple. Finishes slightly bitter and at 4% ABV this was a very easy drinking beer.

Probably not something I would drink a lot of but if you enjoy a beer with dinner brown ales are usually a good bet. 
Pros: 

Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 4.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 15
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Long Trail
Brewers Description: In celebration of the autumn harvest we’ve brewed this brown ale with locally harvested Vermont ingredients… a truly unique Taste of Vermont™!

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557. Prairie Artisan Ales Hop

Prairie HopI’m becoming a big fan of Prairie Artisanal Ales. It took me a while to even try their beer but since I did I have not had a bad one yet. Hop is still a saison but hoppier than most.

Pours a great orange color with a very thick white head. Aroma is a nice mix of hops, earthy spice. Taste has a lot going with plenty of hops that are kept in check by the peppery spice and saison yeast.  Really interesting to mix the hop with the saison style to create something different, complex and tasty. 
Pros:

Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Prairie Ales
Brewers Description: Prairie Hop is our hop driven saison. This beer is packed with Simcoe and Citra hops. Notes of peach, mango, and tangerine can be found in the flavor and aroma of this beer. The beer finishes dry which helps the hops jump out of the glass flavor wise.

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556. Otter Creek Kind Ryed IPA

Otter Creek Kind RyedAfter tasting the collaboration beer – Double Dose IPA – I have been on the look out for more from Otter Creek. I missed this one in the stores but fortunately my mother-in-law found a six pack at a local store and purchased it. She bought it because she liked the label with the dog and the guy in the car not knowing that it was something I was looking for. Anyway I ended with a couple of bottles when we went up to her house to do some wood and roof her porch. She also brought over another six pack she found on another shopping trip so I drank this beer for an entire week, which is very unusual for me.

Kind Ryed is a rye IPA which is a style that I am really enjoying, unlike the black IPA. Color is a deep orange with a thin white head that left tons of lacing on the glass. Aroma has a significant amount of citrus, tangerine – similar to Double Dose but dialed back a notch or two but with an added sweetness from the rye. Taste is very similar to the nose with a solid amount of tangerine from the hops but plenty of rye as well. Overall this was a very enjoyable beer and one of my favorite rye IPAs.

Hoping this one becomes a regular in the Otter Creek line.
Pros:
Nice mix of hops and rye
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 6.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Otter Creek
Brewers Description: 

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555. Hill Farmstead Biere de Norma

Hill Famstead Biere de NormaContinuing to dip into my cellar and open some of the many Hill Farmstead beers I have stockpiled. I got this one on my way to Vermont back in February. I was on my way to Burlington for a three day insurance seminar and was able to hit Hill Farmstead on the way out. This is my the first wax dipped bottle from Hill Farmstead and it was much easier to open than the Arboreal from Oxbow. This photo has to be one of my favorites from Hill Farmstead, the black and red label, red wax and color of the beer are just a perfect combo.

This beer was poured an intense red with a thick off white head. Aroma is an amazing mix of oak, sour funk and some grape almost wine-like character. Taste follows with a nice tart flavor and plenty of oak. There is also a nice sweetness that balances out the mild funk, truly excellent beer.

Not sure this one will come back but if it does make the trip and grab a bottle. I have another in the cellar and will sit on it for a while. 
Pros:
Slightly funky and excellent oak aroma and flavor
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Brewed on the day of my grandmother’s passing (Norma), this is an inspired Biere de Mars fermented entirely in oak and soured with our house spontaneous culture.

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554. Prairie Artisinal Ales Funky Galaxy

Prairie Funky GalaxyJust a couple of posts ago I was talking about dark colored saisons and how I had not had many of them. I bought this beer without knowing what style it was and didn’t realize until I poured it that it was another dark saison. Been really impressed with Prairie since they came to Maine. I also tried several of their beers at Hill Farmstead’s Festival of Farmhouse Ales.

This one pours almost pitch black color with a huge biscuity tan head. Aroma has an odd mix of citrus hops, roasted malts and funk. Taste is similar with the only addition being a bit of chocolate. Overall the mix of hops, funk and roasted malts simply do not work for me. No question this is a nice beer but not a style that I enjoy.
Pros: 

Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Prairie Ales
Brewers Description: Funky Galaxy is a black ‘farmhouse ale brewed with 3lbs per bll Galaxy hops. The beer is conditioned with 2 brett strains and wine yeast.

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553. Maine Beer Company 2013

Maine Beer Company 2013Maine Beer Company is sending out new beers on a torrid pace lately, at least when you compare it to their prior release schedule. We have had Another One, Weez and Red Wheelbarrow along with some brewery only pilots. For me the core Maine Beer Company offerings are still my favorites but it is nice to mix it up a bit. 2013 is their anniversary ale brewed with Allagash and In’finiti. It is a blend of two different beers, one a Belgian pale ale and the other an American pale ale. This makes for a very interesting combination of flavors.

Appearance is a very nice orange color with a solid off white head. This beer left some great lacing on the glass. Aroma is dominated by the citrus hops but there is also a bit of Belgian yeast smell in there. Taste was much better than I expected with a solid hop profile and just enough malt and Belgian yeast to balance things out and add another layer of complexity.

The collaboration between In’finiti, Allagash and Maine Beer Company worked very well in this anniversary ale. If you can find a bottle I recommend giving it a try.
Pros: 
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 5.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Maine Beer Company
Brewers Description: Our 2013 Anniversary beer is collaboration amongst friends, Allagash and In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation.  Given our focus on hoppy American ales and Allagash and In’finiti’s focus on Belgian-inspired ales, we thought it only natural to blend the two styles.  The result is what you might call a hoppy Belgo-American Pale Ale.  2013 is actually a blend of two separate fermentations, one, with our American ale yeast and one with Belgian yeast (Allagash house strain and a Trappist strain preferred by In’finiti).  The “American” version was dry hopped with Falconer’s Flight and the “Belgian” version with Saaz.  Both were then blended together to taste.  The result, a hoppy pale ale with notes of both citrus (American hops) and spice (Belgian yeast and continental hops).

Vitals:

Color – Tangerine

ABV – 5.5%

O.G. – 1.050

Malt – American 2-Row, Raw White Wheat, Flaked Oats, Caramel 40

Hops – Falconer’s Flight, Saaz

*This beer was only brewed once, in October of 2013, and will be available in bottles in most of our markets for a limited time, beginning 10/29/13.   Please enjoy fresh.

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552. Marshall Wharf Tug Pale Ale

TugI’m a big fan of Marshall Wharf beer but I don’t get to review many of them as I spend more time in Vermont than I do in Belfast but I do enjoy their beer at brewfests and restaurants whenever I see it. Fortunately they are canning some of their beer now starting with Can’t Dog then Ace Hole and I think I missed some cans of Sexy Chaos..

Tug is a low ABV beer for Marshall Wharf as many of their offerings are in the 8-11% range. This one clocks in at a very reasonable 5% and is a much more manageable four pack than Can’t Dog. The beer is a nice orange color with a fluffy white head full of big bubbles. Aroma is light with only a hint of hops. Taste follows the smell but does add a little extra kick of grassy hops.

Overall a nice pale ale and what I like most about their beer is the freshness even though it is coming from a can I know it has not been in there long. 
Pros: 

Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 5.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: 
Brewers Description: Our classic pale ale. Named for the Tugboats that share our part of Belfast Harbor.

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551. Earth Eagle Brewings Shepherd’s Crook

Earth Eagle Shpherd's Earth Eagle is my favorite brewery when I want something different. Many of their beers are gruits which almost no one brews anymore. These beers use spices, herbs and other things instead of hops. While I was there I sampled SamSquanch which is a gruit that uses sweet gale, reindeer lichen and chaga, when was the last time you had reindeer lichen? Lots of fun beers to be had at Earth Eagle but I brought home something a little more “normal”.

Shepherd’s Crook is a pale ale that uses hops from New Zealand. Still significantly different than what you get from other brewers but closer in style to beer I usually drink. Color is deep orange with a thin white head. Aroma has plenty of citrus and taste also has plenty of fresh hops but is also very well balanced as a pale ale should be.

With this blog post you will see most of my photos are now taken inside. The days are shorter and I can only get those outdoor shots on weekends now as I am not home before the sun goes down. Always hate this time of year as my pictures suffer from the lack of quality light.
Pros:
A different take on a pale ale
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 5.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Earth Eagle (FB Page)
Brewers Description: Wheat Pale Ale w/NZ Hops

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