cellaring beer

Cellaring Notes for Beer

Below is an email I got from Carlos – its too good for it to remain there! I’ve made a few modifications here an there, but for the most part the original message is there!

Improving a beer with time requires certain conditions. Everything from the recipe of the beer, the ingredients used, the packaging technique, the packaging itself, to how the beer is stored will affect how the beer evolves with time.


The best case scenario is that you have a basement (e.g., cellar) in which to store your beer. For those of us living in apartments, cities, and in the South and West (we hear they don’t have basements, either), this is not the case. When it comes to temperature, think about recreating the conditions of a cool, dark basement.

“Heat is the enemy,” writes Randy Mosher in his canonized book, “Tasting Beer.” He’s right: Beyond pasteurization, which many breweries do not employ, heat can ruin a beer in terms of aroma and flavor, as well as its chemical makeup.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your beer will be destroyed if it spends a few days out of the refrigerator; but with extended exposure to heat and light, or repeated spikes and drops in temperature it will lose quality fast and significantly.


Some beers are meant to be aged, and others are not. Lagers, for example, are fermented cold and already “conditioned” when you buy them. Sour beers, on the other hand, along with imperial stouts, Belgian dubbels, Belgian tripels, and strong ales, plus many barrel-aged beers, do great with age.

The best beers to age are those that are bottle-conditioned, higher in alcohol content (7 percent ABV or above), or sour. That last category can take on a variety of flavors and complexities, despite being lower in alcohol.

Sour beers, along with imperial stouts (such as our own Suragga) , Belgian dubbels, Belgian tripels, strong ales (try our Apricity and Apocalyptic Post) , and many barrel-aged beers, do great with age.

Bottle conditioning does well for beer aging because the yeast that’s in the bottle is still alive and active. It will chomp on extra sugars, spitting out more alcohol as well as more complex flavors in its esters, many of which will be perceived as fruitiness when you do pop it open to taste. This is what we did for Apricity and for Apocalyptic Post, as the Carbonation in the bottle comes from this secondary fermentation in bottle, protecting the beer from oxidation and giving it nice and smooth small bubbles. The foam is just marvelous in these beers!

A beer with higher alcohol content and a big malt backbone is typically heartier and richer, and thus can hold up to heat and age much better than something like a hoppy session ale or IPA. This is why you’ll often see “verticals” of imperial stouts, or beer nerds clamoring for different vintages of big beers. Suragga falls in this category.

Sour beers are a bit of an exception to the high ABV rule: Their unique yeasts and microflora, often introduced by fruit and wild fermentation, continue to evolve for long periods of time, even many years. This makes styles like lambics ideal for aging. (In fact, many lambics have already been aged for several years before being sold.)

“Celebration” beers, or Christmas ales, are also good contenders for cellaring, and are particularly well suited for annual collection and comparison. Here, our Apricity and Wunderkammer both score really high!


Along with temperature, it’s important to consider a beer’s positioning in its “cellar” — even if that’s just your basement floor. The familiar image of the “wine cellar,” where bottles are stored in neat rows on their sides, is not always the best for aging beer. If the beer has a cork like a wine bottle, then it should do well on its side, yes, particularly if you are planning to age it for several months. This prevents the cork from drying out, and in the case of beer especially, prevents carbonation from escaping. However, any beer with an aluminum cap is best stored upright, as it would in your fridge.


How a beer changes as it ages depends on its style. In some cases, a beer that’s aged will dry out and become more complex, with more yeast-driven flavors expressing themselves over time. This can be true with Belgian dubbels, which will lose some sweetness, and beers fermented with yeast that already has complex flavors at a young age.

Consider your cellar an experiment, a learning experience, and keep trying new (and old) comparisons to truly unlock beer’s aging potential.

Sour beers tend to get more sour (or at least, more acidic), and stouts tend to get more sweet and viscous, like thick, velvety syrup. The latter can be considered a “good” form of oxidation — the beer will become rich and fruity, like sherry — or, pushed too far, meaty and umami, like soy sauce.

Whatever the result, consider your cellar an experiment and a learning experience, and keep trying new (and old) comparisons to truly unlock beer’s aging potential.


Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” provides a helpful aging time chart for a few “ageable” beer styles:


  1. Belgian Dubbel >6.5% 1-3
  2. Belgian Tripel >7.5% 1-4
  3. Strong/old ale >7% 1-5
  4. Belgian strong dark ales >8.5% 2-12
  5. Barley wine 8.5-12% 3-20
  6. Imperial stout 8.5-13% 3-20
  7. Ultra-strong ales 16-26% 5-100

Pale Ales, IPA’s and DIPA’s such as From Such Great Heights, Kerikeri ‘Round the corner, Cloudburst have zero aging potential and should not spend more than a few weeks in your fridge before you drink them!

Science shows that sessionable inebriation leads to creative thinking

Quickly, what do each of these 3 words have in common?

  1. butter, dragon, paper – ?
  2. melon, logged, proof -?
  3. cart, barrow, chair -?

While you probably figured it was fly (butterfly, dragonfly, flypaper), water (watermelon, waterlogged, waterproof) and wheel (cartwheel, wheelbarrow, wheelchair), your ever so-slightly imbibed self probably answered correctly and quicker than your sober self. And according to science, a bit of alcohol actually helps with creativity.

In tests run at the Mississippi State University and the University and Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, a moderate amount of inebriation helped subjects perform better at a Remote Associates Test (RAT) than those who held on to their sobriety. Idea was to push the test subject to local legal driving limits, which ranged from 0.03% to 0.075%. Note that New Zealand is much stricter, so please consider transportation alternatives if you want to test this out on your own. Research indicates that the saturation point is around 0.08%; it becomes a slippery down into unproductive stupor. The key, it seems, is keeping your buzz sessionable.

So how does this work exactly?

It does so by affecting working memory filter: Alcohol reduces ability to for the mind to focus narrowly, and in some cases completely ignore things. When sober, minds work more analytically. This is helpful for working towards goals; the less unrelated obstacles you mind can filter, the closer you can systematically get to your goal.  Unfortunately, it also comes with a degree of bias that often blindsided obvious solutions.

Take for instance, pretend you are a devout rugby union fan. You are presented with the following word association test while sober:

  1. drop
  2. box
  3. eye

Your devotion to rugby may get you drop-kick, box-kick but then get stuck on eye-kick (or kick-eye)? However, after sharing a can of Suragga with a couple of your mates, you will soon discover that shadow fits all the terms (dropshadow, shadowbox, eyeshadow). A high working memory in rugby might get you stuck on certain problems, but indulging in a bit of tipple might unhinge your analytical mind just enough to find the right answers!


Read more below!

  1. Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving
  2. Alcohol Benefits the Creative Process

We broke into Carlo’s secret stash!

Hi Outlier Fans,

Just a very quick last minute post – we are doing a 4 beer tasting at the Bottleshop tonight at 6 pm (Friday 19th of July).

We are covering some of best winter warmers (Apocalyptic Post, Apricity, and Suragga) and we have very special pouring of 2 rare wunderkammers that we stole from Carlo’s stash! Using my fake beard, I managed to get past advanced biometric security on Carlos’ secret beer fridge!

Tickets cost $12, and can be purchased at Here’s a quick description, see you there tonight!


Ever looked at the Outlier labels and thought what’s the story behind it? There’s so many things to tell on each beer, and Mark of Outlier knows them better than anyone else.

Join Mark von Nagy & Alvin Soh of Outlier Cartel Brewing for an evening of artwork, stories, and beer recipes behind 3 exclusive, limited release beers. Featuring:

Apocalyptic Post – new release 
Apricity 2017 vintage 
Suragga – new release

Ticket price includes tasters of all 4 beers plus a meat and cheese platter to share.


suragga Outlier Cartel

Meet Suraggā! (and a correction for our GABS entry description)

We like to officially welcome our latest creation, Suragga! Suragga is an imperial tropical milk stout – think of it as winter beer who likes to holiday in tropics when its cold out. Its made with generous amounts of coconuts and copious heaps of mint to give it’s unique flavour profile. Unfortunately – if you are coming from GABS, we got the description wrong – the description was for our previous release Apocalyptic Post! So if you are reading this:

The flavours of the Pacific Rim are important to our lives, and Outlier Cartel want to highlight the risks of climate change by putting them in a beer. New Zealand kelp, coconut, kumara and pineapple can all be found in this Imperial Milk Stout.

Replace that with the description on the can:

A big tropical imperial stout, with enough residual sweetness to warrant a trip to the dentist. The dark, heavy base presents roasted malts, hints of smokiness, toasted coconut and a garnish of fresh mint. This beer is perfect for sharing all life’s victories whether big or small.

So to be clear – there is no kelp, kumara, or pineapple – but there are ample doses of coconut and mint!

Enjoy, drink safe with your friends and family!

the team behind Outlier Cartel.

Thank you Auckland – Cloudburst is our city’s beer of the year!

This is a short, but heart felt thank for all of you from SOBA who have voted our beer Cloudburst as Auckland’s Beer of the Year. Thank you so much, we were amazed by this result due to all the competition and excellent beers and breweries. You believed in us, and that is what keeps us ticking!

The team at Outlier Cartel

Drink Less, Enjoy Life More – Everywhere but New Zealand.

Global trends show that alcohol consumption is declining.

The youth of Britain, Australia, Iceland are drinking less, and even the stalwart drinking Russians are laying off the tipple. New Zealand is bucking this trend, both the younger demographic and older demographic are prone to hazardous drinking.

Why is the global trend declining yet New Zealand falling behind? And what does this mean for your independent brewers?

In spite of the trend in New Zealand, we think the global trend is a good thing for independent brewers, here’s why:

Respect the drink.

For individuals, alcohol binging to the point of becoming a danger to yourself or others is not respecting the drink. No one needs a sermon on blackouts, hangovers and walks of shame – most are familiar with the harsh byproducts of excessive consumption.

Today it is surprising (and refreshing) to see that the binge drinking culture of Britain has drastically declined. In 2016, 35% of Britons considered themselves non-drinkers, up from 12% in 2001. Xenia Clegg Littler, a young actress from London, reflects on her disinterest in drinking alcohol:

“I’d rather wake up in the morning and get on with my day and achieve what I want to achieve than wake up with a massive hangover, I need to have control over where I am, and what I do.”

For Alcohol producers, respecting the drink means making the highest quality product possible. Inversely, it means not mass producing alcohol and selling it cheaply. The Americans, say what you will about them, are again setting the example. In order to sustain the quality and become sustainable, US beer can charge more, and consumers are just fine with this.  In contrast, their has been a dramatic increase in alcohol-free beer in the UK. This in part to both better health choices by millennials and a higher mark up for stronger beers.

In New Zealand, most alcohol has become cheaper since 2012. This is an odd turn around as reflected in New Zealand Beer Wikipedia page:

With a growth rate of 25% per year, Craft beer and microbreweries were blamed for a 15 million litre drop in alcohol sales overall in 2012, with Kiwis opting for higher-priced premium beers over cheaper brands.

Blame‘ is an interesting choice of words. Currently alcohol sales are booming in New Zealand, and it coinciding with the price drop in alcohol. Who or what is behind the price drop and what effect will it have on New Zealand?

Keep it honest.

Children’s novelist Spencer Johnson is quoted for “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Is the New Zealand Brewer’s Association being transparent with consumers?

  • Truth in advertising. First of all, beer is not the beautiful truth. The Brewer’s Association promotion of beer as a health drink is wildly dishonest.
  • Who’s your daddy? It is essential knowing where your beer comes from. White Labeling and its variants can be used deception marketing. This happens in two ways. The first way is by creating ‘premium’ looking brand and marking up a cheap product. Secondly, larger brewers can buy a local brewery, and use the former brewers reputation to sell flog massive amounts of beer. See our article on the illusion of choice.
  • Preying on the vulnerable – By producing cheap swill, it affects vulnerable population of New Zealand. From Ministry of Health‘s 2016/17 Health Survey:  adult drinkers in the most deprived areas were 1.7 times more likely to be hazardous drinkers than adult drinkers in the least deprived areas. In addition, Lion Australia, has been

There is a Scandinavian proverb that seems apt here: “Urinating in your trousers will not keep you warm in winter“, meaning a temporary solution won’t fix a long term problem. In this case, the problem is declining sales of poorly made beer. Their solution? Make it cheaper! The good news is that we’ve become smarter consumers. The article Twilight of the Brands demonstrates a relevant example of this. Consumers eventually caught on to Lululemons cheap products and the founder’s flippant remarks nearly dive-bombed his brand:

But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over.  Lululemon’s founder made things worse by suggesting that some women were too fat to wear the company’s clothes.

Foundations built on dishonesty, lies and deception are a poor legacy to leave behind.

Enjoy the drink. 

Let’s face it – we love to drink! Sharing a drink celebrates passages in our life, and that is something ever brewer should endeavor to remember. We want our drinks to be part of those memories – whether its a wedding, a new job, your first child (or 3rd!). As craft brewers, its pure joy to create a product that can augment memorable moments in life.

We respect those who drink less or decide not drink at all. Regardless of your choice, it becomes our privilege to share our drinks with you.



Post Script:

In regards to enjoying your beverage – we created little meme generator with the help our friend Matej earlier in the year. We call it stories between the sips – as good beer is meant to be savoured, not skulled! We invite everyone to share their ‘meditations on a good pint’ here:

Our favourite so far by MusicalBeers: