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For those who constantly tell me that alcohol doesn't age once it's in a bottle, which is insane and retarded.


--- Quote ---Some beers really do get better with age
By Jeff Boda

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
 CHIMAY, Belgium: This year's vintage was good. The bottle from 1997 was even better, with the flavors coalescing into something special. But it was the 1970 edition that really opened eyes to what aging a bottle can do.

Not a bottle of wine, but a bottle of beer, in this case Chimay Grand Reserve. Gone were the telltale signs of beer: the bitterness, the carbonation and the foamy head. In their wake was a thick brew that tasted solely of chocolate with a little dried fruit, something to be savored with only the best of friends.

"It's an alternative to cognac after meals, with a cigar or chocolate," said Dominique Denis, the brewmaster for Chimay, nestled inside a Trappist monastery a few kilometers from the French border in southern Belgium.

For a select group of beers, their ideal place is in the cellar, alongside red wines, ports and whiskeys, where their rough edges can mellow and their flavors evolve. Kept in cool conditions and away from light — the same conditions for storing wine — any yeast left in the bottle will continue to ferment in the bottle for a few years. As the beers gently oxidize, the tastes will evolve from brash to refined, as the alcohol flavor fades away. The beer's aroma changes and the bitterness melts away, replaced by drier, sweeter flavors.

"At first you taste this and this and this flavor, but later you get a marriage of flavors and a certain smoothness," said Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery in New York and author of "The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food." He added, "The fruit and earthy flavors step forward, the bitterness steps back."

Most beers shouldn't be aged. The most common, the mass-market lagers such as Heineken, Stella Artois and Carlsberg, are designed to be drunk as soon as they leave the brewery. So are Belgian wheat beers (Hoegaarden) German weisses (Schneider or Hacker-Pschorr) and American pale ales (Sierra Nevada).

"It's a relatively small group of beer that are robust enough to age," Oliver said.

But beers that have alcohol levels of 8 percent or higher and are full-bodied can cellar. More alcohol means there's more sugars and flavors that can evolve.

Look for beers that have big malty flavors; that's a sign they will sweeten over time. Avoid those with lots of hops flavors, which break down over time, leaving an unpleasant tealike flavor, Oliver said. Skip beers that are pasteurized, which stops the brewing process altogether. If there is yeast in the bottle, that's good. The yeast will continue its fermentation for a few years, changing the existing flavors and adding new ones, before it dies out and adds its own taste, a biscuity flavor found in old Champagnes, Oliver said.

"The rules for aging beer are very similar for whether or not a wine is suitable to age," he said. "You want enough residual sugar, or enough fruit or body, to carry through over time, but at the same time enough bitterness to hold up too."

How long beer should age depends on ingredients and how it is brewed. Magnums can age for longer periods than 33- centiliter, or 11-ounce, bottles, while a British barley wine can age for years, even decades, longer than an Orval from southeast Belgium, which usually peaks after a few years. Age a beer too long and the flavors will eventually fade.

"All beers don't age the same," said Nasser Eftekhari, owner of Beer Mania in Brussels, a specialty beer store that ships Belgian beers suitable for aging to customers around the world. "Usually, brown beers age better than light beers, and the big beers twice as long as small bottles." He added, "Alcohol and aging have a direct relationship. More alcohol is usually better for aging."

One exception is a special type of Belgian beer, called lambic, Eftekhari said. Dry and sour, it usually contains between five and six percent alcohol, but is made for aging. "The older, the better," he said.

Eftekhari recommends aging beer in a dark room, at no more than 20 degrees Celsius, or about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Oliver recommends 10 to 13 degrees Celsius. If the bottle is corked, keep it on its side, Oliver said, and watch out for temperature fluctuations and light, which can ruin the beer. Like wine, beer can spoil during aging if air enters the bottle or if the cork or cap is infected.

After a year, open a bottle and compare it to a fresh bottle, and you'll start to see the difference age makes. "Beer isn't better after a few years, but different," Eftekhari said. "It's not the same as wine, in one vintage is better than the other," Denis said. "Here the evolution will remain. The product will evolve, these aromas with time evolve."
--- End quote ---

yeah, we know.  and for god's sake, don't kill all those microbes by leaving all your beer in the fridge all the time.  treat it like you would wine, or at least don't kill them in the fridge (or hot car).

I've had some of the Chimay Blue - 1989. It was class. My French mate's granddads' friends' friend had a load, so my mate brought some over.

But that really only works for "real" beers... i.e. NOT lager shit like Bud or Miller or what - i.e. NOTHING made in America.

I've been wanting to try that!

And fuck you with your American beer hatred.  You have a skewed view because you faggots over there import our worst possible crap and think that's America.  Classic mistake.  American microbrews are still very strong, and very good.  Right now, I'm with the classic first wave of the microbrews -- Pete's.  Pete's Wicked Ale is a tasty little beer for these first hot days.

Though today was a force Yuengling day.  I had to go to the bar where Biden was talking.

Fuck tequila... beer is where it's at.  Love it.


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