The Problem with Cellaring

Cellaring. I hate the term, but I’ll use it for simplicity. My “cellar” consists of a couple of shelves in my pantry. I have about 10 beers, which I’m sure makes me a filthy casual to a lot of you. Hang on a minute though. This time next year, those 10 beers will have been swapped out and replaced with new ones at least a dozen times. I don’t have the patience or the desire to age a beer long enough that it “peaks”. Beer is meant to be drank…drunk? Consumed. I know some guys that have beers they’re saving for a special occasion, which at this point is nothing short of Bill Murray showing up.

Collins IPA

Maybe it’s my lack of willpower or having zero self-control, but I don’t want to wait years to drink a beer that I was only able to find a single bottle of. Asking me to wait five years to drink a beer would be like asking me to wait till June to open my Christmas presents. It ain’t happening. The longest I think I’ve ever been able to manage was two years, and it was entirely by accident. I found four bottles of Prairie Ale Christmas Bomb in a filing cabinet drawer when I was moving. Once I discovered them, they were chilled and in a glass within days.

I recently waited in line at Jester King for their first spontaneous fermentation release, aptly named Spon. It’s amazing, FYI, but that’s a story for another day. Jester King is located in Austin, Texas and Austinites waited in line the only way they know how. Folding chairs, breakfast tacos, and mimosas. It was a great time and I met some kick ass people that were camped around me waiting to get their allotment. I met a guy who we’ll call Josef. Josef was an interesting, friendly, affable guy. He cracked jokes, shared his beverages, and gladly accepted breakfast tacos. Over the course of the morning, our group got to know each other, like you do. As we went around introducing ourselves, it got to be Josef’s turn. It turns out that Josef is one of the few people that I will allow to say he has a beer cellar without doing air quotes. Josef dedicated an entire room of his Houston home to beer. Going so far as to completely block of a window and adding extra layers of insulation to the walls to keep his shelves upon shelves of beer at the optimal temperature. He took it a step further and showed me the google doc spreadsheet he used to keep track of each and every beer. Josef had a staggering 1,783 bottles of beer in his cellar.

Jester King El Cedro

I understand hobbies, and I understand the joy of collecting, but I just can’t understand such extreme delayed gratification. I suppose it comes down to the thrill of the hunt and having a bigger trophy room than the other guys. Josef was like a proud papa and couldn’t wait to show off his spreadsheet of hundreds of beers and I’ll admit my nipples got hard as I scanned the list. He even tried to offer me a portion of his collection in exchange for my share of the bottles I was standing in line for that day. I declined.

When cellaring, it will always be better tomorrow. Then you might as well wait two days. Heck, make it a week. And so on, and so on. I say, enjoy it now. What are we waiting for exactly? Set up a bottle share and have a tasting. Don’t let anything sit for more than a year. Let’s turn that inventory and actually drink the beer we spend so much money on. Why cellar till tomorrow what you can drink today? To steal shamelessly from the movie Sideways, “the day you open that special bottle, THAT’S the special occasion”. Yes, I know Sideways is a movie about wine, but fuck you.

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