Catching Up - Drinking Down

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by PapaGoose03, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,283) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I have a cellar that I am drinking down because I've let the age of the beers get away from me while I kept adding to the collection. Now that I'm drinking the oldest ones I'm finding myself saying too often, “Oops, I kept this one too long.”

    I promised in another forum that I'd write about my experiences here. Hopefully my synopsis will give some guidance to those of you who have the same beers stored away. I have an old fridge in the basement in which I have always kept my 'cellared' beers, and its temp varies from 35 to 50 degrees depending on whether some leftover foods are stored in it that won't fit in the fridge upstairs.

    Although I have cellared many beers (138 unique beers/years released), many of them were a single bottle that I drank within a few months of its purchase because I had too much temptation to drink it so that I could experience that beer. I kept a spreadsheet record of those along with all of the other beers, but I'm only going to summarize the beers that I drank at 4+ years of age if I remembered to date my notes (which I frequently didn't do).

    My main issue that causes me to dislike what I'm drinking is when I can taste a molasses flavor, for want of a better descriptor. I don't like that flavor, and molasses was not an ingredient in the beer (nor was it there in an earlier bottle of the same beer when drank younger). To some of you it may describe 'complexity' but I don't like it.

    Arcadia – Big Dick's Old Ale (2007): I drank this one at 7 years of age. It had a honey character like a mead.

    Arcadia – Cereal Killer Barleywine (2009): I drank a bottle at 8 years of age, and it tasted as fresh as when it was bottled.

    Arcadia – Cereal Killer Barleywine (labeled as 2009 but stamped as bottled 2012): drank at 9 years. Way past prime; like pure molasses.

    Arcadia – Cereal Killer Barleywine (2014): For comparison to the above beer, I drank one of these at 2 years and felt that it was already past prime.

    Arcadia – BBA Cereal Killer Barleywine (2012): Drank at 4 years good but not exciting at all like it was fresh.

    Arcadia – BBA Imperial Stout (2012): drank one at 4 years and it was very tasty. Drank another at 4.5 years and was still very tasty but the dregs had a sourness when I added them into the last ounce. This one probably peaked in 2017.

    Arcadia – BBA Shipwreck Porter (2010): drank the last one in 2018 and it was just as good as fresh, so there was no benefit to aging it. (Many people report all Shipwreck Porter examples as being 'hot' when fresh, but I've never agreed with that. It certainly was not so when I drank it at 8 yrs.)

    Arcadia – BBA Shipwreck Porter (2013): drank the last one at 4 years and it was just as good as fresh, so there was no improvement from aging it. (See 'hot' comment above. Same applies here - not 'hot')

    Arcadia – XV Anniversary Ale (2011): this is a sour ale that tasted like fresh when I had the last one at 4 years of age.

    Bell's – Batch 9000 (2010): (this was not the BBA version) I drank this beer at 7 years. It was a bit past prime with a little molasses showing up.

    Bell's – BBA Batch 9000 (2010): I drank this one at 7 years. It was still an outstanding beer.

    Bell's – Saturn BBA Barleywine (2015): starting to go downhill at 3 years old.

    Boulevard – Bourbon Barrel Quad (2010): drank at 6 years and still very good.

    Dark Horse – BBA Plead the 5th Imperial Stout (2014): drank at 4 years and it's still very good.

    Firestone Walker – Sucaba BBA English Barleywine (2012 #2): drank at 4 years; had some alcohol burn and bourbon was not very notable.

    Founders – KBS (2016): drank last one at two yrs; bourbon and coffee both have faded. Still tasty.

    Founders – Nemesis (2010): drank last one at 8 years. Way past prime. Just an average RIS.

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout (2010): drank last one at 6 yrs. Had molasses notes.

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout (2012): drank one at 2 yrs; aging well. Drank one at 6 years was going downhill.

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout (2014): drank one at 3 years; had mild sourness but still had good bourbon notes.

    Goose Island – Nightstalker Imperial Stout (2010): drank at 7 years; still outstanding

    New Glarus – Raspberry Tart (2010): drank at 6 years; tasted old, hoppy, more sour/tart than new.

    New Glarus – Serendipity (2010?): drank at 6 years; a bit of molasses was showing up but still tasty.

    Old Dominion – Millennium Barleywine (2010): drank last one at 8 years; soured but tasty.

    Old Dominion – Millennium Barleywine (2012): drank last one at 6 years; way past prime.

    Southern Tier – Choklat Imp. Stout (2011): drank at 5 years; still like fresh version.

    Thirsty Dog – BBA Siberian Night Imp. Stout (2016): drank at 2 years; still like fresh.

    Thirsty Dog – Wulver BBA Wee Heavy ( 2015): drank one at 2 years; still like fresh. Drank 2 more at 3 years; a bit past prime.
  2. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,435) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    That "molasses" flavor is from oxidation of the malt. I wouldn't call it "molasses" myself, that's a very specific flavor note, but I'd certainly call it caramelish (but certain beers could certainly become molasses-like). And, for some beers that actually helps them in aging, but then again that's all up to personal taste.

    Without doing what math I could myself would you say that most of these were better fresh?

    And I certainly understand when a beer goes a little wonky like the slightly sour Old Dominion Millenium - I once had a case of Dogfish Head Immortale that got a little funky and it was awesome, a totally different beer, but I don't consider that a proper aspect of aging, that's an abnormality. Do you agree?
    #2 NeroFiddled, Aug 7, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
  3. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,283) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I've never read anywhere what oxidized malt might taste like, but I had a feeling that's what was happening. Thanks for the confirmation.

    Most definitely they were better fresh.

    My notes say that I actually liked that Millennium that went a little sour. It was an anomaly because I had some older ones that were all okay.
    kemoarps and Bitterbill like this.
  4. BalancingBrooms

    BalancingBrooms Devotee (422) Aug 22, 2013 Louisiana

    How would you characterize it?
    PapaGoose03 and kemoarps like this.
  5. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,283) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I just looked at my notes and there was nothing there other than the mm/yy that I drank it. I'm not good at writing beer reviews, thus short on any notes made. I can only assume it was not heavy with a Belgian character or I would have noted that since I don't really like the yeast phenols. Sorry I can't help further.
  6. BalancingBrooms

    BalancingBrooms Devotee (422) Aug 22, 2013 Louisiana

    Interesting to hear and im not too surprised. I’ve BBQ at 1.5 years and it was more a vanilla bomb than a quad
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  7. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Devotee (439) Apr 8, 2017 Indiana

    Do you think this was just you're palate that day? Vanilla Bomb for a quad is just so bizarre to me. I don't get Vanilla at all from quads (even BBA ones)
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  8. BalancingBrooms

    BalancingBrooms Devotee (422) Aug 22, 2013 Louisiana

    Vanilla is not a normal flavor I get from quads either. Ive picked it up though in the few bourbon barrel aged ones I’ve had, just not to that extreme. I’ve probably exaggerating a bit too tbh. Going for memory not notes
  9. lightman1

    lightman1 Initiate (78) Oct 19, 2013 Arkansas

    I'm guilty of the same thing. So many great beers are only offered in large format bottles and my opportunities to share are limited. On the opening weekend of Dove Season I'll have a house full of guest and the entire Duck season will see guest every weekend and both are great times with friends. Opportunities are rather limited for the rest of the year. I have tried to set up regular dates for bottle shares, but have had limited results.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  10. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (267) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I have way too many verticals in my cellar that are getting long of tooth; I have been meaning to get friends together to open a few, maybe I’ll try doing a similar thread to this. I think it would be fun.
    PapaGoose03 and Beer_Economicus like this.
  11. lightman1

    lightman1 Initiate (78) Oct 19, 2013 Arkansas

    Well, Duck season opened last weekend and we had a tasting that evening at my house. We made a pretty good dent in my older selection of large format bottles. We pulled the fire ring around to the front of the shop door and 5 or 6 of us split about a dozen bottles. Only one had faded to the point that it was a different beer.
  12. lightman1

    lightman1 Initiate (78) Oct 19, 2013 Arkansas

    Well, we hit another lick at my stash tonight. We have some friends in for duck season again and some family in for Christmas. While it was a little cool we did manage to sit around in the shop door and work on the fridge. We had one that was past its prime but overall everyone had a good time. It was a little windy to drag the fire ring around and we quit a little early. The Duck hunters will be leaving by 4am so early was probably good.

    I'm going to have to exercise a little restraint buying large format bottles in the future. I hate drain pouring an expensive beer because it went past its prime!