10 seasonals to cellar now
November/December 2014


There’s no better time to grow your cellar than in winter, when big beers fortified with rich, dark malts and elevated ABVs hit shelves en masse. To help you select your sleeping beauties, we asked the beer makers how they predict these sturdy beers will evolve.

SweetWater Happy Ending // 9% ABV // dry-hopped imperial stout
“Hops will subside and more malty-sweet and dark chocolate flavors and aromas will shine through. Drink within one to two years for the best experience.” –brewmaster Mark Medlin

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine // 15% ABV // barleywine brewed with dates and figs
“Olde School has two key aging ingredients: a high ABV and darker grains. After a couple years, the hops recede, and it picks up sherry and pit-fruit notes.” –founder Sam Calagione

Beachwood Tovarish // 11% ABV // imperial coffee stout
“The coffee notes subside and the stout base beer becomes more prominent. Some sherry and tobacco may also develop.” –owner Julian Shrago

Left Hand Barrel-Aged Wake Up the Dead // 10% ABV // oak-aged imperial stout
“[Its] hop flavors and aroma mellow, the alcohol becomes softer, and dried fruit flavors emerge. It cellars up to seven years.” –vice president Joe Schiraldi

Alaskan Smoked Porter // 6.5% ABV // porter brewed with alder-smoked malts
“Three to five years is a great amount of time to age this. The hops subside and the smoke mellows; you start to pick up notes of cherry and raisins or currants.” –production manager Dave Wilson

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad // 11.8% ABV // quadrupel aged in bourbon barrels with cherries
“It peaks between three to nine months. After nine months, the cherry character reduces, the bourbon is still there, but the beer loses some of its complexity. ” –brewmaster Steven Pauwels

Great Divide Hibernation Ale // 8.7% ABV // dry-hopped ale
“The hops eventually disappear after about a year and are replaced by smooth caramel. Dark fruit, roasted malt and tobacco [come to the forefront]. I wouldn’t age it beyond a year and a half.” –head brewer Taylor Rees

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot // 9.6% ABV // barleywine
“The hop-forward flavors mellow, and the malt character transforms it into a sweeter sherrylike beer with prominent caramel, raisin and prune flavors. The sweet spot is right around the five-year mark.” –founder Ken Grossman

Weyerbacher Quad // 11.8% ABV // quadrupel
“Any booze softens, making the beer incredibly smooth. Bright, ripe plums change to dried fruits like raisins and prunes.” –brewmaster Chris Wilson

Hangar 24 Pugachev’s Cobra // 18.9% ABV // bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout
“When it comes out, there’s roast, dark chocolate, tons of bourbon and barrel tannins; as it ages, it mellows into subdued raisins, milk chocolate and berries.” –owner Ben Cook

UPDATE: This article now notes the precise ABV of Hangar 24 Pugachev’s Cobra, 18.9%.

Published November/December 2014