Don’t Age Your Beer (too much)

I’ve now reached the age where I have to assume that there are number of people who no longer share (or were at least exposed to) common cultural touchpoints for my generation. So here you go – I still to this day sing this song when I’m making a salad. It’s usually in my head because the world doesn’t need the torture that is me singing. Don’t laugh – whatever childhood cultural flotsam has lodged itself into your cranium is just as silly. Anyway – the point of this post is to say – dont’ age your beer!* How’s that for a statement guaranteed to rile a few folks? That’s almost as good as my admonitions against decoction mashing for getting brewers’ dander up! In a few articles, I’ll be (and maybe Denny too) exploring a primary sin that many homebrewers are guilty of – taking too damn long to make the beer.

To start with, here’s a re-working of my “Expressway Brewing” article from Zymurgy a few years back that’s all about how to turn a beer around in 6-10 days! Express Brewing – Speed Brewing from Grain to Glass in Less Than 10 Days *:

Obvious counterexamples exist – for instance, Barleywines, strong ales, brett beers, etc. Things that have age as part of their inherent makeup – go forth and age them – Your IPA? Stop it!

Denny’s Comment: 

“Yep, look through all the “old standard” homebrew books and you’ll see lots of info about aging your beer. When I started brewing, back when books were carved in stone, the commonly heard refrain was that all beer benefits from aging. So that’s what we did. Sometimes it made the beer great and other times it resulted in a oxidized beer that had lost all of its flavor. Over time, experience taught us that there are more beers that don’t need much (if any age) than those that do. Don’t be afraid to taste your beers young! These days I’m making a lot of 2.5 gal. batches in the Zymatic. With a good pitch of healthy yeast and a temperature controlled chest freezer, I’m drinking a 1.064 IPA in less than days from when it was brewed and I don’t feel like there’s any sacrifice in quality.

There is one exception, though…your own tastes, which are completely subjective. Some people prefer an IPA that has had time to lose a but of its character and say it helps the flavors blend. I don’t agree, but you get to drink your beer how you like it and I get to do the same with mine. Just PLEASE, try it both ways and make an objective decision!”