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Booze Blog: When aging beers, what’s the sweet spot?

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Stone Brewing Co. understands the obsession with fresh beer, and has taken some of the guesswork out of the process with its “Enjoy By” series.

Yes, I’m a beer geek. And yes, I want to try every beer before I die. But every time I try a new beer, I’m always asking myself the same question: Am I really drinking this beer when I’m supposed to? Should I let it age a bit longer? Did I wait too long?

I know I’m not alone in this concern. Website beerdates.com has compiled an obsessive list of beers and their expiration dates. According to the site, domestic beers have a shelf life of about four months, while imported brews can last up to a year after bottling. Most companies stamp their bottles with a code indicating date of production and/or expiration dates.

San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co. understands the obsessiveness of some fans, releasing a line of “Enjoy By” beers designed specifically to expire quickly to take all the guesswork out of the experience.

That’s fine, but what if I want my beer to age in the fridge for a while? Everyone agrees that wine gets better with age, so why not try it with beer?

Freakin’ Frog owner Adam Carmer says go for it, because there’s no end to beers that benefit from the aging process—including most Belgians (especially those with corks), barleywines, imperial stouts, high-alcohol beers and experimental concoctions like Samuel Adams’ Utopias and BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Black Tokyo Horizon. The length of time you should age them for? Well, that's sort of up to you—depending on how patient you can be.

Luckily, very few beers are in my fridge for longer than a few weeks, so it sounds like I’m getting the most bang for my booze buck. Plus, I’ve got a bottle of Firestone Walker’s Sucaba, a 13.5 ABV beast, that’s going to remain on ice until my next birthday. Best of both worlds!

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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