beer cellar

Cellaring, or storing, beer is one of the latest trends in the craft industry today. If you’re keeping up to date on the latest in the craft world, it won’t take long to notice 2 things that people dive on: cellared beer (especially if it’s 2+ years old) or ridiculously fresh beer.  But is cellared beer as good as it sounds? It depends. Let’s break it down in this month’s 101 to give you a clearer picture of what it means to cellar beer, as well as some proper techniques to abide by if you want to try it yourself…

Cellaring beer doesn’t require a whole lot of scientific knowledge, but there definitely is some chemistry involved in cellaring a beer properly.  Conditions mean everything, so here are a few key things to look out for:

lightLighting – In last month’s Beer 101 where we talked about bottles vs. cans, we mentioned that UV light can destroy a beer’s chemistry, giving the beer a skunky or stale taste. The same holds true for cellaring a beer. Bottled beers need to be stored in a dark place, away from all lighting as much as possible. Having darker glassed beer (i.e. brown) helps tremendously.

temperatureTemperature – Temperature is one of the key factors in cellaring. Depending on the style of beer you cellar, the ideal temperature is between 50 and 60° F. Stronger, heavier beers like BA stouts, porters, barleywines, or anything with double digit ABV’s should be stored at 50°-55°, and lighter beers like sours and Belgians should be between 55°-60° to let the organisms in that beer do its magic.

humidityHumidity – Although humidity isn’t as big of a key factor as temperature or light, it does have some significance, mostly for sealing properties. Many of the big beers that cellar well are corked. To keep a proper seal on them means the humidity levels need to be on the higher side. Higher humidity levels mean a stronger seal, due to the swelling of the cork. Low humidity levels can dry out the cork which might cause oxygen to leak in the bottle. Good humidity levels for cellaring are between 55-70%.

Beers to cellar:
Sours (including Flanders, Lambic, etc.)
Strong ale
Almost any beer with an ABV of 10% or higher
Barrel-Aged beers

Beers NOT to cellar:
Pale Ale
TIPA (If less than 12%, and even then, these are much better fresh)

Cellaring can be a great way to enhance a beer’s flavor if done
properly. We always enjoy doing a side by side between a fresh batch and
an aged batch to see what has changed in the beer. Do we cellar beer?
The answer might surprise you, given our love for beer.  We RARELY age a
beer for 2 reasons:

1.) We don’t have the patience
2.) We really don’t have the proper place to store it

I know Mike does hoard 1 style of beer for an entire year, which goes against everything we’ve talked about in this 101. Every year when Fat Heads Hop Juju (Imperial DIPA) comes out, he makes sure he has at least 24 of them in his fridge, rationing 2 bottles per month to make sure he never has to wait an entire year to have it again. So, a DIPA (big no-no in cellaring), in a fridge (which one should never age a beer in), for an entire year. Is he crazy? Not really, actually. Fat Heads created some magic in that beer. Although the flavor falls off just a bit, a year old Juju still tastes better than most fresh IPA’s around us.

So if you have the time and the patience to cellar a beer, it’s definitely worth it.  Some of the overpowering components can mellow a bit, while some of the other desirable qualities can be enhanced even more.  It can also be a great way to put some extra cash in your pocket if you can bear to part with them after cellaring them for a year or two. If you want to know which beers are good sellers, check out sites like My Beer Collectables or My Beer Cellar. This will give you a great head start.

Happy cellaring,
the Hopostles

Peach County by Ciderboys

As the summer sun begins its lazy descent towards the horizon and the crickets start up their nightly serenade, a peach cider in your hand serves as the perfect companion to the longer days and warmer weather. Join us with a special guest drinker this week and trade in the peach juice running down your chin for a bottle of Ciderboys Peach County, one of the best hard ciders on the market. Tis the season for something tasty…

First Class

Have you ever been offered unlimited free beer on a first class flight and weren’t able to take advantage of it?  I have, and here’s the story about it…

first class beer

First class…those 2 words put together when referring to an airline flight seem like an impossible reality for a poor teacher like myself.  The extra legroom, an actual meal to eat, the hot towel after your meal (yeah, that’s actually real), and the free alcohol are all part of what makes a first class flight so enjoyable that people shell out an ungodly amount of money for it.  Let me repeat part of that again for those of you who glossed over that quickly.  FREE ALCOHOL.  If you’re anything like me, those 2 words put together are one of the rare combinations that trumps the “first class” one.  And if you’re really like me, the deciding factor as to whether I’m gonna get true enjoyment out of spending the better part of a Saturday at someone’s wedding often hinges on whether or not the words “open bar” are anywhere in the equation.  Hey…open bar…another 2 word combination that beats “first class.”

Anyway, it was years ago that my wife and I were on our way home from our honeymoon in Jamaica that the impossible reality smacked me in the face for the first and only time in my life. The offer was on the table — be willing to get bumped to take the next available flight out of paradise, and the reward was a first class flight.  Though I can’t remember exactly how long we mulled the offer over, I can’t imagine it was longer than it takes me to scarf a good burger (ever see a human being inhale food like a Hoover vacuum before?).

flying beerSo there we were…first class.  A beverage of my choice was being offered by the stewardess before I even had time to recline the overstuffed, leather chair that would be my best friend for the next 3 hours.  There was just one small problem.  During the course of our honeymoon, I had acquired a case of swimmer’s ear that nearly forced us to miss our flight home completely due to the doctor’s concern about my eardrum rupturing from the pressure.  The pain was incredible, and although I know you think copious amounts of alcohol should have aided in the relief, it didn’t.  That first beer I was offered remained on my tray for the majority of the flight, causing our stewardess to remark, “What’s the matter?  Don’t you like beer?”  If only she knew the sheer insanity of that statement…

In the end, the flight home went fine in terms of my eardrum not rupturing.  However, after drinking lukewarm Red Stripe beer all week because it was the only option at the resort, I would’ve loved nothing more than to give the stewardess a reason to remark, “What’s the matter?  Have you already tried every beer this flight has to offer?”  I can laugh about the whole ordeal now many years later, but believe me, having to pass up the opportunity to make that first class flight even better is something in this Hopostle’s history that I’ll never forget…


the Hopostles

White Whale Exclusive: Julius by Tree House Brewing Company

The treehouse is a place where plans are hatched, secrets are kept, and good memories are formed. In much the same way, Tree House Brewing Company out of Monson, Massachusetts has been following suit, while simultaneously producing some the haziest and most sought-after NEIPA’s in the business. In the second installment of our White Whale Series, we sample Tree House’s Julius in a makeshift club of our own, crossing off another bucket-list beer and making a new memory that we won’t keep a secret…


Cigar City Brewing

IMG_8523Address:  3924 W. Spruce St
Tampa, FL 33607

Phone:  (813) 348-6363

Website:  www.cigarcitybrewing.com

Flagship Beers:  Jai Alai IPA, Maduro Brown Ale, Invasion Pale Ale, Florida Cracker White Ale, Tampa-Style Lager

Special Releases:  Marshal Zhukov Imperial Stout, Guayabera Pale Ale, White Oak Jai Alai, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale, Raspberry Halo Imperial Stout

Other Notable Beers:  Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Hunahpu’s Imperial StoutIMG_8525

The Down Low:  On a recent trip to Florida, there were countless things to plan for.  My brother’s wedding on the beach.  A trip to Disney World with my wife and kids.  Plane tickets. Lodging in 2 different cities.  The rental car.  Blah, blah, blah.  Sure, I was expecting this trip to be a blast from the moment I heard of my brother’s plan to have a destination wedding on Siesta Key Beach.  Sure, my kids were thrilled to be able to go to Disney World for the first (and if my wallet has anything to say about it, last) time.  Sure, we were looking forward to dipping our toes into what we had been repeatedly told was the #1 beach in the U.S., soaking up the sun and enjoying a rare out of state vacation away from it all.  But being a beer guy, as soon as I heard my brother say “Florida,” my mind quickly focused on one all important detail:  Where are we going in relation to Cigar City Brewery?

Though we had tasted a few of the more regular Cigar City beers that had drifted into Ohio via friends and family that had brought it back, it was stepping foot in the actual tasting room that I really looked forward to.  And so, with the wedding behind us (which was beautiful, by the way) and the trip to Disney World over (unforgettably awesome, in case you’re wondering), our trip was to conclude with a visit to the brewery and production facility in Tampa.  Despite all of our driving in Florida up to this point, my wife wanted to make the trip truly complete by making this one final stop for me.

As seems to be the pattern the more I visit breweries I hold in high regard, the location for Cigar City was down an unassuming road, leading to what looked more like a small industrial parkway than anything else.  A couple picnic tables outside under an awning and a small sign by the road was all that indicated I was at the right place.  Without GPS, you could drive right by and not know that you had missed it.  Walking in, there was a nice wooden bar immediately on the left, and some merchandise for sale next to it.  Following that, in a room further back, was another, somewhat larger bar accompanied by several tables.  After a quick view of the tap lists, I was delighted to see that the bars were different, overlapping only a little when it came to some of their flagship beers.  Food trucks are there to serve the patrons each day, but I was just there for the beer.

IMG_85272 flights later, I had sampled several Cigar City brews that either don’t get canned/bottled, or don’t get distributed up north far enough for us to get a chance to try them.  The Margarita Gose and Wandering Pelican Black Lager stood out for me, but what I truly appreciated were the heavier stouts, rich in body and smooth in texture.  The Oatmeal Cookie Brown Ale was a nice surprise, crumbling onto my taste buds and making me reconsider my opinion of a beer style that I don’t typically enjoy much.  The Marshal Zhukov Penultimate Push was loaded with flavor, dark and roasty with a balanced malt backbone and heavy hint of cocoa.  My one major disappointment?  Not having Zack there with me.  Apparently, having his twin daughters get their tonsils out was recklessly planned the same way that his own wedding day was (OSU-Michigan…really?).  Anyway, the bar had a few leftover bottles of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout from Hunahpu Day for sale, but you had to consume it on sight and with one other person.  Oh well…I guess it’ll just have to stay on my wish list a little longer.

With a shirt for Zack and me in hand, I was on my way to the airport with memories of a great vacation in my mind for years to come.  And for a bucket list that seems to grow more by the year, it was nice to finally cross something off for a change…

the Hopostles

Dialed In (w/ Chardonnay & Gewürztraminer Juice) by Trillium Brewing Company

According to the old adage, “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, have no fear.” Have you ever stopped to wonder where wine fits in? In the ever-evolving craft beer world, brewers are seeking answers to that very question by not only barrel-aging their beers in wine barrels, but by adding wine directly to the recipe itself. Could the saying, “Beer with wine tastes just fine” be the new saying to start uttering? As we sample Dialed In w/ Gewurtztraminer and Chardonnay juice by Trillium Brewery, we’ll find out…

Beer Genius

inventFire. The wheel. Vaccines. Electricity. Internal combustion engines. The internet.

And now…the Beer ATM. Another one of man’s greatest achievements.

While traditional cash ATM’s dispense liquid assets, the Beer ATM pours out liquid goodness. With its wall of 24 taps, Randolph Beer in NYC has created a revolutionary way to serve it’s customers more efficiently.

You simply load your “ATM” card at the bar, head to the tap wall and swipe your card, select your beer and beer size (anywhere from 1 to 12 oz), and voila. No more annoying lines. No more struggle to get the bartender’s attention. No more pressure to order a full glass when all you want is a quick taster.

The concept is quite simple, yet genius.

We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any ideas for an invention that could drastically change or improve the way we consume or experience beer? Share your ideas in the comments section, and we’ll give you some honest feedback!

Be sure to check out the full article about the Beer ATM at vinepair.com.

Charred Walls of the Damned by Burnt Hickory Brewing

In the pantheon of great beer names, Charred Walls of the Damned has to be somewhere near the top. It sounds scary, mysterious, and like a horror movie all wrapped up into one. Maybe that’s what the heavy metal band that chose it wanted, but as it turns out, it’s a pretty awesome beer as well. We had heard that this vintage batch had a few tainted bottles, and so with that in mind, we were hoping for the best.  Watch us try this barrel aged quad by Burnt Hickory Brewing to see if the beer is as cool as its moniker…

Dark Lord by 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

A special occasion, specifically our favorite golf outing of the year, requires a special beer to celebrate accordingly. We played a ton of golf, laughed so hard it hurt, and enjoyed a lot of great beers. Few, however, were as special as Dark Lord by 3 Floyds, a yearly molasses bomb provided by our guest drinker, Marc Janca. Watch as we took a moment during the busy weekend to add yet another chapter of memories to the Legendary Hurricane Cup…

The Countdown

Have you ever started your daily countdown to summer as soon as September 1 rolls around on the calendar? I do every year, and here’s the story about it…

Countdown clock

As a school teacher, I’ve got countdowns for everything–days left before giving the big test, days left before Christmas break, units left to teach in the book–you name it, I know how much further we’ve got to go til something is done.  But no countdown is noticed and talked about more than the one I have on the whiteboard in my classroom from Day 1 of school–the “days to go” countdown.  Everyone knows what that one is referring to, and even though seeing it on the first day of school with a big number in front of it is something that both the teachers and my students get a good laugh about, the laughs slowly give way to repeated looks and warm tingling feelings as the number diminishes a little more each day.

Sure, the biggest part of those feelings is always gonna be tied to the 3 months off of school, but being a craft beer enthusiast that appreciates many styles of beers, another lesser reason is the flooding of the beer market with a style known as the shandy.  A shandy, simply put, is beer mixed with lemonade, ginger ale, or ginger beer.  Turned off by that thought?  Don’t be.  My guess is that you’ve either never tried one at all, or that you haven’t tried a good one.  That being said, let me save you the trouble of wasting time with the poor ones before you land on the holy grail.  Zack and I have done our share of “looking for the good ones”, and have found the best one out there.  I know…it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta drink it.

Turbo ShandyIt’s called Barrel Aged Turbo Shandy by Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron, OH, and it’s the epitome of refreshment when the warm summer months roll around in your neck of the woods.  This version happens to be aged in bourbon whiskey barrels, giving that delicious beer and lemonade combo a nice little kick in the pants.  You’ll discover a concoction that at one time seemed so weird, but quickly turned into something you wished for a bigger bottle to contain.  Hoppin’ Frog makes a non-barrel aged turbo Shandy and a tequila barrel-aged Shandy as well, and although they’re tasty in their own right, they can’t help but take a backseat to the much more southern, bourbon-sipping cousin driving the wheel in your wildest dreams.

Think I’m overrated in my obsession over this summer drink?  Think again.  Better yet, prove me wrong and start your own countdown to when you’re gonna take our word for it and try one yourself.  But beware…tough habits, much like the pursuit of a good shandy, are gonna be hard to break once the summer comes to an end…

the Hopostles