Old Homebrew

While cleaning out the basement today, I ran across some old bottles of homebrew. There are 3 bottles of mead that (according to my notes) were bottled in 1995, and 3 bottles of unidentified beer that were bottled no later than 2001. I’ve got them chilling now, but I keep wavering between anticipation and dread. Beyond opening them outside, wearing safety glasses, and having a medical professional on hand, anything else I should worry about?

I’ll report back, if possible.

Use them for fertilizer on a patch of garden.
Grow Barley on that patch.
Malt the barley.
Brew beer from it.
Use THAT as fertilizer.
Grow more barley.
malt the barley
brew more beer.

I’ve drunk homebrew of my own (both stout and some homemade blackberry wine) that was ten years old. If anything it had gotten better with age. it should be fine.

The mead should be wonderful. The beer would be iffy if it isn’t a barleywine. Not deadly, but not too palatable either.

There’s nothing in there that could harm you. If the alcohol content is high enough, the beer was basically cellared, and it will be a treat. Age on mead is a friend indeed.

There was a thread on beeradvocate where a member found and consumed a Keystone that I believe was twenty years old. Shockingly, he reported that it mostly tasted normal, if a little flat. Perhaps Keystone cannot possibly taste worse though.

Ok, tried one of the beers. Flat and not very good. Lots of phenol flavor. Assuming it was the last batch I made, which was an IPA in 2001, it had an original S.G. of 1.059, and a bottling S.G. of 1.012. No negative notes about it at the time I brewed, so it must not have aged well. Not surprising - it’s been in 2 different basements with 20 degree temperature swings for 8 years.

IIRC correctly Charlie Papazion makes the case that yeast and other ingredients break down and contribute less than stellar tastes over time. There are certainly entire websites and flame wars over the “perfect” aging of a homebrew.

IMHO, anything less than a month is too new. Homebrews aged from say 3-6 months usually are considerably better than the 1-2 month range. I didn’t have all that many that aged say 12 months, but frankly didn’t notice much if any difference with a 6 month beer. YMMV

The mead was pretty good. Sweet, but not as heavy as I remember it being when it was a year old. It was my one and only experiment with mead, so I’m not sure how a good mead is supposed to taste anyway. According to my notes, it was made with ginger, cloves & orange zest.

I once got to drink a friend’s Raisin Sherry mead that had been aging 19 years. It was sublime.

Papazian (IIRC) and some buddies made some mead and buried it and dug a bottle up every year or so and commented how it aged so well. I wish that I had some non drinker friends who would tend a sealed carboy for me. I always seem to drink it to soon. I currently have 20 gallons in my carboys.

Yep, I meant Papazian when he was talking about beer and the aging process. He definately was into aging mead and the longer the better.