St. Stefanus, known as a living beer, as it matures in the bottle, is stored for three months before being released from the brewery cellar. It can be enjoyed immediately or aged and consumed up to 18 months later. At three months the beer is light and fruity, by 18 months it becomes more complex and aromatic. Jef suggests to keep the beer in its best condition, store bottles away from sunlight, ideally in a dark room or cupboard and to keep the temperature between 8 and 16 ̊C to avoid killing the yeast, which creates the changing flavour profile.
To experience the full taste spectrum of St. Stefanus, the recommended milestones to age the beer until are 6, 9, 12 and 18 months. They can be enjoyed side by side as a comparison tasting and also paired with food. When St. Stefanus is 3-6 months the light, fruity flavours combine perfectly with oysters, chicken, herby salads and seasonal fruit desserts. 9-12 months St. Stefanus is the ideal accompaniment to barbecued meats, pork and stews. At 15-18 months the aromatic spicy flavours are a good match with roast meats, steak, lamb and chocolate.
Jef Versele comments: “St. Stefanus is unique. It can be aged just like wine, allowing you to discover a range of taste experiences. My personal preference is the beer at 6 months. I encourage everyone to cellar some St. Stefanus, at home, in a bar or restaurant. It’s easier than you think.”
Jef advises how best to serve St. Stefanus once aged: “Cool the bottle to 8˚C, hold your glass at 45˚ and pour from a height. By holding the bottle high above the glass, the CO2 build-up is able to escape, making for a smoother, more enjoyable taste."
As St. Stefanus is refermented in the bottle, it can be poured in two ways, clear or cloudy. For a clear serve, leave one finger’s width of beer in the bottom of the bottle. For a cloudy serve, pause after two-thirds of the beer has been poured and give the bottle a swirl. This mixes the yeast into the remainder of the liquid. Continue to pour all of the liquid into the glass for the perfect cloudy finish.