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General Category => Zymurgy => Topic started by: bluedog on July 22, 2010, 03:31:27 PM

Title: Aging beer
Post by: bluedog on July 22, 2010, 03:31:27 PM
I would like to see an article (maybe Geeks Only) on aging beers/ meads. What I would like to see covered is what is actually happening during bulk aging and bottle aging. How is the product changing and why? Is there a way to predict when the beer/mead will be at peak and when will it begin to degrade? I have asked this before and got responses like - if you don't know what you're doing bulk aging is best, and even it's majic. I am looking for a little more science and a little less fantasy. Maybe someone in the community can submit an article on this subject. Or if there has been one in the past can you direct me toward it. Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: capozzoli on July 22, 2010, 08:36:41 PM
You mean some people age beer on purpose?

I do it through procrastination.

Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 22, 2010, 11:00:30 PM
It would be a good topic if someone could give some valid explanation of why "bulk aging" is really different than "bottle aging". I can think of no real reason why this would be.

IMO, outside of extremely strong beers and sours and such, most homebrewers tend to age their beers needlessly. Fresh beer is usually way, way better than aged beer. That said, there are certainly exceptions.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: babalu87 on July 23, 2010, 01:24:44 PM
It would be a good topic if someone could give some valid explanation of why "bulk aging" is really different than "bottle aging". I can think of no real reason why this would be.

IMO, outside of extremely strong beers and sours and such, most homebrewers tend to age their beers needlessly. Fresh beer is usually way, way better than aged beer. That said, there are certainly exceptions.

Just from my experience, big beers using lots of malt (as opposed to say a big Belgian using lots of sugar) have a lot of stuff precipitate out after long secondary agings.
Barleywines, Baltic Porters, Stouts all leave a fair share of dark brown "stuff" at the bottom/sides of a carboy after long term secondary aging at cellar temperatures.

I'd like to see something written showing it as well.................long as it wasnt written by anyone writing the Cascadian articles......................

Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 23, 2010, 02:54:09 PM
Good point, Jeff!
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on July 23, 2010, 05:45:23 PM
Fresh beer is usually way, way better than aged beer. That said, there are certainly exceptions.
I come to conclusion that some period of cold conditioning (4+ weeks) is beneficial to every beer.
I still consider 6 week old beer a fresh beer
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: denny on July 23, 2010, 06:00:19 PM
I'd have to take issue with "every beer".  At the very least, I think personal taste plays into it.  I really like my big IPAs much better when I drink them sooner than the 4 weeks you mention.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on July 23, 2010, 07:45:47 PM
Mhhh....
I will correct myself.
Every beer that I brew...
You are right about IPA.

I will never ever make any blanket statement again. ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: denny on July 23, 2010, 07:54:32 PM
I will never ever make any blanket statement again. ;D

Having met you, that's even funnier!   ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 24, 2010, 02:14:28 AM
FTR I don't really consider "4 weeks" really aging. That's conditioning.  ;) That said, most of the beer I brew are ready to go within a 2-4 week conditioning window. Many even sooner.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: rabid_dingo on July 28, 2010, 01:12:00 AM
Where does this play into storing prior to consumption? What I am trying to say or ask that is, is how
does aging play into ones plans for beer? I like brewing well ahead of my consumption rate. That is I
like having a variety of beer on stock, and I brew beer and it does tend to age anywhere from 3-6 months
on some and some of my specialty beers almost a year...You guys don't choose to skip brewing a
particular beer just because it might sit to long, do you?

Some of my beer gets aged even though I did not "plan" to age it. It just happens to sit next to beers that
I may like more and consume faster...All in all storage is key. No O2, most are in a keg on pressure.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: The Professor on July 28, 2010, 04:19:52 AM
Where does this play into storing prior to consumption? What I am trying to say or ask that is, is how
does aging play into ones plans for beer? I like brewing well ahead of my consumption rate. That is I
like having a variety of beer on stock, and I brew beer and it does tend to age anywhere from 3-6 months
on some and some of my specialty beers almost a year...You guys don't choose to skip brewing a
particular beer just because it might sit to long, do you?

Some of my beer gets aged even though I did not "plan" to age it. It just happens to sit next to beers that
I may like more and consume faster...All in all storage is key. No O2, most are in a keg on pressure.

It all just boils down to the question:  "Do you like the aging effect?"
The answer will vary from brewer to brewer.  As for me, I always factor aging time ino my beers.

In my situation,  I brew often enough that most of the beer I produce manages to cold age for at least 6-8 weeks;  some are aged in the cold for much longer than that, by design (as long as a year).  I've yet to brew a beer that sits "too long"...with only a few exceptions, cold aging for at least my default period significantly benefits almost every beer I make on a regular basis.  Even the more hop forward ones.

It's true that many homebrewers (and certainly most brewpubs) are in a hurry and not very good...  or maybe not so  well equipped... to plan ahead to factor in adequate aging...but my feeling as far as aging goes is that hundreds of years of tradition can't always be wrong.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 30, 2010, 01:18:45 PM
Where does this play into storing prior to consumption? What I am trying to say or ask that is, is how
does aging play into ones plans for beer? I like brewing well ahead of my consumption rate. That is I
like having a variety of beer on stock, and I brew beer and it does tend to age anywhere from 3-6 months
on some and some of my specialty beers almost a year...You guys don't choose to skip brewing a
particular beer just because it might sit to long, do you?

Some of my beer gets aged even though I did not "plan" to age it. It just happens to sit next to beers that
I may like more and consume faster...All in all storage is key. No O2, most are in a keg on pressure.

I store all my beer cold under Co2 pressure except for during the winter I may leave a keg or three out at near cellar temps. The exception is that I have a few high gravity brews that sometimes have to sit around 68-70 degrees for some long stretches it doesn't seem to hurt them any. Some of these are well over 5 years old. I need the keg space but am too lazy to frickin' CPBF them.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 30, 2010, 01:27:14 PM

It's true that many homebrewers (and certainly most brewpubs) are in a hurry and not very good...  or maybe not so  well equipped... to plan ahead to factor in adequate aging...but my feeling as far as aging goes is that hundreds of years of tradition can't always be wrong.


It really depends on what you are talking about. Historically many, many beer - perhaps the vast majority even - were brewed to be consumed within weeks, even days. In fact, a lot of beers had to go under very special treatment to survive necessary aging (the original IPA for instance). Beer has been brewed intended to be consumed fresh more than not. I agree that a lot of breweries don;t have the luxury to condition beers properly. We are facing this very same dilemma with small cold storage space at my brewery

I do agree there is a certain amount of craft that comes into play on aging of certain beers, and perhaps the beers many enjoy brewing are designed to withstand several months aging. My only contention with this is that a lot of brewers mistakenly believe that some styles will improve with several months of aging when, in fact, many do not. Especially new brewers who may not have handled the beer properly or who may not have cold storage for beer.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: bluesman on July 30, 2010, 02:12:19 PM
I believe the aging of beer can be effective with specific styles like Barleywine, RIS, Sour Beers, etc...
I prefer to drink my IPA's , APA's and lower gravity ales young but that's me.
Alot of things come into play with this issue.  It depends on the style of beer as well as one's own tastes.
There are also other factors that can come into play when aging beer,  the handling and processing (i.e. oxidation) of beer can adversely affect the long term storage as Keith has indicated.

The long term storage of beer will slowly oxidize at varying rates depending on the storage technique and temp.  Your strong beers (like barleywines, tripels, dark ales) will be their happiest at room temperature (55-60F), most of your standard ales (like bitters, IPAs, dobbelbocks, lambics, stouts, etc) will be at cellar temperature (50-55F) and your lighter beers (like lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, milds, etc) will be at a refrigerated temperature (45-50F). Usually the higher alcohol, the higher temperature and lower alcohol, the lower temperature.

Again, it depends on the beer style and your personal tastes as to the method and duration of storing beer for the long haul.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: euge on July 30, 2010, 06:45:31 PM
In my opinion, most homebrewers are going to enjoy their beers without extended conditioning times. I usually fill two kegs of the same brew and start drinking at about 25 days. One sits in a stable environment (65F) until I kill the other in the kegerator, which may take ten days up to a month or even longer.

The one that sits waiting is rarely any better.

However, a stout or porter that isn't up to snuff early on can go through some miraculous changes over six months. So there isn't any hard and fast rule. I think a simple rule of thumb is: the stronger and/or darker a beer is then it may benefit from some extended "aging" which is really "conditioning". It isn't something I blindly adhere to. Results for each individual brewer will vary due to personal tastes, perceptions and other factors.





Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on July 31, 2010, 01:37:39 PM
Just thought I'd add, I am now drinking a Doppelbock that I brewed back in winter and it is just now hitting its stride. While I think there is a lot of beer that is pointlessly aged there certainly are some style that require it. This doppelbock is so damn good now I am grinning like a little girl thinking about that other keg still lagering at 32 degrees.  ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: bluedog on August 04, 2010, 03:40:21 PM
In my original post I asked about aging beers and meads. I agree that many beers are ready to drink within a few weeks of fermentation. My question should have been directed to the styles that require/benefit from aging -old ales & barleywines, RIS, Belgians strongs, Ofest's & bocks. I think we can agree that all meads except hydromels benefit from some sort of aging whether it be in the bottle or in bulk. I am wondering what is going on during the process. Someone mentioned oxidation - if that's true how does that occur within a sealed bottle or a carboy with a airlock.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on August 04, 2010, 11:09:16 PM
Bottle caps are not impervious to o2, neither are carboys. Some oxidation still occurs. On top of that whatever oxidation that happened during transfer will also slowly change the beer.

As far as "what happens" a lot of it is just a melding of chemicals. Bitterness and aromas fade and meld together. Micro particles drop out of suspension. "Micro oxidation" might occur and actually help this blending. Fusels fade into esters and esters fade. In high gravity the "stress" caused during fermentation tends to fade and blend. In low gravity beers there is less stress to the yeast and less off flavors.

In the case of, say, doppelbock the flavors tend to be harsh and clashing when fresh. But as the beer ages the flavors mellow and meld and blend together. The harsh bitterness fades into the background and the malt character shines and comes into the forefront.

As far as a scientific explation deeper than this, I agree that an article would be worthwhile. You will have to forgive us. We simply like to debate stuff like this to excess.  ;)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: euge on August 05, 2010, 07:52:47 AM
I think I read some-where that if it is worth discussing then it is worth over-discussing. :D

Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: bluesman on August 05, 2010, 10:11:43 AM
During the bottling process oxygen inevitably makes it's way into the bottle and is capped therefore fueling the oxidation process.  This process inherently changes the flavor of the beer over time.  There is also leftover oxygen that is tied up in the beer compounds that can change the flavor of your beer.  This is a comlex mechanism that is not very well understood.  Sounds like a potential doctoral thesis to me.  ;)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: babalu87 on August 05, 2010, 11:41:54 AM
As far as a scientific explation deeper than this, I agree that an article would be worthwhile. You will have to forgive us. We simply like to debate stuff like this to excess.  ;)

Oh, now if someone gets all scientific with it , it wont make sense anymore  ???

All I know................ it works
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: pyrite on October 28, 2010, 04:12:08 AM
Bottle caps are not impervious to o2, neither are carboys. Some oxidation still occurs. On top of that whatever oxidation that happened during transfer will also slowly change the beer.

However, if the pressure inside the bottled beer is greater than the surrounding pressure, then the bottle should not intake o2, rather it should diffuse CO2, and there should be no oxidation.  Unless the brewer did not carbonate the bottles correctly, then I really can't see how air will try to force itself into a bottle that ideal has a higher pressure than its surroundings.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tschmidlin on October 28, 2010, 05:44:28 AM
Bottle caps are not impervious to o2, neither are carboys. Some oxidation still occurs. On top of that whatever oxidation that happened during transfer will also slowly change the beer.

However, if the pressure inside the bottled beer is greater than the surrounding pressure, then the bottle should not intake o2, rather it should diffuse CO2, and there should be no oxidation.  Unless the brewer did not carbonate the bottles correctly, then I really can't see how air will try to force itself into a bottle that ideal has a higher pressure than its surroundings.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
I know, it's counter-intuitive that the O2 will force it's way into the bottle and increase the pressure.  But it does.  :)

It is a case of gas/gas osmosis, and O2 can pass into the bottle because there is a higher percentage of O2 in the atmosphere than in the bottle, assuming the membrane is actually O2 permeable.  It doesn't matter what the CO2 pressure is in the bottle, only what the relative O2 pressure is.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tumarkin on October 28, 2010, 11:28:18 AM
I've thought about writing such an article for a long time, but I can't speak to the science side of things. I'm not a scientist, nor do I play one on tv. I wish beer had been a topic of consideration during science classes in high school - I would have paid a lot more attention in class.

On the other hand, I love vintage beer. One of our Hogtown Brewers club members, Jim Ritchhart, is a vintage beer fanatic. His 'cellar' is a large stairwell closet in his home. He is also a belgian beer fanatic and goes to Belgium at least once a year. He looks for and brings back vintage beer regularly. He has the patience to store them and then, being a generous guy, he holds occasional vintage beer tastings that rival anything held anywhere. I've had the privilege to attend a number of these tastings. The changes big beers can undergo over long periods of time can be truly amazing.

Yes, I said 'can be', it's certainly somewhat of a crap shoot. The better the cellaring conditions (more stable, temp swings bad, cellar temps in mid-50's-60's) the more likely you'll be successful. Best to have multiple examples and drink one once in a while. There can be a point where quality/flavor begins to be negatively impacted. Many of us don't have the patience or a good space for this, but it can be amazing.

If anyone's interested, I'd love to talk about this more, but gotta go now. In the meantime, check out this site....

http://www.brewbasement.com/
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: pyrite on October 28, 2010, 05:18:42 PM
Interesting that oxygen will try to permeate its way through the permeable seal of the bottle cap of a beer bottle that is of higher pressure.  I am just really curious to how this works.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: euge on October 28, 2010, 06:27:16 PM
Then maybe dipping the cap in sealing wax for a beer one wants to keep for a long time. Or use corks.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: alikocho on October 28, 2010, 06:40:56 PM
It would be a good topic if someone could give some valid explanation of why "bulk aging" is really different than "bottle aging". I can think of no real reason why this would be.


The process is exactly the same. The only real difference between the two is that aging in bulk ensures greater uniformity that cannot be guaranteed in different bottles from the same batch.

Then maybe dipping the cap in sealing wax for a beer one wants to keep for a long time. Or use corks.

Corks aren't impervious to oxygen either, although the longer the cork's contact surface with the bottle the slower the oxidation, and the wine world will tell you that a cork works by being kept wet to keep the seal (bottles stored on the side). Wax would presumably work well, assuming that you could be sure to get a full seal.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tumarkin on October 28, 2010, 07:01:55 PM
Corks aren't impervious to oxygen either, although the longer the cork's contact surface with the bottle the slower the oxidation, and the wine world will tell you that a cork works by being kept wet to keep the seal (bottles stored on the side). Wax would presumably work well, assuming that you could be sure to get a full seal.

That's an interesting point. As you note, the wine world univerally ages wine on its side to keep the cork wet. This is an area of question with vintage beer. You'll find opinions on both sides, but it seems the majority age their beers upright (I agree with this approach). The cork does dry and degrade but over a long period before it is significant.

I've found that beers that are cellared for many years (10+) often (though not always) go flat. This is true for both corked & capped beers. I've seen examples (primarily meads) at competitions that have both a cork and are capped. There are a number of beers and wines that are waxed. Lots of approaches to dealing with the seal and potential oxidation. Oxidation in cellared beers is not necessarily a bad thing. There are positive & negative flavors that are oxidative in nature. That said, keeping oxygen away from the beer is generally a good thing. One big thing to look for in choosing beers to cellar is to go with yeast conditioned beers, and to avoid filtered or force carbonated beers.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tschmidlin on October 28, 2010, 07:20:19 PM
Interesting that oxygen will try to permeate its way through the permeable seal of the bottle cap of a beer bottle that is of higher pressure.  I am just really curious to how this works.
See if this helps explain it:
http://www.av8n.com/physics/gas-laws.htm#sec-osmotic-flow

Like I said, it's counter-intuitive, but it's physics :)

(http://www.thinkgeek.com/images/products/zoom/dae9_science.jpg)

 ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: alikocho on October 28, 2010, 07:33:33 PM
Interesting that oxygen will try to permeate its way through the permeable seal of the bottle cap of a beer bottle that is of higher pressure.  I am just really curious to how this works.
See if this helps explain it:
http://www.av8n.com/physics/gas-laws.htm#sec-osmotic-flow

Like I said, it's counter-intuitive, but it's physics :)


Think about it this way - without a hermetic seal, equilibrium must eventually be achieved. Pressure and composition will therefore eventually be equalized. This happens through co2 exiting and o2 entering until that happens.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: jaybeerman on October 28, 2010, 07:59:53 PM
This is a great thread.  I'm going to start an "Aging beer" poll because I'm now curious what everyone else is doing.  I'm not trying to steal the thunder from this thread and I agree that it's a great idea for an article.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: bluesman on October 28, 2010, 08:06:03 PM
Interesting that oxygen will try to permeate its way through the permeable seal of the bottle cap of a beer bottle that is of higher pressure.  I am just really curious to how this works.
See if this helps explain it:
http://www.av8n.com/physics/gas-laws.htm#sec-osmotic-flow

Like I said, it's counter-intuitive, but it's physics :)

(http://www.thinkgeek.com/images/products/zoom/dae9_science.jpg)

 ;D

Osmosis...nice.  ;)

I love that shirt.  :)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: hopfenundmalz on October 29, 2010, 12:11:11 AM
Interesting that oxygen will try to permeate its way through the permeable seal of the bottle cap of a beer bottle that is of higher pressure.  I am just really curious to how this works.

If the partial pressure of O2 in the Atm is greater than in the beer, the O2 will go in if the cap is permeable.  Sierra Nevada changed from the twist offs to a pry off with a new O2 barrier cap liner to increase shelf life a few years back. 
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on October 29, 2010, 01:22:32 AM
Bottle caps are not impervious to o2, neither are carboys. Some oxidation still occurs. On top of that whatever oxidation that happened during transfer will also slowly change the beer.

However, if the pressure inside the bottled beer is greater than the surrounding pressure, then the bottle should not intake o2, rather it should diffuse CO2, and there should be no oxidation.  Unless the brewer did not carbonate the bottles correctly, then I really can't see how air will try to force itself into a bottle that ideal has a higher pressure than its surroundings.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Now, what the hell caused you to dig this old thread up?  ;) Even Jeff was still posting back then! Hope to see old Ben's face posting again here someday - that's for sure.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on October 29, 2010, 01:24:07 AM
I know, it's counter-intuitive that the O2 will force it's way into the bottle and increase the pressure.  But it does.  :)

It is a case of gas/gas osmosis, and O2 can pass into the bottle because there is a higher percentage of O2 in the atmosphere than in the bottle, assuming the membrane is actually O2 permeable.  It doesn't matter what the CO2 pressure is in the bottle, only what the relative O2 pressure is.

Damn! You sounded smart right there, You did! 8)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on October 29, 2010, 01:25:29 AM
It would be a good topic if someone could give some valid explanation of why "bulk aging" is really different than "bottle aging". I can think of no real reason why this would be.


The process is exactly the same. The only real difference between the two is that aging in bulk ensures greater uniformity that cannot be guaranteed in different bottles from the same batch.


That's kinda my thinking as well. Others will disagree though.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: pyrite on October 29, 2010, 02:52:32 AM
Bottle caps are not impervious to o2, neither are carboys. Some oxidation still occurs. On top of that whatever oxidation that happened during transfer will also slowly change the beer.

However, if the pressure inside the bottled beer is greater than the surrounding pressure, then the bottle should not intake o2, rather it should diffuse CO2, and there should be no oxidation.  Unless the brewer did not carbonate the bottles correctly, then I really can't see how air will try to force itself into a bottle that ideal has a higher pressure than its surroundings.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Now, what the hell caused you to dig this old thread up?  ;) Even Jeff was still posting back then! Hope to see old Ben's face posting again here someday - that's for sure.

Oh i don't know, I guess I was just diggin through my 2 yr old dopple bock stash, and this sounded interesting.  Maybe if I submerged my aging beer in water then I wouldn't have to worry about oxidation when aging beer. :-\
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on October 29, 2010, 04:25:24 AM
I'm glad you dug it up! I thought it died too quickly anyways, and is a good topic. Aging under water - interesting idea! Course the caps tend to rust. And a doppelbock is one of those beer that does age very nicely!
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: jaybeerman on October 29, 2010, 04:43:09 AM
I'm glad you dug it up! I thought it died too quickly anyways, and is a good topic. Aging under water - interesting idea! Course the caps tend to rust. And a doppelbock is one of those beer that does age very nicely!

When aging brews under water I always use my titanium caps ;)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: majorvices on October 29, 2010, 04:45:29 AM
PERFECT! ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tschmidlin on October 29, 2010, 05:54:02 AM
I know, it's counter-intuitive that the O2 will force it's way into the bottle and increase the pressure.  But it does.  :)

It is a case of gas/gas osmosis, and O2 can pass into the bottle because there is a higher percentage of O2 in the atmosphere than in the bottle, assuming the membrane is actually O2 permeable.  It doesn't matter what the CO2 pressure is in the bottle, only what the relative O2 pressure is.

Damn! You sounded smart right there, You did! 8)
I have my moments  ;D
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tschmidlin on October 29, 2010, 05:56:31 AM
I'm glad you dug it up! I thought it died too quickly anyways, and is a good topic. Aging under water - interesting idea! Course the caps tend to rust. And a doppelbock is one of those beer that does age very nicely!

When aging brews under water I always use my titanium caps ;)

I just have a room filled with CO2 and wear this outfit to go get beers . . .

(http://techdigest.tv/spacesuit.jpg)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: tumarkin on October 29, 2010, 10:55:00 AM
I'm glad you dug it up! I thought it died too quickly anyways, and is a good topic. Aging under water - interesting idea! Course the caps tend to rust. And a doppelbock is one of those beer that does age very nicely!

When aging brews under water I always use my titanium caps ;)

I just have a room filled with CO2 and wear this outfit to go get beers . . .

(http://techdigest.tv/spacesuit.jpg)

Now if only someone would invent a time machine kegerator.... just put your beer in and age it instantly. Not quite there? Just run it through again.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: bluesman on October 29, 2010, 12:09:31 PM
I'm glad you dug it up! I thought it died too quickly anyways, and is a good topic. Aging under water - interesting idea! Course the caps tend to rust. And a doppelbock is one of those beer that does age very nicely!

When aging brews under water I always use my titanium caps ;)

I just have a room filled with CO2 and wear this outfit to go get beers . . .

(http://techdigest.tv/spacesuit.jpg)

I could have figured that much.  ::)
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: James Lorden on December 06, 2010, 08:40:28 PM
I use to collect wine before I realized how much more I liked a good beer.  Perhaps there is something to learn from analyzing what happens as a wine ages.  

Regardless of what is thought by the masses, only very small percentage of wine is actually suitable for aging and the majority of wine produces is best when fresh.

In the wine world the bottles that are generally thought to have the best potential for aging have higher levels of extract, are those reds with high levels of polyphenols (such as tannins), and are those whites with lower pH.  Oak aging can add additional phenols that benefit aging.  Filtering and fining can remove some of these needed compounds.

Changes occur due to the complex chemical reactions of the phenolic compounds of the wine. In processes that begin during fermentation and continue after bottling, these compounds bind together and aggregate. Eventually these particles reach a certain size where they are too large to stay suspended in the solution and precipitate out. The presence of visible sediment in a bottle will usually indicate a mature wine. The resulting wine, with this loss of tannins and pigment, will have a paler color and taste softer, less astringent.  Additionaly, at this time acids are combining with alcohols in complex arrays to form esters.  Other chemical processes that occur during aging include the hydrolysis of flavor precursors which detach themselves from glucose molecules and introduce new flavor notes in the older wine and Aldehydes become oxidized.
Title: Re: Aging beer
Post by: skyler on December 14, 2010, 10:48:35 PM
I'd have to take issue with "every beer".  At the very least, I think personal taste plays into it.  I really like my big IPAs much better when I drink them sooner than the 4 weeks you mention.

I think personal taste plays a big part. My girlfriend and I far prefer when my IPA's have spent enough time in the fermenter/keg that they are crystal clear and "smooth around the edges." I even prefer the bottle-conditioned "professional" IPA's I sometimes buy to spend a week or two in the fridge so that all the sediment comes out of solution and I get a nice clean pour.