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Old 10-10-2012, 04:43 PM   #1
Mk010101
 
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What is it in big beers that requires them to be aged for extended lengths of time? Is it mostly the alcohol content? Other variables?

I want to make a beer that I can age at least 2 years. So many to decide from--I like the idea of a Belgian Tripple, Barley wine, Belgian Strong Ale, or a RIS. This got me to thinking: what is in a big beer that needs to be aged? A tripple is usually a very simple grain bill compared to a RIS. So a complex grain bill vs simple grain bill -- yet both require aging. If you oak a beer, aging it helps to mellow the flavors (so I've read.) So which is it?

Anyway, all thoughts on this would be helpful to decide what I want to do. Years ago I did a Baltic Porter that I drank slowly over 18 months. At 18 months it still was a great beer, with little signs that it was declining.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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I can't be specific off the top of my head, but there are slow reactions that continue to occur during aging, similar to wine. Hops will degrade, tannins will tone down, hot alcohol will tone down. My biggest suggestion is to avoid hoppy beers for aging as most the hop character will degrade so go with something that is pretty much mostly hopped for bitterness as this will last the long haul. I also think a lot of the complexities that can develop are in the phenolics so interesting yeast selection may be something to think about.

 
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:15 PM   #3
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I don't know the science behind it. Flavors mellow out and merge together. The malt will come through. Harshness will fade. I'm more a fan or RIS and Barleywine's than Belgians so right now I have two aging Barleywines and a Smoked Imperial Stout.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:30 PM   #4
JordanThomas
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Make a sour?

 
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
Mk010101
 
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Believe it or not, I've never had a sour beer. Around here there is a VERY limited selection of craft beer and so I know very few styles. If I want something, I've just made it myself. Sour beers intrigue me, but I am not ready to try it yet. I think in this case, I want to try a craft version first just so I know what to expect.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk010101 View Post
Believe it or not, I've never had a sour beer. Around here there is a VERY limited selection of craft beer and so I know very few styles. If I want something, I've just made it myself. Sour beers intrigue me, but I am not ready to try it yet. I think in this case, I want to try a craft version first just so I know what to expect.
Sounds like you need to make yourself a Berliner Weisse to put your toes in the water.

 
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:45 PM   #7
JordanThomas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk010101 View Post
Believe it or not, I've never had a sour beer. Around here there is a VERY limited selection of craft beer and so I know very few styles. If I want something, I've just made it myself. Sour beers intrigue me, but I am not ready to try it yet. I think in this case, I want to try a craft version first just so I know what to expect.
It sounds like a weird style, but I wouldn't consider sours to actually be sour, more tart. They are quite good. Saisons tend to be VERY good as sours. Jolly Pumpkin makes many very good sour farmhouse ales. Check one out if you can get your hands on one.

If you didn't want to go that route, a big stout, old ale, or belgian would work, as you mentioned in your OP.

 
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:59 PM   #8
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I love tart and I know eventually, I will give sours a try. I've been trying Belgian's for the first time (other than the New Belgian beers, of which some I can get easily.) I've enjoyed the saisons very much and recently had a Belgian Dubbel from Affligem. Wow, that was incredible!

So, I am now leaning towards a big Belgian. Anyone ever use a Saison yeast (specifically WLP566) for other Belgian styles? I do have WLP550 which I really like and could easily tolerate a big beer, or so it says on their website.

Being more specific to my original question: If I did a Belgian Tripple or Strong Ale, since the recipes are usually pretty simple, is it then the alcohol heat that is mellowing here? And, what Bensiff said, is it the characters of the yeast which change over time?

What is typical peak time for large Belgian beers?
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:02 PM   #9
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Back when I had a brewing partner we brewed 10 gallons of Imperial stout, bottled his half and my half went into a keg. Since he was an impatient alky he started drinking his bottles as soon as they were carbonated while I let my keg sit for over 6 months before I tapped it. His bottles were delicious, and realistically we couldn't tell any significant difference when I finally tapped the keg. By that time his bottles were long gone. I sometimes wonder if aging strong beers is overrated in many cases or if this is another case of conventional wisdom/urban myth.

 
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
JordanThomas
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Affligem Blonde is also delicious. Go with a Belgian, from the sounds of your tastes! Maybe do a big quad. Yum.

 
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