Vintage Beer: Out with the New, In with the Old

Posted by BeerMaven | Beer Prices | Posted on March 14th

People have a certain fondness for anything vintage.  Those with a passion for fashion are drawn to vintage clothes, especially pieces of haute couture from known fashion houses and designers.  As for those who love cars, their collections would not be complete without a vintage car.  However, the most popular vintage product belongs to the realm of beverages: wine.  Vintage wines have a reputation of their own, as well as a loyal following among wine lovers.  Now, it seems like another beloved beverage is making its mark in the vintage market: beer.

It may seem hard to believe, but vintage beer does exist.  In fact, it is already being sold in selected establishments in New York City, and is becoming increasingly popular.  Beer snobs may have been the only ones who enjoyed this kind of beer, but now even consumers who are not as beer-savvy have access to aged brews.

So what is vintage beer and what makes it different?  People should know that vintage beer is not the same as vintage wine.  The term ‘vintage’ in wine denotes the characteristics of the grape harvest from a particular year.  On the other hand, a brew’s vintage merely states how long the beer has been aged.  Most of the vintage beer available are craft-brewed lambics, porters, stouts or any other full-bodied beer varieties with a high alcohol content.  Vintage beers contain active yeast, enabling them to continue to ferment as long as they are stored.  They are then aged for a long time, resulting in a change in their flavors.  It is said that aging mellows the taste of the brew, reducing both its aroma and bitterness.  Hence, the end result is better tasting beer.

Vintage beer is also not served the same way as vintage vino.  The server will just open the bottle and place it in front of the patron.  If you live in New York and decide to order a bottle of aged beer, you will not have difficulty looking for a place that serves it.  There are now many restaurants, bars and watering holes that include vintage beer in their menus.  In fact, vintage beer has become so popular that even grocery chain Trader Joe’s jumped into the bandwagon.  It is said that the trend is more likely to continue as more people are becoming fond of craft brews.

While vintage beer is something that would surely be welcomed by beer lovers, there is but one problem: the price.  Unfortunately, aged brews are more expensive.  A bottle of vintage beer is often twice the price of regular beer.

It is a great thing that vintage beer came along.  In a way, aged brew helped change the reputation of one of America’s favorite beverages.  In the past, beer was limited to pubs and bars; now it is served in high end restaurants as well.  Because of the vintage variety, beer gets more respect.  Now that is something worth toasting.

4 Responses to “Vintage Beer: Out with the New, In with the Old”

  1. Interesting. I’d like to get my hands on some of this vintage beer. Although I surmise that the flavor and aroma would be wasted on an inexperienced drinker as myself.

  2. David Teckam says:

    Create your own vintage beers through patience. Some beers age very well (i.e. Bigfoot Barleywine), so with proper storage, and patience, you’ll treat yourself someday by sampling vintages next to each other. As seen here:

  3. Chi Born says:

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