Aging Beer - When? Where? How?
I brew high gravity beer (10-16% ABV). I age this beer. I've always wondered where I should age the beer. Here are my options as I see them:
* In bottles
* In a secondary fermenter (glass carboy)
* In a corney keg
* In a barrel (I don't have one, but I though I'd mention it)
The big difference that I see between these options is that ageing can occur with CO2 dissolved in the beer or not. Does this change things?
I think I'll run some tests (e.g. split a batch and age half in bottles and half in a carboy). Has anyone done this? What were the results?
What other factors do I need to consider?
I favor using a cornie, partially because I keg and have many of them around. I'm convinced that bulk aging is a plus for big beers and it is quite easy to bottle from a cornie. Cornies don't take up much space, your beer can't get light-struck or exposed to oxygen, and they don't break.
with high grav beers it takes a long time for them to finish secondary fermentation. heck it takes a long time for primary fermentation. the only problem i can see with aging in a keg is that fact that kegs are metal and metal rusts. even stainless steel.
with a glass carboy you dont have this problem. but you then have the problem of light exposure. clear glass dosnt seem to block those darn UV rays like a layer of metal will. but a dark closet will fix that problem. not to mention getting a carboy cozy, you can find them online and maybe your LBHS.
wood barrels dont have either of these problems. but they will flavor your beer and need quite a bit of maintenance. they need to be to be filled to the brim with water at allowed to soak for a while to cause the wood to expand and seal any gaps between the board. after that the barrel will need to be kept constantly full of some liquid. not to mention that wood will rot after a while and termites.
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