Aging Sucaba

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by coquet, Feb 17, 2018.

  1. coquet

    coquet Initiate (106) Aug 31, 2014 Virginia

    Since a new batch of Sucaba is hitting stores now, this is probably a good time to ask: what are people's thoughts on aging Sucaba? It seems most of the past threads discussing this were from around 2012 and were comparing Sucaba to aged Abacus. Many of those old posts speculated that Abacus and Sucaba weren't the same recipe, so it might not have been an apples-to-apples comparison.

    So, now that we've had a few years' vintages to try, how does this one develop over time?


    Note--To head off some comments in advance, I've had multiple vintages of Sucaba before, all fresh, and had mixed thoughts, likely due to batch variation. I got several bottles this year, and I plan on having at least one of them fresh. Just trying to get some thoughts on whether/how long to let the others sit.
    Rodosman likes this.
  2. coquet

    coquet Initiate (106) Aug 31, 2014 Virginia

    Bump - I've got to imagine someone has tried aging this given that we're now on the seventh release.
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  3. youradhere

    youradhere Zealot (523) Feb 29, 2008 Washington

    FWIW I am pretty sure Sucaba is Abacus, Firestone had to change the name for legal reasons IIRC.

    As for aging- drink one and you tell us if it needs age. Is it too sweet, too hot, has some other characteristic that you know to benefit with age? My experience with barrel treated specialty beers like Sucaba (which I’ve had both and abacus), is that they only taste good to me at the 1-3 year range, getting more thin (I hate thin stouts) and oxidized by the year.

    Sorry to be wishy-washy on the reply of “yes” or “no”, but one thing most forget is that cellaring is completely subjective as to whether or not something “improves”. Case and point: I like Sam Adams Triple Bock, the 94-97, and I actually do like the oft-disparaged-on-this-site 97 vintage in partucular. Very subjective there if I were to tell you it has potential to go many more years (I will and I do), yet you will be hard pressed to find anyone to say anything nice about it whose had it on this forum.

    Now that I think of it, is this how cured meats came to be? “This beef is rotten” “No it’s not, it’s salami”.
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  4. CoreyC

    CoreyC Aspirant (213) Mar 16, 2015 Wisconsin

    I've it fresh a year ago and it was too hot - I actually did not like it (very few beers are too hot for me). I recently had a 1 year old and a 2 year old. I liked both a lot. For me, I would no longer drink it fresh and will try to age one at least 3 years to see if I like it more. Draft magazine recommended 2 years.
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  5. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,430) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    3 years worked for me
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  6. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (2,346) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I have also had Sucaba with 3 years on it, and it's fantastic. I prefer this with some age as fresh is often a bit hot.
    coquet likes this.
  7. Hoppedelic

    Hoppedelic Devotee (454) Dec 6, 2010 California
    Society Trader

    Sucaba ages with the best of them. I always try one fresh but they change for the better with some age. 18-24 months is the sweet spot for me.
    coquet likes this.
  8. wickedestman

    wickedestman Initiate (54) May 15, 2016 Finland

    They had the 2018 and 2016 Sucabas available at the brewery a few weeks back upon the release. The fresh was very nice compared to how I remember it (had it back in 2015 or so) and the 2016 had pretty nice aged flavors, but was probably not in its "peak" atm. It could be differences in the vintages but I guess the 2016 was a bit too young for being aged. With the specs of Sucaba, my feeling is that it could go well beyond 2-3 years.
    coquet likes this.
  9. Pabobcat

    Pabobcat Initiate (131) Mar 6, 2003 Pennsylvania

    I have two bottles of Sucabas/Abacus 2011 & 2012, had a 2010 in 2017 and it was still very good, probably look to drink this year or next.
  10. FourFingers414

    FourFingers414 Initiate (107) Aug 12, 2015 Illinois

    My thoughts on aging beer are kind of mixed. On one hand, some beer can change over time. On another hand so does ones palate. So then the other question becomes this, did the beer change or did my preference in style/flavor? I've met a good amount of people who say, "I'll just throw this in my cellar for a few years to see what happens" without ever trying it fresh. This concept makes little to no sense since there will never be a point of refernece or the ability to see what the brewmaster intended the beer to be. Now, back to the original thought of cellaring or any other beer. Honestly, I don't see the point. If you don't like a beer when it's fresh then you should probably not buy it & look for a beer that you do enjoy without having to age it since (yet again) it isn't what the brewmaster intended on. That's just my opinion.
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  11. bgold86

    bgold86 Crusader (766) Apr 1, 2015 New York

    Had 2015 Sucaba a month ago and it was utterly phenomenal, one of the strongest cellaring candidates in my opinion.
  12. Beginner2

    Beginner2 Poo-Bah (3,222) Feb 14, 2016 Illinois

    Had the 2018 just now and it is clearly too young for me. Too much carbonation and the flavors from the barrel have not melded. A good barleywine reminds me of fruit cake. While a very good ale, this 2018 is not there yet.... Now I need to go get another to age... before the rest of you get it.
    coquet likes this.
  13. pwdbyhops

    pwdbyhops Aspirant (224) Apr 1, 2015 Ohio

    In 2015-16, 2012 was past its prime. It wasnt drinking well at all. Faded a lot. We did a vertical and '12 was not nearly as good as newer vintages. After that, I did not age Sucaba for more than a year.

    BTW, I didnt like '18 as much as '16
    coquet likes this.
  14. dtjager

    dtjager Initiate (141) May 20, 2014 Illinois

    I did 12-14 recently and they basically all tasted the same (and great) with the nice rich caramel notes you’d be hoping for and no sign of off flavors from oxidation. We tried it with a fresh 2018 and thought the 2018 was disappointing by comparison. Not sure that means the aging helped or not but fresh was a thin boozy mess to me.
    wickedestman and coquet like this.
  15. the_ceeeeg

    the_ceeeeg Initiate (39) May 10, 2016 Illinois

    After reading all this... I am glad I picked up a bottle this year!
  16. darktronica

    darktronica Poo-Bah (2,375) Aug 29, 2014 Indiana
    Society Trader

    Fresh Sucaba... I don't know how to describe it well because I haven't had it fresh in a long time, but it tastes weird to me for a barleywine. Unique, not necessarily in either a good or a bad way, but odd. I always hold on to it for 2-3 years, after which I tend to think it's great, still unique but now in a very positive way.
  17. Yabu

    Yabu Aspirant (272) Feb 4, 2015 California

    Had to hear, I still have a few bottles of '15 left!
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  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,932) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    I had the 2016 fresh and thought it was incredible. I bought a 2018, and sounds like it may just not be quite as good overall as 2016, but I think I'll sit on it for a year. Actually I've only had Parabola once and it was recent batch and fresh, and thought that beer was hot/boozy so maybe FW's 2017/2018's are just coming out hot/boozy.
    Yabu likes this.
  19. CoreyC

    CoreyC Aspirant (213) Mar 16, 2015 Wisconsin

    Just had a 2015 tonight and thought it was really good - better than the fresher (fresh to 2 y.o.) I've had. I have one more 2015 and will wait another year on it as it seems to be be getting better (IMO) so far.
  20. DavidK1126

    DavidK1126 Initiate (49) May 7, 2019 New Jersey

    I really appreciate this thread. I bought a couple of bottles of the 2012 Sucuba on release and put them in my cellar for aging in pristine conditions. I don't enjoy barleywine unless it has aged for at least a couple of years, so benchmarking to a current release is not meaningful for me. What is immensely helpful, though, are the observations of knowledgeable drinkers who have experienced the beer at various junctures. Based on comments in this thread, I'll open a bottle of the 2012 sometime this year and then decide what to do about the other one. If I have anything cogent to say after drinking a bottle, I'll post it.
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  21. bl00

    bl00 Devotee (419) May 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Last night I opened up a 2017 Stickee Monkee. Sorry to say I didn't take detailed notes, but I think its past its prime for me. The nose was great- strong caramel with a bit of barrel. Taste reminded me more of a british barleywine, it was hoppier than I'd anticipate for a quad. Mouthfeel was still excellent and the soft carb held up. In the future I think I will stick to drinking it fresh and 1 year old.
  22. coquet

    coquet Initiate (106) Aug 31, 2014 Virginia

    Phenomenal timing for this thread to re-emerge. I just did a side-by-side of 2018 and 2019 last weekend.

    The 2018 bottle presented flavors of toffee, vanilla, dark dried fruit, honey, burnt sugar, and leather. The beer was noticeably sweet, but not excessively so. I definitely got more complexity out of the 15-month-old bottle as compared to the fresh one.

    The 2019 version showed toffee, vanilla, cola, honey, and burnt sugar. It wasn't as sweet as the 2018 bottle, but it also seemed to have less depth and less complexity. Surprisingly, this fresh bottle came off smoother and less boozy than the aged one. The fresh one also struck me as being the faintest bit more viscous, but the difference was not immense.

    Even apart from the age difference, there was clear batch variation between these two. Both tasted great, but I preferred the 2018 vintage due to its greater complexity. This comparison confirmed that, at least to my tastes, Sucaba is a good candidate for a year of aging. Many more bottles in the ol' cellar, and I look forward to seeing what additional time will do with this brew.
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  23. mikehblack

    mikehblack Initiate (129) Feb 10, 2010 California

    Drank a 2012 (2nd batch) the other day. Pretty well faded and oxidized at this point. Still decently enjoyable but flavors were muddled. Should have cracked this several years ago. I'm sure my 2011 Abacus isn't doing so hot either. I think Fresh-3 years is the sweet spot for BA Firestone beers.
    bl00 likes this.