In April of this year we did a video on an Imperial Stout that John made. Now it’s time to taste that stout! Out of interest in doing something different, John split bottles of beer into two conditioning locations. After they had sufficient carbonation time; he moved half the bottles into the fridge and he kept the rest at cellar temps 65-70F or so. John’s question and challenge to me was whether I could taste a difference between then in this Imperial Stout Bottle Conditioning Experiment.

The quick answer was yes. The differences in bottle conditioning were obvious to me. Some of the flavor differences were a surprise though.

The cellar conditioned beer was more carbonated for sure. I think this led to a drier character with a more distinct emphasis on the roasted malt character. This might be due to a subtle increase in attenuation, drying the beer out more. I proposed that perhaps the cellar temp bottle had some slightly accelerated oxidation character to it as well.

The cold stored bottle had a smoother overall presentation. The edges were a bit more well rounded if that makes sense. There was a more dark bread malt character and better chocolate malt flavors, where the counterpoint had more coffee and aggressive roast notes.

Imperial stout is a beer meant to stand up to aging. Perhaps though we still need to be cautious about how we age this beer for maximum results. Maybe in another 6-9 months, the flavors with become more equal… but maybe they’ll drift further apart.

We both preferred the cold conditioned version so perhaps we need to invest in more fridge space if we brew more of these beers.

What’s your experience with Imperial Stout?
What’s your experience with long term aging of beers either at cellar temps or in a fridge?
Drop us a comment and let us know.