The 3 Best Beers to Let Age in Your Craft Beer Cellar

Maybe you don’t have a craft beer cellar or even know what craft beer is. You do, however, love beer, and that’s enough to pique your interest.

Cellaring beer isn’t as common as cellaring wine. Still, it’s equally effective in its ability to allow the beverage to change and shift, bringing out a completely different, more palatable flavor over time.

You don’t need a basement or even extensive knowledge of craft beer to get started. We’ll explain how cellaring works, how you can do it at home, and give you three recommendations for beers you can cellar right now.

What Is Craft Beer?

The easiest way to define craft beer is to separate it from mass-produced beer. Of the 204 million barrels of beer produced each year in the United States, craft beers account for less than 6 million.

The Brewers

The brewmasters that create craft beer are independent. In order to be a part of the Brewers Association, at least 75% of their brewery must be owned and operated by a non-alcoholic industry conglomerate or corporation. That means the brewer is financially tied to not just their beer but their business.

The Beer

Craft beer is innovative. Craft brewers rely on historical styles (some dating back to the early 1500s) as the foundation for new concepts. A brewer may change the way the beer ferments by adding different yeasts or bacteria, alter the flavor or mouthful of the beer by adding flavors, syrups, or fruits, or experiment with different boiling temperatures.

Craft beer is highly stylistic and often available only seasonally or for limited times. Craft beer is complex and usually meant to be enjoyed as an experience, although there are certainly plenty of craft beers that are low-gravity and easy to drink.

Distinct

Craft brews usually have somewhat of a cult following. This is obvious when we look at two of the most popular styles of craft brews available: IPAs and sours. These beers have distinct, robust flavors that separate them from mainstream lagers and ales.

Philanthropy

Almost hand in hand with the craft beer movement is philanthropy and community involvement. Instead of relying on mass marketing for their products, craft brewers are more likely to give back to their local communities or align themselves with a particular cause.

What Is a Craft Beer Cellar?

Don’t worry; if you live close to sea level, there’s still hope for you to cellar your beer. Cellaring beer doesn’t actually require a cellar or basement.

Cellaring beer, similar to aging wine, simply means being patient enough to keep it for a period of time long enough for the flavors to fully develop or change. It’s worth noting that most beer is produced to be enjoyed fresh. This is especially true of IPAs and any hop-forward beers. The acids contained in these beers that give them their bite begin to deteriorate immediately after production.

Conditions for Beer Cellar

To cellar beer, you need a place void of sunlight that is cool and relatively undisturbed. The refrigerator can be ideal. However, some experts say that cellaring in the fridge will take too long; the extremely cool temperatures can delay oxidation.

Search out the coolest, darkest place in your home, which may be in the back of your guest room closet or the bottom of a pantry. The ideal temperature for cellaring is between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want an area that doesn’t see much daylight. Sunlight can change the beer in an undesirable way.

Why Cellar a Beer?

Although most beer doesn’t need or benefit from cellaring, some beers are distinctively better after aging. Additionally, if you have a large stock of a particular beer (perhaps something only seasonally available), cellaring can extend the shelf life and help you enjoy the beer year-round.

  • Born on/consume by dates. The pumpkin ale you love is only available in October, but you find yourself craving it year-round. Stock up in October and cellar the beer until you’re ready to consume it. You’ll have access to your favorite flavors anytime you want.
  • Cut down on ABV. The alcohol content of some beers may not be desirable for some. Massive beers can handle being cellared for longer periods of time and will lose a little of their ABV as they age, making them slightly more sessionable.
  • Soften the flavor. Bold stouts and porters are classically ideal for cellaring. Bold flavors soften, and mouthfeel becomes smoother, which can be more enjoyable.

Cellaring beer is usually a shorter process than cellaring a wine. Ideally, you’ll want to cellar your beer for no longer than six months to a year. The caveat here is beers that have yeast added during the bottling process. These beers can sometimes be cellared for upwards of a decade.

Three Beers to Cellar

Sorry IPAs, but this isn’t for you. Likewise, you’ll want to avoid cellaring sours and any beer that contains a concentrated amount of fruit juice or spices. These can fade with time instead of sharpening.

The best beers to cellar have an ABV higher than 8%. These beers cellar beautifully. Typically, you’ll find that stouts and porters fall into this category and have bold enough flavors that are retained and softened after cellaring.

Without further adieu, here are three beers currently in stock at TapRm that we’d recommend for novice beer cellaring.

  1. Founders Brewing Kentucky Bourbon Stout. With a heavy ABV of 12.2, this big, bold imperial stout can handle the cellaring process. Brewed with coffee and chocolate and aged in a bourbon barrel, the bold flavors will retain and smooth over time.
  2. My Favorite Thing Enfant Terrible. Yes, you can cellar canned beer. This Russian Imperial has an ABV of 11%, making it completely suitable for cellaring. Its dark, powerful flavor showcases delicate sweetness and notes of chocolate and vanilla.
  3. Rockaway Brewing Company Bungalow Nights. A double imperial with an 11.1% ABV, this ultra-sweet beer features notes of cocoa, coffee, and burnt sugar. While cellaring, notes of vanilla and molasses will pull forward, creating an even smoother flavor.

You’ll find the selection of beers at TapRm is ever-changing. When you see one you’d like to try or cellar, grab it fast.

TapRm: Your Source for Craft Beer

The problem with craft beer is the same thing that makes it so desirable; it’s a small operation run by obsessive brewers. Sometimes, that means brewers can’t get their beer to the drinkers who want it. A microbrewery on the west coast may not have the means to deliver their product to a thirsty patron in South Florida. TapRM exists to make the impossible possible.

By connecting the best brewers with the most passionate beer drinkers, we’re building a better infrastructure that supports craft brewers and allows everyone to experience the beer they want. Part of that experience might be cellaring the beer you love but can only get periodically.

When you see your favorite craft brew on our site, remember that cellaring is an option that lets you grab it now and consume it months later.

Sources:

Craft Brewer Definition | Brewers Association.org

Industry Fast Facts | NBWA: America's Beer and Beverage Distributors

How to Age Beer at Home | Eater

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