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Tips for Aging Beer

When most people think of aging any kind of alcohol, the first thought is wine. But aging alcohol is not just limited to wine. While a majority of beer is meant to be consumed shortly after being brewed (hence the reason for expiration dates on bottles and cans) there are certain merits to aging beer as well. Though this is a relatively new concept, as the growth and interest in craft beer is much newer than wine, aging beer can reap tremendous benefits if done correctly. When you age beer, some flavors can subside, letting others shine through for a new and different taste altogether.

There is much discussion and rhetoric that flies around about the process of aging beer. Some will argue that is a fantastic way to enjoy your beer, while others eschew the mere mention of aging beer as they would argue that beer is meant to be consumed as soon as it is produced. But the good news is that, in the end, it is a personal choice and up to the drinker whether they choose to imbibe fresh or let it mellow. Also, as different people prefer different flavors, some may truly enjoy the aged beer taste, while others may find it unpleasant. 

Why would you want to age beer? Or in other words, what benefit does aging have? Interesting to note that beer does not deepen or develop in flavor as it ages. In fact, the opposite occurs. What happens is that the strong flavors tend to lessen and the more understated flavors and characteristics of the beer are brought forward as the beer ages. This interesting development process is the exact antithesis of how wine ages.

Beer is relatively inexpensive, so if you decide that you want to try aging beers, you really wouldn’t have to invest much at all. And in more good news, you don’t have to have any fancy (read: expensive) equipment or have any special space built into your home to age beer. To get started aging beer you’ll just need a cool, dark space. Another good thing about aging beer is that you don’t have to wait an exorbitant amount of time for the beer to develop before you can enjoy it. With wine, some connoisseurs wait decades, but with beer it is just a fraction of the time – maybe a year at most. More on that later. But first let’s discuss the kinds of beers you can and cannot age, as not all beer was meant to be aged.


Beer does not deepen or develop in flavor as it ages. In fact, the opposite occurs. What happens is that the strong flavors tend to lessen and the more understated flavors and characteristics of the beer are brought forward as the beer ages. This interesting development process is the exact antithesis of how wine ages.


What are the best beer styles to age?

Higher-ABV beers and beers that have been aged in casks tend to do well when aged. Remember earlier we said that when you age beer, some flavors lighten up and the other characteristics come forward? So, when you age a beer that was previously aged in casks, like whiskey, for example, that flavor might become more prominent. The same with sour beers that have a fruit infusion. That flavor of the fruit might come through more over time via aging.

A note on stouts: “Sometimes a stout can be too “hot” meaning if it’s barrel-aged, there’s a good bit of bourbon burn in it where it needs some mellowing out to enhance the flavors.” - Brij Patel, owner, Sprayberry Bottle Shop, Marietta, GA

Type of Beers Ideal for Aging

  • Barrel-aged beers/Stouts
  • High-ABV beers
  • Sour beers​

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