My impression is that ales are typically best drunk within a couple weeks of brew day. It's my experience that letting them age in the bottles for 2-3 months yields the best beer, both improving body, head, and desirable flavours, and reducing estery flavours. Could there be something I'm doing wrong to make the beer mature too slowly?
You are doing absolutely nothing wrong. Many people are far too quick to drink their precious homebrew and most beers benefit a lot from aging. A few months for ales and simple lagers.
Beers with a high ABV should be aged much longer. I make a Chimay Grand Cru clone that I typically don't try for 4-6 months. Aging remove a lot of the "hot" taste from high alcohol beers and mellows them.
I think all of the BS from the megalager companies (Miller, Bud, etc) about "fresh beer" have given people the impression that a three week old beer is ready. Oh, you can drink it. It's just not at its best. I let bog-standard 5% ABV ales go at least six weeks before drinking. 1-2-3 Method.
Beer is about patience and many folks don't know how good their beer could be with a few extra weeks in a cool, dark cellar or closet. Mind you, I am not advocating you let a 5% Wit age for a year. It will lose a lot. But a month or two after bottling (or kegging) is a good idea. Rule of thumb is for me, the higher the ABV, the longer the aging.
Follow your instincts, Nick. You've discovered one of the most easily overlooked secrets of homebrewing all on your own. Kudos.Tweet