Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How & Why To Start A Beer Cellar


Bitter Beer Face
   Yup you read that correctly.  A beer cellar.  No, not wine....Beer.  You may wonder; Didn't those old Budweiser commercials teach me that old beer is bad beer?

   Well for the american light lagers that Budweiser produces, that may be true. For some craft beer its just not the case.  You may also ask why would you age a beer? To be honest, not more that a year ago, I would have been asking the same question.
   My fascination with aging beer started with my third batch of home-brew.  I decided to make an imperial stout.  I also decided that I could craft my own recipe. Now this may not seem like such a bad thing. It was.... Trust me, it was as if I had just learned how to cook and I decided I could make a five course meal.  When the stout had finished fermenting it tasted like bitter, over-roasted jet-fuel.  So not wanting to dump it out, and because it was 9% abv, I decided to let it age. After about 9 months I put it in bottles.  After 11 months it was a wonderfully smooth stout, with just the right amount of alcohol warmth. I still have several bottles and they are still getting better.
That was when I thought:
If age improves a bad beer, how would it affect a great beer? 

  Age can take a good beer and make it great. Just a few months can take the rough edges of a young beer and smooth them out to make a much more rounded experience. 

 Beer cellars have been around for a very long time.  It is tradition in the Belgium Trappist Abbeys.  Some of these breweries have been aging their beers for years before releasing them for sale.  They realized that the beer tasted better after a year or more of maturation.  

It is really easy to cellar beer at home. 
   The most important aspect of aging beer at home is choosing the correct beers to put in the cellar.  Some styles are not meant to age.  In fact some styles of beer begin to deteriorate as soon as they leave the brewery.  This is where the phrase "brewery fresh" comes from.  Examples of styles that should not be aged are IPA's (or any Hop Forward Beers),  American Light Lagers (or most light low alcohol, low flavor beers.  The beers that will benefit from age are generally higher alcohol, and bolder malt flavored styles.  Such as Barleywine, Old Ale, Imperial Stouts and most sour beers.  
   The next thing to consider when starting a home beer cellar is where.  The most important things to consider is temperature and light.  You do not want to cellar your beers in direct sunlight.  Ultraviolet lights will create a chemical reaction that make beer skunky.  You also do not want to store your beer in your attic.  The optimal temperature to keep beer is at around 54 degrees F and with as little temperature swings as possible.  If you don't have a room at 54F thats not a problem.  If you have a basement or a closet that is surrounded by interior walls it should work fine.  Lastly always store your bottles vertically, do not lay them on their side.  Beer will age better if stored upright, it keeps the amount of surface area of beer in contact to air to a minimum.  It will also allow for any yeast sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. 

   The last, and for me the most interesting, point to consider is Vertical Tasting.  A vertical tasting is when you take several vintages of the same beer and taste them back to back.  This will really give you an idea of how a certain beer is holding up.  When designing your beer cellar for vertical tasting the most important thing to do is buy at least two, preferably three, bottles of each beer that you want to age.  This would give you the ability to drink one bottle now (who doesn't like some instant gratification?)  one bottle to drink in a year, and one to drink once your will power fails.  The true trick to vertical tasting is to get three bottles of the same beer year after year.  

~ Ben 

P.S  In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse screw all of the above and drink the best beer you have first! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Email

The Brothers Beer now has it's own email! So if you have any questions our suggestions you can send them to us at

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Beer

Now that it is finally spring, although it has felt like this for most of the winter, it is time to pick my new spring beer. The honor goes to Dig Pale Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company. I know that this might not be new beer to some of you out there . . .those of you lucky enough to have had New Belgium beers sold in your area for more then just the last year. I have to give credit where credit is due because I didn't even buy this beer for myself. My amazing wife picked it up for me on a grocery trip because, besides being gorgeous and amazing, she knows that I like trying new beers.

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to think about it when reading about this beer. According to New Belgium's website Dig contains five separate types of hops: Target, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Nugget and Sorachi Ace. The flavors that these impart on Dig are:
Target: Used to add a bitter flavor.
Nelson Sauvin: Brings tropical tastes such as lychee and mango.
Cascade: Adds both a floral and citrus smell and taste, with the main citrus being grapefruit.
Nugget: Adds bitterness as well as a floral-spicy aroma.
Sorachi Ace: And finally . . . .another bitter hop, but this one with a very lemony quality.

Now I have had my fair share of hop filled beers . . . but five sound like a little much. I was worried I was going to be left with an overly bitter and floral beer that would simply overwhelm my palate. Boy was I wrong. It was hoppy, but not in a bad way at all.

Upon opening dig I got a instant whiff of grapefruit from the cascade hops. This to me is the strongest scent and taste in Dig. Once you get past the grapefruit, especially once the beer has a chance to warm a little bit in a glass (I always drink beer from a glass when possible), the floral scents start to play a larger role.

After having it just once I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop. This seems to me to be the perfect beer for a nice spring afternoon after either mowing the lawn, working in the garden, or just relaxing on the deck. It pairs very well with some grilled pork chops that have been in a citrus and cilantro marinade and a side or sweet grilled corn. I can see Dig being a staple in my beer supply for not only the spring but well into the summer months. So if you like a nice hoppy beer, but with a ton of flavor, go grab a 6 pack of New Belgium Dig. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know how you like it as well as what kind of tastes and scents you pick up.

May you beer journeys be good and long.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Favorite Beer

For my first real post I decided to talk about a question that I get asked all the time once people find out that I like beer. What beer is your favorite? It never fails. . . . and I can never seem to come up with a good answer. There are just to many out there, some of which are only seasonal, that I really like. I don't have a beer that I get every time I go to the store. In fact I often have to be dragged away from the beer section because I just like to walk up and down to see what I am in the mood for.

When this question comes up I often end up answering a different question. What type of beer could I drink no matter what kind of mood I am in. I have asked multiple friends, who like me prefer more than just a light generic beer, and they agree that this is a much easier answered question. So here it goes . . . . .

The type of beer I can drink, year round, no matter what mood I'm in is . . . . . . WHEAT BEER.

I love wheat beers more than any other type out there . . . .and the wonderful thing is there are so many types of wheat beers that I can never get bored because ,although they fall under the category of wheat, there are so many different variations out there.

First lets look back at a little of the history of wheat beers and what it means to be one. Wheat beers date back around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago where what is now present day Iraq. The Sumerians decided that they were tired of wandering around and settled down becoming the first recorded brewers of beer. . . . . .okay so maybe they were the first in other things too, but that's not the focus here. The wheat that they used is a very distant relative to the one that we use today. It had a firm husk that lent itself well to the beer making process. Over thousands of years of cross pollination with wild grains it slowly lost this husk which is a shame because a husk, while not absolutely needed, is wanted for the brewing process. This is why almost all wheat beers on the market are a mix of wheat and barley. Usually the mix is somewhere between 50% - 70% wheat.

Wheat beer actually all but died out in during the time that the German Beer Purity Laws came into effect. It was stated that the only ingredients that could be used to make beer were Water, Malt and Hops. Wheat beer was saved by the Degenborgers, a royal family, who were given a special degree to still make beer using wheat. Not until the 20th Century was wheat truly allowed back into brewing when less strict laws were introduced. Now many different fruits and spices are brewed with wheat beers to increase the variety available.

In fact a very small amount of wheat grown around the world is actually used for beer making. Very few farmers specialize in “beer” wheat so brewers are forced to make do with the various forms of wheat harvested for baking and other purposes. I might add though that they do a hell of a job with what they've got.

Wheat beers are characterized to have a full but soft mouth feel and a long lasting head. I myself am a fan of the unfiltered wheats that tend to, in my opinion, have a better flavor. They should not be to sweet or bitter with just a touch more of a hops taste than malt.

The main styles of Wheat Beer include Hefeweizen, Dark Wheats, Krystal, Belgian Witbiers and Sours. Each of these could have an entire article unto themselves but I will spare you the time that would take for me to write and you to read. It will suffice to say that they are all delicious.

Finally I will leave you with some tips for drinking a wheat beer.

  1. It should be poured down the side of a freshly rinsed out glass. Drinking it out of the bottle will not allow for full enjoyment.
  2. When there is about 1 to 1 ½ inches of beer left in the bottle you need to decide if you want to add in the wheat that has settled at the bottom. For me this is always a yes. To do this you can either swirl the bottle gently or roll it between your palms. Then pour the remainder of the beer directly into the center of the glass. This allows for the yeast and wheat remains to mix properly.
  3. Enjoy with anything because wheat beer has a mild enough flavor to pair well with almost all meals and snacks . . . . . or just by itself.
  4. I actually read a trick online, which I have not yet tried so if you do let me know in a comment, to put a grain of rice in the bottom of your glass. This will cause more bubbles to form resulting in a longer lasting head.

Well that is all for this post. Please comment and let me know what you think. I promise that these all won't be history lessons, but I just thought that I would get this question out of the way and thoroughly. Feel free to comment with what your favorite beer, individual or type, is currently and why.

May your beer journeys be good and long.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


To those who might one day follow this, or may be asked to post, I want to say hello and tell you a little bit about myself and why I want to start this post. The reason is actually kinda selfish. I want to write this to keep track of all the beers I try on my travels. I have a job that allows me to travel around the US and sometimes to international destinations. During these trips I like to try as many local beers as I can. I am a HUGE lover of micro brews and want to try as many as possible. But before I go any further I guess I should back up some.

When I first started drinking beer I hated it. I thought it was one of the most disgusting things that I had ever had and vowed to drink it as little as possible. This was mainly due to the fact that the only thing me and my friends could afford to drink was cheap light beer that has next to no flavor and to me seems like little more then carbonated water with a little beer flavoring. I know that this might make me sound like a beer snob . . . but I can't help it. I know what I like and that wasn't it.

It wasn't until I got a little older (and not so poor) that I was able to branch out and finally find some beers that I liked. I was still a little hesitant at first but slowly my mind started to change my mind. I started having micro brews and I haven't turned back yet. That's not to say that there aren't any good national level brewing companies out there. . . .but that will be for future posts.

I hope that this can become to a place for those of us who are lovers of beer to come and talk about our travels, either physically or through the bottle, and share our stories.