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Mar 1, 2010 12:56 PM

Best Bottle for EXTENDED cellaring

A friend just had a baby boy and I am thinking of getting a beer suitable for cellaring for 16-21 years. I know it is a stretch but it could be quite fun.

Has anyone ever tried this? If not this, has anyone enjoyed a bottle that is approaching this age? If so, what?

What bottle (not styles) would you recommend? Ideally, it would be a 2010 vintage but this isn't critical. My first thought was a four-pack of Thos. Hardy but it is no longer being produced. I imagine Utopias would do just fine but I'm looking for something a little more conventional. Any other ideas?

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  1. American barleywine is pretty cellarable, and I know people who have aged Bigfoot (Sierra Nevada). In fact, it's recommended you age it as the flavor profile changes over time and it gets more malty

    3 Replies
    1. re: chuckl

      I recall that the folks at the brewery like their Bigfoot fresh (as do I), while the hop oils still stick to the lips.

      Better for aging would be a more malty barley wine.

      1. re: Jim Dorsch

        I've had friends age Bigfoot and Monster for years and they turned out rather good.

        1. re: Jim Dorsch

          Then again, the same guy has 10 years worth of anchor steam Xmas.

      2. There are a few options open to you, and they're inexpensive enough you could even buy two so you can verify quality when it's time to give your gift.

        These are all beers that I've had after extended aging:

        JW Lees Harvest Ale - English barleywine. I had one that was 10 years old and it was still very good, though somewhat oxidized.

        Chimay Grande Reserve - I've had this also at 10 years old, and it was tremendous. No oxidation I could detect. This is probably a very safe option.

        Lindemans Cassis - I'm aware this sounds strange, but I sat on a bottle of this for somewhere around 5-6 years, and it was amazing. Lindemans does still have wild yeast in it, so it does improve with age. Lambic is unique in that regard, since low alcohol beers normally don't age well. The active cultures in this beer keep working on it. Plus the fact that it's corked and capped I think helps prevent oxidation.

        Heck, do several, and have a tasting when the big 21 rolls around.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh

          Definitely JW Lees. I was thinking that one of the massive Dogfish Head beers might also be a good candidate (World Wide Stout, e.g.).

        2. I'll second the Chimay Grand Reserve, I had a 98, 99 and 2001 and they were all good (the 98 was a little bit musty).
          I've had a really great Geuze Mariage Parfait that was a 2002 I think, it's usually quite sour but it was really well balanced after getting some age on it. To me, it also feels a little more special, since it's more rare to see this, or any geuze, in the states.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Shaggy

            I once had a 12 year old Cantillon Kriek that was out of this world. Aged lambics rock.

            1. re: Josh

              I'll 3rd Josh's suggestions, some excellent choices there. Good job Josh!

              Another brew which surprised the heck out of me was a barleywine called Abacus, made by Firestone Walker. I'm not much of a barleywine fan really, but last week I visited the Firestone brewery in Paso Robles California and had this on tap and it was absolutely superb. Best barleywine I've ever had bar none.

              As of this moment it's not available for purchase, however word has it they are going to start bottling it soon, and if that's the case I plan on buying a few and sitting on them for a while.

              1. re: Whisper

                Abacus is a fantastic beer. It is one of the components of their annual anniversary blend.

              2. re: Josh

                Cantillon is awesome, that's a good suggestion. I had one a while back that I didn't allow to age, but the bottle read "best before 2025".

                1. re: Shaggy

                  I once lucked into a 4 year old bottle of Cantillon Iris at an Indian restaurant (of all places) in Las Vegas (of all places). Apparently the previous beverage manager was a beer geek, and he left a legacy of a ridiculously good bottle selection.

            2. I'd go with Rogue Old Crustacean. It's meant to be cellared and even the brewmaster recommends cellaring as it gets better with age.