5 Year Sucuba Vertical - Calling All Foodies!

Discussion in 'Beer & Food' started by TrojanRB, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,121) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    As some have you have seen in WBAYDN, I’ve been going through a kitchen remodel, and the end is in sight. To celebrate, I’m planning on inviting some close friends, raiding the cellar, and cooking a nice dinner.

    I’ve got a 5 year Sucuba vertical (2012, 13, 14, 15, 16) lined up....since Firestone didn’t release one in 2017, I figured this would be a good time!

    For those of you that have done something similar...can you recommend pairings or format? Is doing all five side by side too much?

    It’s a big, complex beer...so I want something hearty that will stand up to it, without being overpowering. I was leaning towards a big rib roast with root vegetables for the main course. Alternatively, maybe braised lamb shanks with mushroom risotto. I feel like some fat will help balance the beer.

    Probably for dessert some humboldt fog and other cheese pairings with jelly.
  2. ernh

    ernh Initiate (169) Jun 10, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    When Sucaba (RIP) 2015 came out I did a 13/14/15 vertical and it was pretty cool. The vintages varied a LOT more than when I did similar verticals of Parabola and Stickee Monkee the following year (they were all remarkably similar).

    However at this point they're all so old I think the variation will have lessened. I had a 2016 recently (which was noticeably hot when it came out) and it was awesomely mellow now. 2015 is my favorite year (never had 12) and the one I had last summer was fantastic. But, the hopping really has faded almost entirely. Think about the malt and the bourbon as you choose your foods.

    My personal preference is not to muddy "rare" beers with food. Food pairing to me is more fun with less rare stuff. I'd do the vertical either before or after dinner (or both).

    Last summer I did eight years of The Abyss with six other friends and what we ended up doing was opening the oldest bottle, pouring about half of it into tasters (an ounce or two each), then setting the bottle aside. Then we'd open the newest and do the same. Then one from the middle, and jumping around. As we went, people could go back and re-taste the ones they liked most. Unless you folks have Cicerone palates (we certainly don't), remember that this isn't going to inform future buying decisions, so just relax and have fun with it.

    mltobin, TrojanRB, Lucular and 4 others like this.
  3. Premo88

    Premo88 Meyvn (1,411) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    Your food ideas sound perfect to me. Some like to pair sweet beers with sweet foods and deserts, but I personally prefer the contrast your suggesting.

    With that said, I second @ernh's suggestion of keeping the food and beer separate if the ultimate goal is to compare the vintages. From past experiences, I'd be tempted to do a full run of 1 or 2 oz. sips across the full vertical before the meal, then do it again after the meal. I'd drink water during the meal and let the water/food serve as a huge palate cleanser between the sessions.

    That's just one person's suggestion of course. Others may have much better ideas.

    Personally, I'd plan the meal and the overall night meticulously, but once people start showing up, let her rip! Whatever happens happens, and the best tastings I've been a part of went NOTHING like I had imagined. They became their own organic thing and were a blast. If you're the type to worry (I am), having more than enough food and backup beer will take care of everything.

    Good luck and post the results! Even just a few words ... I'm curious how much y'all find different among the vintages.
  4. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (1,821) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member

    Agree with this 100%. I've always felt that barrel aged beers don't pair well with food. I really enjoy bourbon, but if I'm drinking it it's either before a meal or after it. Barleywine (non-barrel aged) is like the port of the beer world to me. It's good paired with blue cheese but better enjoyed alone.
    Premo88, TrojanRB and ernh like this.

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,297) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    For desert or appetizers I strongly recommend bacon wrapped dates !
    This is my favorite thing to eat while drinking Sucaba or any other barrel aged barleywines. You and your friends will enjoy this pairing very much.
    Premo88, TrojanRB, Lucular and 2 others like this.
  6. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (1,934) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I'm of the opinion to keep a limited vertical such as this free from food pairings; however, if food is a must, the bacon wrapped dates for an appetizer, braised roast with root vegetables and grilled brussel sprouts, and cheese and jam for dessert does sound delightful. I'd look for a fatty cut of meat to roast and use thick cut bacon for the appetizers. It would help balance out the sweetness of the beer.

    By the way, I have a bottle of '16 I can contribute and have never had Sucuba. Can I come over? :grin:
    Premo88, TrojanRB and GOBLIN like this.
  7. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,336) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Depends on your goal. Are you interested pairing food with beer or the changes in the beer.

    If your goal is to decide what changes have taken place over time with that beer, I definitely side with the folks arguing against food pairing during the tasting. The food would provide palate changers (and not necessarily in a good way) not palate cleansers so your tasting focus would actually be on pairing beer with food not the effects of aging the beer.

    The model I've developed for doing such tastings is to order the beers from newest to oldest and serve only one beer at a time. Between beers have lots of water, I prefer spring water rather than chlorinated water, and unsalted crackers or unsalted pretzels. You'll get much better palate cleansing or resetting that way.

    If you like you can give folks a piece of paper and a pencil to take a few notes as they taste each beer, but save any discussion of individual beers until after all 5 have been tasted. Then have a few questions such as

    "What changes if any did you notice across the samples you tasted?"
    "Which year did you prefer and what was there you enjoyed the most?"

    Then switch to dinner mode. I'd a pot luck supper works well. Lots of folks are just fine with having a pot luck supper so that they feel a bit more like they are contributing to the event. If you have any beer left over it can be set out at that time for people to finish off while eating and/or comparing notes, etc.

    Good luck!
  8. spelingchampeon

    spelingchampeon Defender (638) Feb 21, 2016 Delaware
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Sounds like a great time to celebrate your new kitchen. I agree with everyone about the food. If there's enough beer for everyone (without it being too much for everyone), I'd do the beer before and after dinner. Just wash the palate with water during dinner.

    My (unscientific) feelings would be that the fats in the food might hold your taste buds hostage for a while.

    You could even do a preliminary tasting before your gathering, by enjoying some other delicate, tasty brew with a rib roast (or similar). Try the beer(s) before, during, and after you eat, too see how they taste. There's nothing wrong with doing some necessary preliminary taste testing.
    Premo88 and TrojanRB like this.
  9. TriggerFingers

    TriggerFingers Disciple (381) Apr 29, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Just be aware if you open them before dinner, people may continue drinking what they like through dinner. Bottle from one or two years may be depleted by the time you want to revisit later in the evening. If you’re hosting you don’t need to be a hawk or “pull” them, just be aware someone may help themselves to a healthy snifter of one they like.

    I’d personally drink them before and through the meal while enjoying the evening or skip the “meal” all together. Next would be to wait until after dinner.

    Like others have suggested, an aperitif isn’t a bad idea either if you want to go that route. I’d suggest a little SN Bigfoot (fresh and/or aged) or 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA. The BFoD has always struck me as having a “barley wine light” flavor profile and presence. It may offer a nice little “tune up” for the evening.
    spelingchampeon, Premo88 and TrojanRB like this.
  10. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,121) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I will keep you all posted.

    We just had the cabinets installed & painted...countertops later this week.

    Dinner will probably be 3 weeks out...will be sure to post info & pics!
    Harrison8 likes this.
  11. stevepat

    stevepat Aspirant (294) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    I'll toss in one suggestion that I haven't seen but really enjoy. While going through your first round of tastings you could serve it with a course of light, tart/sour 'salads'. This could a pickle plate, a raw salad of shredded veggies 'cooked' in lemon/lime juice, a ceviche, whatever you like that's in that vein. I find that the acidity of these foods cuts the build up of these beers flavors and acts as a good palette cleanser. I think sometimes we mistake pairing with matching but I think (especially when you're trying to taste subtle things like yearly variation) it's nice to have food that almost opposes the beer instead of complimenting, and thus blending, the flavor.
    BeastOfTheNortheast likes this.
  12. BeerZombies1

    BeerZombies1 Devotee (402) Jan 20, 2014 Nevada
    Beer Trader


    Did this same thing with a Abacus/Sucaba 2011-2016 vert.

    Food was:
    Course 1:
    Aged Umami Butter, Sea Salt
    Course 2:
    Cardamom Apple & Poppy Dressing
    Course 3:
    Lap Cheong, Shiitake Mushroom & Uni Hollandaise
    Course 4:
    Hudson Valley Farms Duck Breast and Foie Gras, Wood Ear Mushroom, Salted Cucumber and Plum & Duck Bone Broth
    Chanterelle Mushrooms, Crispy Shallot, Px Sherry
    Course 5:
    Vanilla Bean, Orange & Cocoa Nib Crunch
    Cherry Yuzu Marmalade & Whipped Cream