In general, beer is like bread. The fresher you drink it, the better it will taste. That doesn’t mean a 30 or 60-day-old beer is bad, it’s just that a beer with a bit of age will taste different.
I had the opportunity recently to compare the same beer at two different ages. One keg was two days old and the other was 60 days old. It was a blind tasting with three glasses. One of the beers was poured twice and the other just once. It was my job to see if I could tell the difference.
A key ingredient that seems to mellow with age is hops. In the fresh beer the hops jumped out in both the nose and flavor. The aged beer was still good, but the hops weren’t quite as lively. I was able to identify the two ages fairly promptly and I clearly preferred the fresh beer, but there were others involved in the taste test who were able to identify the two batches and preferred the older beer.
Contrast that with a Russian Imperial Stout I had the other night that was brewed by Firestone Walker, fermented in bourbon barrels and currently had an age of about 21 months. Yum! That stuff was amazing. I had it at a beer dinner with a banana bread pudding with chocolate and the combination was delicious. The beer, called Parabola, is one of the beers used in Firestone’s blended “10” and “Eleven” beers and is not sold on its own (see previous post “Is Mixing Legal?”).
In knitting, age doesn’t affect the quality of the yarn as much as it affects your attitude towards it. “Fresh” yarn is a new acquisition that is such fun to work with. The excitement and potential of the yarn makes you want to start a project right away, even if you have 10 other projects already in progress. Yet “aged” yarn is often a treasure to uncover, allows for a calmer savoring of the yarn, and tends to inspire a more patient, appreciative approach to the project.
With both beer and yarn, fresh is always good. A bit of age makes them different, but not necessarily worse; sometimes age makes them better. And when a beer or yarn can handle a long amount of aging, the result can be an uncovered treasure that you didn’t know was possible.