Hello West Vail Liquor Mart customers. I hope everyone is staying happy, healthy and safe! The wheels are still turning here at the store. We are encouraging all of you to stock up as much as possible. I want to share with you how I sometimes “stock up” on beer.
The first step is to identify the beer. My method is all about seeing how a beer changes over time. So, we are not looking for light beers or hoppy beers. These styles do not age the best. However, what you are looking for is a beer with a higher ABV or a beer with some interesting yeast (wild or Belgian). Find a beer that is complex and interesting, not something one dimensional. The classic candidates for aging are stouts, barley wines, and Belgian beers. However, you do not need to only focus on these styles. You should experiment yourself and find out what works for you. One thing you do need to do is make sure you try the beer when fresh, so you have a baseline from which to judge its changes.
Once you have identified a beer that you might want to see change over time, buy a case. Then you have 24 to work with. Try one every week, or wait longer in between. This is a very fun experiment and you will certainly see some interesting results. Over some rather boring days off, I started drinking into my cellar and remembered how cool aging beer can be. I specifically tried a vertical tasting of 2011-2017 Uncle Jacob’s Stout by Avery. I was shocked how many different flavors were in different vintages of this beer. Some showed its strong whiskey presence. Some showed dark fruit flavors. Some were crazy smooth and some were boozy.
This leads me to my disclaimer. Aging beer doesn’t necessarily make it better. Just like wine, time can create some crazy twists and turns and sometimes the beer may go in a direction that you are not particularly fond of. On the flipside, you might get something amazing, which is the fun of the gamble.
My method of stocking up a case of a single beer will give you an idea of what long term aging can do. You do not need to invest your time into long term aging to see changes from a beer. Having one every couple weeks or months, you will see vast changes and you will become accustomed to the flavors that are added and subtracted over time. Beer cellaring can be a really fun hobby, especially in this very quiet time in our country. Give it a try, you might find out something new about the way you enjoy beer.
Dean LoRusso, Beer Buyer, West Vail Liquor Mart