Spring is just around the corner, officially beginning on Friday, March 20th. Longer days full of sunshine and outdoor craft beer drinking events await us. Before we start making evening and weekend plans between now and the end of the summer, we must first do some Spring cleaning.
I suggest that we begin with our refrigerators and beer cellars. First things, first. Unless your IPA was hit with a dose of Brettanomyces, I suggest that you pop that bottle open and enjoy it as fresh as possible. For the most part, IPAs should be consumed as close to the bottling date as possible. The addition of brett welcomes some cellaring, and many people will argue that the brew will get better with a few months to a year of aging.
Most beer with the words ‘winter’ or ‘Christmas’ should have been consumed by now, if not immediately after reading this blog. There are a few exceptions. Anchor Brewing Company makes ‘Our Special Ale’ also known as the Christmas Ale, and many people like to collect and cellar this annual release. It should be noted that Anchor Steam’s website suggests that you only age this beer for a year, and definitely no longer than three years. There are some barrel aged beers that are meant to be aged. (inquire about a beer in question in the comments section below).
While cleaning out the fridge and deciding which beers need to be consumed and which should be cellared, you should keep in mind that all beer has a window in which they peak. As you make the addition of beers in the cellar, take a look at what’s already in there and pull out some gems that have reached their apex. Often people wait for a beer to have gone past its prime, and are disappointed when tasting a beer that was aged far too long. It can be a little bit of a guessing game. When given the opportunity, I like to age three of the same beer at a time. I will consume one within a few months of cellaring, a second after a year and the third when the brewery has suggested the beer would be at its peak.
If you find yourself with a lot of beer that needs to be consumed, I suggest a bottle share party. You may even be able to persuade attendees of your ‘Spring Cleaning’ bottle share to help you with the rest of the Spring cleaning. Don’t count on it though; my friends are always quick to help me clean out my fridge and cellar, but not so much the garage.
-Peter Lopez Jr.