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Old 09-23-2008, 05:24 PM   #1
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Default Beers that age well

I thought I had it pretty much figured out what beers aged well with three simple rules: Extremely dark, extremely hoppy, or extremely high alcohol...

But the other day I was listening to the Brewstrong podcast (Jamil Z and John Palmer) and Jamil said that an Imperial IPA is a beer that you wouldn't want to age long at all. That's a style that is both very hoppy and quite alcoholic. Can anyone explain this? My only guess is that he means you wouldn't want to age it because the hop aroma tends to fade, but I'd rather let the flavors mellow and become complex.

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Old 09-23-2008, 05:41 PM   #2
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Hop Flavor and bitterness tends to fade with time. You can see a god example by getting a store bought 6 pack IPA, date each one at 2 month intervals, and drink it next to a fresh sample from the store.
This is why IPA style beer isn't really recommended to age.
I like to just to see the difference.

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Old 09-23-2008, 05:54 PM   #3
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I think it really depends on how you define "age." I brewed an Imperial IPA a few years back. I don't have my notes in front of me right now but if my memory serves me right I had it in primary for about 10 days and secondary for 1.5 - 2 months. I then bottled and waited another 3-4 weeks. At this point I deemed the beer to be at about its peak and drank most of the batch. I did save a few bottles which I opened about 2 years from brew day. At this point, much of the hop flavors and aroma which made it such a delicious beer were gone. I still drank the bottle, but it really wasn't very good at all as you really need that hoppiness to balance out the high alcohol in an imperial IPA.

Now, let me contrast this with my barley wine that I brewed within weeks of making the IIPA. I samped a bottle or two about the time that I started drinking the IIPA. It still needed more time to mellow at that time. Today, I still have a bit more than half of the batch left and each time I open one (I only probably have one every two or three months) it continues to get better and better.

Both an IIPA and a BW need to age but an IIPA will get to its peak much faster than a malty big beer like a BW. In a BW you want the hop flavor to fade a bit to allow the maltiness to shine through.

I think the difference between the two in terms of aging is the maltiness of the barley wine vs the hoppiness of the IIPA. While the hops in the BW fade over time as well, this allows the maltiness of the BW to really shine. With the IIPA, when the hoppiness fades, you lose the hoppiness character of the beer which is the taste that you are shooting for in an IIPA. What's left is a big alcohol bite which isn't very pleasant.

In my opinion, your three rules of aging are correct. I just think IIPA's are really the exception to the rule.

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Old 09-23-2008, 06:00 PM   #4
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correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the IPA style originally designed/invented specifically to stand up to the long trip from London to India?
Seems to fly in the face of the aging question...

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Old 09-23-2008, 06:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenwoodRover View Post
wasn't the IPA style originally designed/invented specifically to stand up to the long trip from London to India?
Designed not to spoil, not to taste great when it gets there.
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Old 09-23-2008, 07:40 PM   #6
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A heavily hopped beer will be less likely to spoil but it doesn't really improve the aging of the beer. Plus as mentioned if you are trying to create a beer with big hop aroma, flavor or bitterness then you want to drink it early. Those things decrease with time.
So IIPAs are best drank young to maximize the hoppiness.
A Russian imperial stout however only seems to improve with age.

Craig

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Old 09-23-2008, 08:52 PM   #7
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Sounds to me then that hoppy beers would be good for aging on a case by case basis. If, upon tasting, the beer has a harsh bitterness or just needs to be mellowed, it should be aged, but once it is at a good level, drink up.

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Old 09-23-2008, 10:49 PM   #8
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Don't confuse bitterness and hoppiness! This is all too common. Bitterness can mellow, but hoppiness (flavor & aroma) fades.

One trick you can use if you keg, age your IPA and dry hop a week before putting it on tap. Maybe even steep some hops for flavor. I've done both when an IPA fades.

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Old 01-31-2013, 01:06 PM   #9
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Sorry to resurrect an old thread...but I was curious about what people tend to think as far as real timeframes for "aging". I am specifically interested in an Imperial IPA I brewed recently that is still in primary but done fermenting. So from brew day, I am sort of thinking for a 10% ABV, 120IBU beer, would it be something like this?

1 month - Primary fermentation/initial yeast cleanup period, then transfer to secondary
2 month - Sit in secondary
3 month - Dry hop for final 14 days of month
4 month - Bottle first week, carb for last 3 weeks
5 month - Give extra time to carb given high ABV, maybe 2 more weeks. Conceivably first tasting could be at 5 months and 2 weeks.
6 month - Age and let flavors develop?
7 month - Prime drinking time?
8+ months - Hop flavors and aromas diminish over time?

Is that about right, or is even a 6-8 month total "aging" period too long for the hops?

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