Wait for It

Beers that get better with age

Put a bottle of Heineken in your cellar and months later all you'll have is stale beer. But squirrel away a bottle-conditioned beer and you'll find an entirely different result: a bigger, bolder, brighter brew that appeals to beer and wine lovers alike.

These extremely food-friendly beers are corked with active yeasts that create a secondary fermentation within the bottle. Over time, they develop new, complex flavors that have wine lovers snapping to attention.

The best place to find bottle-conditioned beer is at brew emporiums like Brooklyn's Bierkraft and Portland's Saraveza, as well as at beer-centric restaurants like Quinn's Pub in Seattle, where they're a favorite of general manager Regan Vaughn. "Bottle-conditioned beers are still alive," he says. "Inside each bottle there's a tiny ecosystem that slowly evolves with age."

Here, beer experts from both coasts share their favorite bottle-conditioned bottles:

For the Newbie Bierkraft's Ben Granger recommends the Belgian Trappist ale Orval as a good entry point to bottle-conditioned beers. "Orval is big enough to stand up to food, but dry and clean enough to enjoy one or two in a single sitting," he says (bierkraft.com).

For the Collector Saraveza owner Sarah Pederson praises the Old World, European character of the Adam brew from Portland's Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. "It's a style of beer I've never tasted before, one that's basically extinct," she says (liquidsolutions.biz).

For the Domestic Drinker Toshiro Stang, Quinn's beer curator, says his favorite American-made bottle is Russian River Brewing Company's flagship brew, Damnation. "The carbonation is lively and it has just enough hops on the finish to dry it out and leave you ready for the next sip," he explains (wineundergroundgo.com).