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How long to age an Imperial IPA?

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zorch:
I'm planning on brewing an Imperial IPA soon (probably following the latest Pliny recipe from this summer's Zymurgy).   But I am not sure when to expect this beer to be at its peak?

My usual practice for big-ish (1.070+) beers is to age them at least a couple of months.  But hop aroma is a critical component of this style, and I know that's going to keep diminishing as time passes.

Is there a 'sweet spot' for this style, in terms of mellowing vs. aroma?   Or should I just drink it as fresh as possible and assume that the massive hop bill is going to stomp all over any 'green' flavors I'd normally be concerned about aging out?

denny:
Only you can answer that question.  It's aged enough when it tastes good to you.

The Professor:
Denny's right...your taste buds are your best guide.   As he and others have pointed out frequently on the boards, any beer is ready when you decide it is ready.  I do prefer a good amount of age on most stronger beers, reflecting brewing tradition, but that's just personal choice based on what I like and the frequency with which I brew (rare is the time when I don't have a couple Cornies with at least 6 or 8 month old strong ale in them).
 
As far as letting  'green flavors' age out,  that's certainly an important step to me when I'm making IPA.  I like a long aged IPA (even if only because my favorite commercial example was one that was bottled at one year).   But that's just personal choice, as well as merely stubbornly clinging to my own preconceived notion of what the style is to me (besides...most of what we have always heard and read about IPA and it's history is evidently wrong anyway). 

The fact is a lot of people like the 'green' flavors in a young, hoppy beer like IPA and for them, some of these flavors even define the style (and many folks don't even characterize them as green flavors at all).   
It's all pretty subjective.

blatz:
Prof and Denny are right, it subjective.  Don't let anyone tell YOU what tastes best.

that said, the fresh hop characteristics deteriorate (or mellow, dependent on your perspective) from day 1.  You've spent a lot of cash on the hops in that recipe to enjoy all the hop goodness - do you really want to age it away?  I think you owe it to yourself to get it dryhopped and packaged, and start tasting it as soon as its carbed - if its too green/harsh, then let the keg sit a while and try again.

FWIW, Vinny Cilurzo implores people to drink PTE as quickly as possible - if you've ever had the real deal, you can see all the "DO NOT AGE" warnings on the label.

mikeypedersen:
I know that when I brew the PTE-ish beer, I give it about 10 days in primary, 7 - 10 in secondary, keg it and keep it under about 10 psi for 10 - 14 days and start drinking it.  Personally I think it is delicious right away and the hop flavor is constantly changing those 1st couple of weeks before it plateaus out after a while.   Be careful, that first pint you pull might be a dull green from hops!   ;D

Personally I would not age that beer, although I have done so just to see what would happen.  I had a 8 month old next to a freshie and of course my friends who weren't into hops like the older one better, but all of my Hop-Head friends can't get enough of it while it's fresh.  Just my $.02.

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