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cellaring beer

I'm using a second refrigerator to store my beer. I'm also thinking about aging a few beers in there as well. I have it at it's lowest setting. Is this something that could work? I don't have the proper cellaring conditions.

I only have a few bottles in there at the moment including Saison Dupont, a few bottles of Wild Devil and Old Gnarly wine. Will these be ok in there for long periods of time?

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  1. Stored Chimay Blue for many years in fridges, just drank a 1994 magnum and while the fizz was all gone, the taste was spectacular. Usually drink them at 3-5 years old and seems for me to be the perfect time. Something not as cold would probably be preferable as when l started lived in big home with basement walls very thick and used a large alcove for wine cellar/beer cellar/ cheese cellar. All worked out great.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Thanks. Did your corks dry out at all because of the low moisture in the fridge? That's one of my concerns.

      1. re: Diego Sanchez

        Nope, my worry too, but it was a non-defrosting reefer

    2. There are numerous ales that are compatible with aging, any of the bottle-conditioned ones, for example, that have the added cultures to keep them going. Lots of belgian stuff will do well, and British brewers put out commemorative or anniversary ales that are intended for aging. (Fuller and Meantime to name but two) I've been pleasantly surprised by how many Whole Foods stocks in their beer section, if you happen to reside near one. In Orange,CA, Hollingshead's owner has a fancy for belgians and stocks quite a few.

      1. What's the temp. that you are storing these beers at? Different temps. are required for different beers. Remember to store the beers upright unlike wine. This is important when you have unfiltered beers. Also beers that come in at 8% or more are more suited to a cellar than beers under 8%. Finally light and oxygen will destroy your beers so make sure the caps have no leaks and consider using a fridge that is not opened often. Enjoy!

        2 Replies
        1. re: nwhitney2003

          Store on sides, as only ones l lay down have corks, same temps as red wine @55 F

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Even with a cork I don't recommend storing the beer on it's side. Even if aging for 10 years. Corks are impregnated suberin, a waxy substance that is almost water and vapor proof. The bottle already has a level of humidity protecting the cork. A beer that is corked and/or capped and/or dipped in wax will provide and excellent barrier to the beer. Storing the beer upright ensures all the yeast will settle to the bottom. Upright storage reduces the amount of surface area that is exposed thus slowing the oxidation of the beer. Alcohols in the beer can draw out moldy or cork flavors if exposed to a cork too long. Natural cork is known to harbor TCA which can ruin your beer. Many breweries recommend storing beers upright, Chimay is one example. Just my opinion.

        2. If possible I say skip the fridge for storing. Humidity is something to be taken into consideration so a basement with an ideal temp and constant temp. is more suited to storage of beers than a fridge.

          1. What are your cellaring conditions? Check online for beer or wine cellaring tips and see if your fridge on the warmest setting can't match the recommended temperature and humidity, give or take.

            My thoughts on cellaring:

            I would suggest not using a fridge to cellar beer. There are dehumidifiers that dry out corks. Also, cold actually slows the aging of beer and thus, an "aged" beer from a fridge is more "preserved" than "cellared". Unless the lowest setting on the fridge is around 55 degrees, I think it would be a bit overkill on the cold tip. Depending on where you live, you might just be able to leave it in a basement.

            Another thing to consider: If you've got the space, unplug the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark closet and, using an outdoor temperature/humidity thingee (around $7), monitor the fridge's progress for a couple weeks during the warmest part of the year. If it doesn't get above, say 65ºF and the humidity doesn't drop super low (maybe below 55%?) that would work better. You can always add a bowl of water if the moisture inside the fridge isn't high enough.

            Also, there's no need to "lay them down" like a bottle of wine - upright is fine and it will help keep any sediment on the bottom of the bottle while pouring. In fact on cases of some corked beer, there's explicit instruction to store/cellar upright. And make sure you don't waste your time cellaring bottles with twist off caps (sorry Founder's!). In my experience, they won't last more than half a year.

            Another suggestion: don't age a saison. They're best, IMO, fresh. Their bright dryness is the first thing to disappear when cellering. Same goes for IPAs who's strong suit is their oily, fresh, citrusy, piny flavors (which is why Russian River's Pliny label reads something akin to, "Drink me now! Don't age me!" With few exceptions, when it comes to beers where brightness is the key component to the style, I would drink them as fresh as possible. And for the same reason I wouldn't cellar a saison - the brightness dies first. (One exception of the top of my head would be sours or wild yeast beers.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrgrotto

              Thanks for everyone's advice. I have the fridge at it's lowest setting and its still seems pretty cold.
              I may have found an area underneath my cellar steps which may work so I will try there. Practically no light will get in. It is closed in with a door so I'm hoping that the temp will stay pretty consistant.

            2. What're everyone's thoughts of cellaring fruit beers? I have a bottle of DFH Fort sitting in my closet right now. It's been aging for about a year and a half, not sure if I should pull the trigger and drink it or just let it ride for another year or so.

              6 Replies
              1. re: shellshock24

                I had a bottle of Fort from the original bottling about a month ago and it was much better than when it was first released. I didn't like the beer when it first came out as I thought it was way too hot. A couple of years later, the heat was gone and the fruit flavor was much more intense.

                1. re: shellshock24

                  Cellaring fruit beers is fine as long as you take into account the same things you do with non-fruit beers. Temp., humidity, light, store up right, how it's capped/corked, and alcohol content. I say let sit if all of those are controlled for. The hardest part about cellaring beer is keeping yourself from drinking it too early. Cheers!

                  1. re: shellshock24

                    Fort is a good candidate for some cellaring experiments. Super boozy. In fact it pretty much just tastes like raspberries and alcohol.

                    Something else to consider when cellaring, which your question brings up: If you're interested in cellaring something, cellar more than one bottle of it. If you have, say, 3 bottles of cellared Fort you could crack one now and see how it was holding up. If you thought it was loosing its charm, then crack the others sooner as opposed to later. If it still tasted great and you thought was getting better over time, then you have 2 left to sit on. Then it's just rinse and repeat till you're all out.

                    1. re: mrgrotto

                      Wish I could get my hands on more bottles of Fort! Too bad they don't sell it out in Nor Cal. I may need to conjure up trade on BA

                      1. re: shellshock24

                        I was just down to DFH in Rehoboth...the actually have it as a vintage there, so I assume that it is definately a cellerable beer

                        1. re: DapperDave

                          Thanks, thats good to know. I may let is sit for a sit more before cracking it open.