In the foreword to Vintage Beer, Patrick Dawson’s beer aging bible, “Dr.” Bill Sysak writes about tasting 19th century English ales and fifty-year-old lambics. The idea of drinking a fifty-year-old Coors Light, on the other hand, sounds about as appetizing as eating a fifty-year-old Big Mac. Different beer styles lend themselves differently to aging: light beers, hoppy beers or refreshing session ales, not so much; imperial stouts, gueuzes and Belgian quads, among others, are perfect. Under the right conditions, these styles age slow and well, yielding complex combinations of aromas and flavors that are otherwise unobtainable.
In our own cellar, we’ve got a couple bottles of Brooklyn Black Ops, a Firestone Walker Parabola and a Perennial Abraxus — all great beers, but we could use a few additions. For some new suggestions, as well as some tips on beer aging, we contacted our friends at The Cannibal NYC, who run extensive cellaring collections, both personally and professionally. Bill Brooks, Head Barman at The Cannibal Hell’s Kitchen, and Julian Kurland, Beer Director at The Cannibal Beer & Butcher on 29th Street, sat down to answer a few questions.
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