‘Tis the season to be jolly, to spend time with family and friends, and to give gifts. And what do you get when you combine these three seasonal activities? Giving the gift of beer.

We’re here to assist you in all of your beer giving – and enjoying – needs this holiday season. We’re also here to share some knowledge that will come come in handy for you beer gift-givers and receivers alike. Beer can be a gift that keeps on giving, so instead of giving or drinking that newly-acquired case, consider stashing it away and letting it age.

Beer is an agricultural product and therefore changes over time. With that being said, not all beers are fit for aging. Hop-heavy beers aren’t great candidates as their characteristic bitterness and hop-forward aromas like pine, citrus, and fresh flowers tend to drop off while the malt flavors come forward. What you end up with may not taste bad, but it won’t be anything like what the brewer originally intended. For example, Terrapin’s special release beer So Fresh and So Green, Green, is a beer that is best consumed when fresh. The hops used in this farm-to-glass beer are overnighted to Terrapin and used in the brew within 36 hours of harvest, making it one of the freshest (and so green, green) beers on the market, which is great! But it’s not ideal for aging.

Looking at the alcohol content of a beer can help determine whether or not it is a good candidate for aging. While there are a few exceptions, beer connoisseurs recommend that beers have at least 8% ABV to be considered good for cellaring. When first brewed, these beers will often exhibit a warming sensation or sharp “kick” on the finish, given the higher alcohol content. As time passes and the beer begins to mellow, less prominent flavors that the alcohol was initially masking will start to come out; smoother, richer flavors which would have been missed out on if the beer had been consumed right away.

A good rule of thumb is the higher, the better, and the darker, the better. Dark, malty beers like stouts are ideal candidates for aging since the flavors become more complex over time. Put simply, strong beer styles like Double IPAs (like our Midnight Monk Belgian-style Black IPA) and Imperial Stouts are beers that age well given their high alcohol contents and big malt backbones.

So if you’re looking for a gift to warm a beer lover’s heart this holiday season, consider giving a beer that keeps on giving and pick up a case of our Midnight Monk. Available now in four packs of 12 ounce bottles, this Belgian-style Black IPA has an ABV of 9.8%, making it an ideal candidate for aging in both departments. Make sure to write somewhere on the card that in order to get the most out of this thoughtful gift, the lucky recipient should try to resist the temptation to drink this beer right away and store it, bottles upright, in a dark, cool place with a temperature of 50-55°F.

For those of you who simply just can’t wait, don’t worry, we have a solution. Try some now, take notes on the beer’s flavor, aroma, appearance, mouthfeel, etc. But be sure to set a few aside! Then, around this time each year, try another, take more notes and compare. It’s a difference you’ll be able to see, smell, taste, feel and enjoy!