Old Brews

Why it’s time to fill your wine cel­lar with beer

Sharp - - GUIDE - By Adam Mcdow­ell

DRINK­ING OLD BEER IS A BAD IDEA. We’ve all done it — picked up a not-so-cold one from the back of the un­plugged base­ment fridge hop­ing it would rem­edy a no-doubt dire sit­u­a­tion. It never did. Aged beer, on the other hand? It’s not just a good idea — it’s an ex­cit­ing trend in beer halls across the na­tion right now.

Why? As with wine, the volatile acids in the al­co­hol break down over time, and the sweet and mel­low flavours of the resid­ual sug­ars be­come more prom­i­nent. The re­sult is beer that’s softer and more com­plex than be­fore. But you can’t put just any old bot­tle aside for pos­ter­ity. It’s true that most beers will spoil with age: your favourite av­er­age-strength pale ale would fade, de­vel­op­ing a flavour of wet card­board in a few months. In or­der to hi­ber­nate nicely, a beer should fea­ture some com­bi­na­tion of smoke, high acid­ity, no­tice­able sweet­ness or resid­ual yeast, and should con­tain at least 7% al­co­hol, which acts as an ef­fec­tive preser­va­tive. (Not in IPAS, though. Re­ally hoppy beers don’t keep their sig­na­ture bit­ter flavour for long.)

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