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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: nateo on May 26, 2021, 08:40:56 am

Title: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 26, 2021, 08:40:56 am
Hi all,
I finally have a lot of room these days so thinking of doing some 10+ year aging. Any recommendations?

For storage, is it better to store in a keg the whole time or to store in bottles? Does it matter if I age them flat? Does it matter when I carb them?

For styles, something like an RIS seems obvious, or a BDS, but are there other styles I should consider? I'd like to have 2 or 3 kinds to try once a year or so.

Thank you!
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: kramerog on May 26, 2021, 11:11:22 am
Old Ales and bretts are also candidates for aging.

Generally you get less oxidation when aging in bulk. I would assume this to be true for kegs too.

When you carbonate to me is not an important variable generally other than you should force carb before bottling or natural carb upon bottling unless you are dealing perhaps with Brett.  Pressure could stress the Brett and affect flavor development positively or negatively.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: RC on May 26, 2021, 07:08:03 pm
Aging homebrew for 10 years? Is there any way I can talk you out of trying this?
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 26, 2021, 07:19:43 pm
I have aged some homebrews for 10 years. Some were surprisingly drinkable! Some were not. All were past their prime. Barleywines and RIS were the ones that stood up the best and one old ale that was kept in keg at basement temp.

There were also some Begians ...None of them survived to anything worth drinking (tripel, dubbel and quad)

For the most part kegs will give you the best long term storage. If you can stand to keep a keg held up that long.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 26, 2021, 09:04:32 pm
I've aged a few for a few years but they kept getting better. The best one was the mephistopheles clone. I'm sure there's a point of diminishing returns but I haven't found it yet.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 27, 2021, 05:49:03 am
I've aged a few for a few years but they kept getting better. The best one was the mephistopheles clone. I'm sure there's a point of diminishing returns but I haven't found it yet.

Well, you will, and it is sometime long before 10 years. ;) Like I said, I have had a few batches that I was really impressed held up after 10 years but they had reached their peak years before that.

I graduated High School in 1988 and I found a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (I believe that is what it was) that I saved and opened in 2008. IT was pretty darn good after 20 years. But just a shadow of what it would have been in 1990, or 1993.

Maybe you just enjoy oxidized flavors? I don't find a lot of enjoyment in them.

Another thing you might look at is beers that change over time like brett beers or sours.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: dmtaylor on May 27, 2021, 06:21:30 am
Aging homebrew for 10 years? Is there any way I can talk you out of trying this?

I'm with RC on this, for the most part.  But you can try it, and learn from it too.  Or learn from those of us who've done this.  Or both.

I mean, I have 6 or 7 cases of beers been sitting in my cellar, with several bottles I've had on hand for up to 5 or 6 years.  I often save a couple bottles for aging just to see what happens.  In truth, the oldest ones are all past their prime, except for one Scottish 70/- that for whatever reason still tastes as good or better 4 years later than the month I brewed it.  So I know we can get lucky once in a while.  But that one outlived my barleywine which was good for a couple years but tasting quite stale now, I still have one or two bottles of that left.  I've consumed, or dumped, many many dozens of aged beers over the years.  Most of them were not great, and many barely hanging on for dear life.  I wouldn't dare age anything for 10 years.  It will be a dumper within 5 or 6 years most likely.

I've only ever bottled so I cannot comment much on long term kegging.  Seems a waste of a good keg to age in there that long.  Bottles you can sample one easily once in a while to see how it's progressing.

However long you want to age your beer... good luck, and happy learning, for years to come.  Cheers.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 27, 2021, 06:47:25 am
I like the aging aspect for the novelty of it. It can really impress people when you go pulling out a 10 year old barley wine, especially if it held up. Definitely fun for an experiment, at the very least.

The last aged beer I had was in 2016 and that was a 10 year old BW kept it basement temps. It surprised a few beer connoisseurs at a beer tasting. Everyone was eager to try it. But it was still past its prime.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 27, 2021, 06:56:19 am
This is what got me thinking about it: https://www.themadfermentationist.com/2018/01/10-year-old-courage-ris-clone.html?m=1

He used meta to kill the brett so that seems to have helped with oxidation. My meph clone was pushing 16% abv so seems like it should have some potential for longer aging.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 27, 2021, 08:18:44 am
OK, you get up to a 16% abv beer and I can see the need for extended aging. I generally don't enjoy many beers much over 10% (with a few exceptions) so that would need to age out for sure.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: ynotbrusum on May 27, 2021, 08:37:11 am
I have taken Meads out 10 years, but only about 10.  I have had Tripels and Dubbels last pretty well into a five year term (wax dipped), but then slide off in terms of flavor.  Kegging may prove to be fully air tight and perhaps the oxidation will be kept at bay.  16% is in rare air for beers, so maybe it will work out well for you.  I would bottle some off the keg periodically over time and then do vertical tastings between the bottled and kegged!  Cheers with your project.

FWIW, I have a 15 year old Solera in a 5 gallon wooden barrel that I take from and add to every couple years.  That is a unique beer style situation and has the full complement of bugs going - fully soured, indeed.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: Steve Ruch on May 27, 2021, 08:38:28 am
A couple of years ago I had the last bottle of a batch of 18 year old mead that was really good.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 27, 2021, 09:22:20 am
I was picturing brewing a batch every year or two and doing verticals. So hopefully I'll have more than one bottle left by the time it peaks.

Maybe do a year of bulk aging then do bottles for long storage.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: erockrph on May 27, 2021, 09:47:23 am
I have several barleywines aging right now ranging from 5 to 10 years old. All of them are past their prime, but I'm just too lazy to dump them. My biggest one was 16-18%, depending on which calculator you use. It needed about 6 months before it was even enjoyable, and it peaked about 2 years out. It's still enjoyable now, but it is definitely over the hill.

This thread reminds me that I should probably drink my bottles of Thomas Hardy from the early 2000s rather soon. I usually save them for World Series or Super Bowl celebrations, so the Sox better keep surprising me this season

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Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: denny on May 27, 2021, 10:03:06 am
The most major award I've ever won was for a 5 year old Am. BW. Some beers can age well for years, but I wouldn't count on it.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: beersk on May 27, 2021, 12:43:01 pm
I think you should consider getting a barrel to age your beer in for a year before kegging/bottling too if you're thinking long term.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 27, 2021, 01:05:47 pm
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 27, 2021, 02:27:23 pm
I've never tried an actual barrel before. I've done chips and cubes but haven't noticed a big difference.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: beersk on May 27, 2021, 03:16:31 pm
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.
I don't disagree. Over-oaked beer is pretty gross. But it'd be cool to oak-age a RIS and let it age for a long time. Maybe 10 months in the barrel, then into a keg for however long.

Nateo, maybe instead of the barrel, you could try the charring oak cubes method. It takes almost as long as barrel aging, but simpler from what I've read. Charring the oak cubes yourself then soaking them in bourbon for a while is the key to getting that barrel aged flavor, from what I've read. I've used oak chips soaked in bourbon and it doesn't match barrel aging.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: nateo on May 27, 2021, 03:26:32 pm
That's interesting I hadn't heard of that method before. I haven't been unhappy with my oaking in the past but I agree it doesn't match the real thing exactly. I've done oak and added bourbon separately because I could never get the soaked chips to turn out right. Interested to hear more about the method you described.
Title: Extended aging questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on May 27, 2021, 08:36:57 pm
IME you get more tannins and less vanilla from the chips. And you can’t really char them or you just get char. Trying some cubes right now because I’ve got a split batch I couldn’t barrel. But I think the longest I’ve barreled a beer was two months? Maybe. I’ve had similar experience as Major with aging and I typically bottle some of my big beers just to keep a few fir as long as they last. They tend to hold up until they hit that precipice.  And then they don’t. I’ve had similar experience with wine, though I recently opened an oooold bottle of wine I expected to be trash and it was delicious.

Last thought, I have one old ale in a keg that just needs to be dumped and it’s nowhere near 10 years old. It’s just flaccid.


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Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: goose on May 28, 2021, 07:29:42 am
The most major award I've ever won was for a 5 year old Am. BW. Some beers can age well for years, but I wouldn't count on it.

I agree with Denny here and also with Dave on aging beers for long periods of time.  I have English Barleywines here that date back to 2014.  The '14 is almost gone, but is still pretty good and won a BOS at a competition when it was three years old.  Every once in a while I open one of the ones from past years and they are still pretty good.  This is one style that ages very well.  Some stouts IMHO age pretty well, but I would keep them around for 10 years, six to eight months is probably the max for those.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: denny on May 28, 2021, 08:36:11 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: beersk on May 28, 2021, 09:03:10 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.
.........................and? You can't make a statement like that and not say how it tasted, Denny. Come on...

@nateo Here's where I read about the charred oak cubes idea. https://www.bertusbrewery.com/2017/01/2016-mellow-midnight-update.html
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: denny on May 28, 2021, 09:15:56 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.
.........................and? You can't make a statement like that and not say how it tasted, Denny. Come on...

@nateo Here's where I read about the charred oak cubes idea. https://www.bertusbrewery.com/2017/01/2016-mellow-midnight-update.html

Didn't taste a lot like beer.  More like watered down Scotch.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 28, 2021, 09:22:21 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.

Most likely that barrel was treated with either brewer's pitch or it was so old that it had only remnants of wood left. I have used old wine barrels that I have aged fairly long in. Most dfrshly dumped bourbon barrels (like mostly we get) are going to give a LOT of bourbon character in a very short period. Surprisingly short, actually. The biggest problem with a lot of small breweries barrel program is over aging in barrels. I've had beers aged for years in wooden barrels that tasted like oxidized tannins -- of course a lot of beer drinkers thought they were great! They were not.

Once you move into the smaller barrels the oak flavor becomes overwhelming even more quickly due to the beer ratio to wood surface. A couple of weeks sometimes. I have pulled beer out of freshly dumbed 10 gallon whiskey barrels that had plenty of wood character in under a month. You could taste plenty of wood, plenty of whiskey but it tasted like beer first.

As always, YMMV.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: beersk on May 28, 2021, 09:45:25 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.
.........................and? You can't make a statement like that and not say how it tasted, Denny. Come on...

@nateo Here's where I read about the charred oak cubes idea. https://www.bertusbrewery.com/2017/01/2016-mellow-midnight-update.html

Didn't taste a lot like beer.  More like watered down Scotch.
Which might be good to some...probably not me.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: denny on May 28, 2021, 10:07:17 am
I have done a lot of barrel aging. IME even is 55 gallon barrels a year is far too long. Smaller barrels can pick up wood character in weeks. There is nothing that taste worse than an over-oaked beer. OK, tat's not true. But it still is undrinkable.

I once had a chance to taste a 74 year old Ballantine Burton Ale.  It had spent 14 years in a barrel.
.........................and? You can't make a statement like that and not say how it tasted, Denny. Come on...

@nateo Here's where I read about the charred oak cubes idea. https://www.bertusbrewery.com/2017/01/2016-mellow-midnight-update.html

Didn't taste a lot like beer.  More like watered down Scotch.
Which might be good to some...probably not me.

I found it extremely interesting, but not real enjoyable.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: riceral on May 28, 2021, 11:34:56 am
The most major award I've ever won was for a 5 year old Am. BW. Some beers can age well for years, but I wouldn't count on it.

I agree with Denny here and also with Dave on aging beers for long periods of time.  I have English Barleywines here that date back to 2014.  The '14 is almost gone, but is still pretty good and won a BOS at a competition when it was three years old.  Every once in a while I open one of the ones from past years and they are still pretty good.  This is one style that ages very well.  Some stouts IMHO age pretty well, but I would keep them around for 10 years, six to eight months is probably the max for those.

I hope you're right Goose.

I have a 3 year old English barleywine in the NHC this year.

Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: Fire Rooster on May 29, 2021, 03:56:56 am
I have a bottle of Sierra Nevada's, A Trip in the Woods, bourbon barrel aged, 12.1 ABV.
No idea on the date, been aged a few years before being released, and that was a few years ago.
Never had a barley wine, intended to have for thanksgiving, but that didn't happen, family drama's
prevented that. Waiting for cold winter months and a special occasion to have, not sure when,
in the meantime it's aging more.  Originally tried to snag their wine barrel aged one,
nowhere to be found.
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: majorvices on May 29, 2021, 06:04:37 am
I have a bottle of Sierra Nevada's, A Trip in the Woods, bourbon barrel aged, 12.1 ABV.
No idea on the date, been aged a few years before being released, and that was a few years ago.
Never had a barley wine, intended to have for thanksgiving, but that didn't happen, family drama's
prevented that. Waiting for cold winter months and a special occasion to have, not sure when,
in the meantime it's aging more.  Originally tried to snag their wine barrel aged one,
nowhere to be found.

I found three versions of Trip in the Woods a couple years ago.I enjoyed all three including the bourbon barrel aged one. Very nice!
Title: Re: Extended aging questions
Post by: Fire Rooster on May 29, 2021, 07:15:03 am
I have a bottle of Sierra Nevada's, A Trip in the Woods, bourbon barrel aged, 12.1 ABV.
No idea on the date, been aged a few years before being released, and that was a few years ago.
Never had a barley wine, intended to have for thanksgiving, but that didn't happen, family drama's
prevented that. Waiting for cold winter months and a special occasion to have, not sure when,
in the meantime it's aging more.  Originally tried to snag their wine barrel aged one,
nowhere to be found.

I found three versions of Trip in the Woods a couple years ago.I enjoyed all three including the bourbon barrel aged one. Very nice!

I'm late to the game for barleywine, I strongly desired the wine barrel aged one,
being a recovered wine snob and all.