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Cellar beer

This past weekend I found myself expressing my annoyance at how much miscellaneous beer we had in our spare “beer” refrigerator. I bring beer samples home all of the time and sometimes it takes a while to try them out. Today was the day! We were finally going to give these beers their day to shine!

After a sip or two from each, they met their untimely demise and our kitchen drain. Frankly, I knew that most of these beers would be drain pourers. Most beers with an alcohol content under 9 percent have a suggested shelf life of three to six months. These beers had been hanging out in our fridge for well past their prime. This got me thinking, why on earth do I cellar beer?  Why not drink it fresh and not risk the chance of infection or general grossness? Infection in beer is when there is a presence of unwanted microorganisms. This can cause very off flavors, off smells, unwanted haziness, and just generally ruins the beer. No one wants this.

Cellaring beer has been a thing since the beer making began. If you are going to cellar beer, do it the correct way. Beer should be stored in a cool and dry place. The best temperature for this should hit around 50 to 55 degrees, which is the standard. Keep light away; it will skunk (make it taste horrible) your beer which is caused by a chemical reaction due to light exposure. A dry basement is the perfect place to cellar beer.

Beer that has an alcohol volume of 9 percent or higher is said to be a good candidate for cellaring. Personally, I do not agree with cellaring IPAs of any kind. When you cellar an IPA, you are going to lose the hoppy bitterness or juiciness that is praised in an IPA. Cellaring an imperial stout is a bit different. An imperial stout can actually turn out better with a little extra time to sit. Because imperial stouts are higher in alcohol, this extra time can let the booziness mellow out and more of the intended flavors can really shine. Lambics are also styles of beer that love to be cellared.

There has been and will always be the debate whether to cellar beer or not. I’ve had many excellently cellared beers. I’ve had many very badly cellared beers. I’m a big supporter of drinking beer fresh, so you don’t have to worry about possible beer infections and you get to taste it how it is typically meant to be tasted. I’m still not fully taking my own advice and cellaring away. To cellar or not to cellar is the question. The answer? Drink (or don’t) your beer your way.

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