Some of the beers at Thomas Berg's home, which are in his collection of unique and exotic brews, photographed in Plano on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

Some of the beers at Thomas Berg's home, which are in his collection of unique and exotic brews, photographed in Plano on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

Lousi Deluce/The Dallas Morning News

Most casual beer drinkers keep a six-pack and perhaps a growler in the fridge, but what happens when you have so much to choose from that it doesn't fit alongside the fruits and vegetables?

Serious beer collectors store their drinkable treasures in cellars, which come in all shapes and sizes. Some are makeshift, others are decked out with special shelving. Much like a wine cellar, a beer cellar should inhabit a dark and cool spot in a home. (Most experts recommend keeping the temperature 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the Texas summer, that'll cost you.)

Cellaring has become a popular hobby in the beer community, but just because you love a certain style doesn't mean it should be aged. India pale ales (IPAs), for example, should usually be drunk shortly after they are packaged since that's when the hops will taste freshest.

So which types age best?

Think big beers, such as high-in-alcohol stouts, strong ales and barleywines, as well as sours. Darker beers will smooth out over time, minimizing some of their boozy characteristics. Same goes for sour styles, which are expected to blossom with complexity to balance acidity.

We recently took a peek inside three local beer nerds' cellars to check out some of their favorite recipes and figure out why they're saving the stash.

Jase Hicks poses with some of his specialty beers at his home in The Colony.

Jase Hicks poses with some of his specialty beers at his home in The Colony.

Jason Janik/Special Contributor

Jase Hicks

From: The Colony

Cellars: 200 to 300 bottles

When did you realize you needed to devote space to your beer collection?

"Probably my first trip back from Chicago in 2013," says Hicks, who keeps his bottles in cabinets under a bar area. "I brought back probably $1,200 worth of beer."

Favorite beer: Viking Metal by Jester King Brewery

"It's a gin barrel-aged, juniper beer," says Hicks, who bought three cases of the beer when it was released in 2013. "I'm down to two bottles."

Which are you saving for a special occasion?

El Catador Club 3 from Cigar City Brewing Co.

"There has to be a specific group of people I'm opening it with so I'm going to wait until they're all available," Hicks says.

Jase Hicks' specialty beer collection consists of 200-300 bottles.

Jase Hicks' specialty beer collection consists of 200-300 bottles.

Jason Janik/Special Contributor

Which have you had the longest?

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René, a 2011 lambic from Brouwerij Lindemans

"It's nothing crazy," Hicks says. "It's from when I was first getting into craft beer."

The craziest thing Hicks has ever done for a beer? Traveled thousands of miles without knowing whether he'd be able to pick up a bottle.

Buzz had been building around Side Project Brewing in St. Louis since the brewer of another prominent operation in the area, Perennial Artisan Ales, began testing out new original recipes. The hype reached a point where drinkers were camping out for Side Project releases. To quell the problem, the brewer announced the release of Fuzzy, a peach sour, would be distributed by lottery only.

"It was a nine-hour drive to St. Louis and we didn't know if we were even going to get that. So we got there and luckily he was bluffing," Hicks says.

Shannon Birkes holds bottles of Rare Barrel's Map of the Moon and Side Project Brewing's Derivation at her house in Irving.

Shannon Birkes holds bottles of Rare Barrel's Map of the Moon and Side Project Brewing's Derivation at her house in Irving.

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Shannon Birkes

From: Irving

Cellars: 250 to 300 bottles

When did you realize you needed to devote space to your beer collection?

"When I had probably 15 boxes laying around," says Birkes, who then moved her bottles to a spare living room closet. "We did some research to how we could get [the closet] as climate controlled as possible and put it into a more organizational place ... I'm running out of space as is."

Oldest beer: Anchor Brewing Co.'s Christmas Ale from 1998

She acquired it about a year ago through a bottle-trading website.

Shannon Birkes holds a bottle of The Lost Abbey's Cable Car Ale, which she has been aging in her cellar.

Shannon Birkes holds a bottle of The Lost Abbey's Cable Car Ale, which she has been aging in her cellar.

JAe S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News

Most expensive:

A three-liter, or "double magnum," of Cranbarrel from American Solera brewery, which cost $130. Though Birkes notes she also has a bottle of Derivation Blend #4 from Side Project Brewing Co., which retails on the secondary market for up to $500.

"The prices of carbonated water," she laughs. "It's crazy."

Which are you saving for a special occasion?

Maman from Perennial Artisan Ales

"I've got an app called Untapped that people check beers into," she says. 

"I've got my 1,000th check-in coming soon."

Birkes' strategy for collecting? Go big or go home.

"I want to try as many things as possible ... the rarer the bottles the better," she says. "And if there's something I really like, I want to get as much of it as possible, if that's possible. Sometimes cost prohibits that. And supply."

Thomas Berg is pictured at his home with his collection of unique and exotic beers in Plano.

Thomas Berg is pictured at his home with his collection of unique and exotic beers in Plano.

Lousi Deluca/The Dallas Morning News

Thomas Berg

From: Plano

Cellars: About 650 bottles. It's tough to know exactly how many, Berg says, since he hasn't updated the master spreadsheet in a while.

When did you realize you needed to devote space to your beer collection?

"Too late," Berg laughs. He lived in Brooklyn when his passion for craft beer took hold and his apartment wasn't well suited to be a storage unit. "Slowly [beers] started filling up the shelf, then started filling underneath the stairs and it just kept going."

He and his fiancée Rebecca Kelley now live in an apartment they chose because the closet/cellar doesn't share exterior walls with the home and stays moderately climate controlled.

Most prized beers: The seasons series from Drie Fonteinen

"It's probably the best tasting gueuze that we have," Berg says. "They're all special blends from 2011 put together as a way of commemorating the seasons. They age just marvelously. We don't have winter, but we have the other three."

Thomas Berg uses a corkscrew to remove the cork to a gueuze from Brasserie Cantillon.

Thomas Berg uses a corkscrew to remove the cork to a gueuze from Brasserie Cantillon.

Louis Deluca/The Dallas Morning News

Oldest beer: Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.'s Adam old ale

Hair of the Dog is "one of the originators of barrel aging," Berg says. "This is batch 24. The first batch was in 1993, so this is from '97, I want to say."

Traveled the furthest for: Cantillon Classic Gueuze from Brasserie Cantillon

Berg and Kelley traveled to Brussels for New Year's Eve 2015 to pick up two magnums of this beer from the brewery. It's also their "special occasion" beer: They'll serve it at their wedding next spring.

What's the most beer you've ever picked up in one trip?

"This past trip for sure," Berg says of when he and Kelley went on a road trip through the Northwest, Utah and Colorado. "We brought home 150 to 200 bottles."

Thirsty? Soak up more beer news at GuideLive.com/craft-beer.

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