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Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by TheGent, Jan 1, 2020.
Kicking off the new thread for 2020. Let’s see what your cellars have to offer in the New Year!
Dogfish Head Olde School
A Barleywine style ale brewed with figs and dates. 15% ABV. Bottled on 12/17/2016.
Look: Pours a murky, but translucent medium to deep amber color. A finger of beige head quickly disappears leaving a ring of foam around the edge of the glass. No visible carbonation.
Smell: Figs, dates, burnt sugar, and some warming alcohol. Sweet fruit cake. Some tobacco. Candy hazelnut.
Taste: Sweet, dark dried fruit on the tip of the tongue. Figs and dates. Bready, with some faint yeast esters as well. The alcohol is quite present and a little fusel in nature. The website says 85 IBU. Take that for what you will, but this beer is quite hoppy with some lemon rind bitterness.
Feel: Medium level of carbonation, and quite dry and bitter on the finish.
Overall: No aging issues here. After three years this beer is still quite boozy and very hoppy. I prefer English Barleywine over American, but I do enjoy both. And this one combines elements from the two. I enjoy drinking this beer because the dark fruit flavors are nice without being overly sweet as the finish dries and bitters out. It is still pretty hot so I look forward to seeing how the hops and alcohol change a year from now. Definitely prefer this beer with age.
Happy New Year all! My first post in a while. I greatly enjoyed lurking this forum in 2019. Last night I had a beer that I enjoyed so much I needed to share. With 2019 coming to a close I thought it was time to drink my last 2009 Bigfoot. I haven't had a Bigfoot Ale since 2016, which was coincidently a 2009 as well, and that was also the oldest Bigfoot I'd had at 7 years of age. I love Bigfoot, fresh or aged, and it was one of the beers that not only got me into cellar/aging but craft beer in general. The problem is I want to drink it right away. I'm glad that somehow I let this one slip off my radar and get to the 10 year mark.
For starters the pour produced a thick and creamy head. I did not pour aggressively and I expected the beer to be on the flat side. It looked like it was just bottled. The nose was a rich with figgy malt. The taste was out of this world. Flavors of doughy malt with some sweet raisins and fig. It reminded me of a sticky bun with raisins, although not as sweet. The balance of the flavor and its richness is what really struck me. There wasn't a trace of oxidation. I took my time with it allowing it to warm up and its full flavor profile to shine. The mouthfeel was thick and chewy. I didn't notice the carbonation although it was there (as exhibited by the head).
I loved this beer. It felt like this age was the exact right time to drink it as it seemed to be at its peak without any signs of drop off. I have three 2010's left and then I'm all out. Looking forward to enjoying what I have and restocking. Hopefully I can have some patience/willpower to hang onto a bottle or two for another 10 years or maybe more.
2013 - Stone Farking Wheaton. I believe this is the 1st vintage. Poured with little to no head. Carbonation still present to my surprise. Aroma of dark fruit. Taste includes notes of dark chocolate, cherries, barrel, dark fruit and some alcohol heat. Smooth feel with some viscosity. Overall, a decent beer. The heat from the 13% abv is still pretty evident. I thought it would have mellowed out by now.
The Bruery's Oude Tart with cherries from 2016 is an excellent beer to be sharing right now with my best friend. My full review is linked to below.
Drank this one on New Year’s Eve and I was stunned at how great it was: 2009 JW Lees sherry barrel aged. Carbonation was low but there was just enough life left that it wasn’t totally still; there was a lot of floaty particle matter at the bottom of the glass but there was still a decent head from a vigorous pour and a nicely full and silky feel. Flavor was just nuts, really close to a Pedro ximenez sherry but more complex; there was a ton of dark fruit sweetness and interesting oxidized character, toasted bread and nuts and vinous notes. I was a little worried this would be well over the hill but it just nailed the sweet spot for me. There are some 2010 and 2012 bottles hanging around in the same store I will try to get back to before long. I had a calvados bottle of similar age that wasn’t quite as appealing but something about the sherry treatment is just perfect.
Another recent selection was a 2011 Affligem Noel I scored sitting on the dusty shelves of a smoke shop - the proprietor just gave it to me when I bought a bottle of bourbon county. It was only slightly worse for wear in that the carbonation might have been a little lower than desirable and the flavors just slightly muted but it was still a solid Belgian dark ale even after all those years of storage in completely poor environs. Obviously
These beers hold up really well over the long haul even if 8-9 years might be a little much. I don’t think the Affligem is a top of class beer at its best (solid b?) and I’m dubious of holding stuff like westy 12 or abt 12 for over a decade like some have suggested although of course I’d like to drink them and decide for myself. For science.
2018 Stone Brewing Fyodor
4.29/5 rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Brewed 1/25/2018. Had trouble removing the cork and had the resort to a corkscrew. Poured most of a 500 ml bottle into a DFH tulip. The body was as dark as Rasputin's soul with an ample tan head. Drinking in a 58 degree room everything got better as it reached room temperature. At first everything seemed thin with the char dominating but eventually the other flavors prevailed. Never specifically noticed the anise in smell or taste but lots of dark fruits and barrel were present. Mouthfeel was fine for a big stout.
Maybe I've been spoiled by BCBS and Jackie O's barrel aged stouts but this just didn't deliver what I was hoping it would. Maybe I'll try it again to see if this was just a subjective one time thing. It wasn't bad by any reasonable criteria but just wasn't the knock it out of the park experience I was hoping for.
You are not alone. Early in my beer adventures, before I ever had BCBS (which is currently my favorite BA stout), I tried two BA stouts from Stone; one was Fyodor. I knew immediately that it was “fine,” but not amazing, even without much comparison. It’s Alright, but not worth the price. Under no circumstances should it be more than $5 for a 12oz (not that it is sold in that format), considering the size of the brewery, and honestly, it should really be probably a tad cheaper, but at least at that price I might be willing to buy it once in awhile. At it’s current and past pricing, not a chance.
First trek to the cellar in the new year. Bell's 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve. Bottled 5/11/2018 in honor of the beer's (not the breweries) 30th anniversary.
Just shy of 20 months in the bottle, I only held this one for science as I found the year old version to have already fallen far from it's pleasant character fresh. This one may have pulled itself back together a bit or perhaps I'm just in a better mood today.
The pour yields an inky cherrywood colored liquid capped by a minimal head even with an aggressive pour.
Immediately the room is filled with the aroma of cherry cough syrup. Upon closer inspection the aroma is very boozy cherry cough syrup esque with notes of stale red wine and rain soaked charred wood. Not appealing frankly.
And the taste is only marginally better with tart black cherry juice dominating the flavor along with off brand cola. Reminds me of some sort of natural cherry based cough syrup in the taste as well.
Body is simultaneously thin and overly syrupy.
All in all I'm not finishing this beer and I'm glad to be rid of them. I suppose that a certain type of person might really enjoy this, someone who regularly drinks tart cherry juice, perhaps someone who is eating the right sort of creamy dessert? Not me though, I originally gave it a 3.84 fresh, now I would probably put it at about a 2.84. Would not recommend and if you are still holding onto any of these I'd be inclined to sit on it for another 6-12 months and see if anything changes
Found a dusty 4-pack of Founders Breakfast Stout dated 10/30/2015 and had to buy it.
Coffee, coffee, coffee! No carb, but smells and tastes like an iced coffee. The creamy BS mouth feel is gone. As it got warmer I got a little chocolate and liked it a lot better.
Would not recommend aging this long but it pretty decent and I will finish the 4-pack!
2017 Stille Nacht from De Dolle. Tons of head on the pour. Nose is red wine, toffee, sap, pears, malts, bread, and some dull lemon notes. Taste follows the nose - sweet fruity/wine notes are upfront. A touch of bitterness on the finish. Grass, leather, toffee, candy, and peaches come through. Overall, this is a brilliant and complex beer that ages beautifully.
The no carbonation surprised me but I betcha it aged better than the same year's KBS.
I had a 2010 in 2011 and it was hot as hell. I said to myself at the time...this could use some cellaring. You just proved it. Prost!
Just a friendly PSA/Reminder to drink these. Almost 2 years old. I wasn't in a rush to finish off what I had left and I took for granted that it doesn't age graceful. It was good. No unsavory flavors. Bourbon barrel was strong but the chocolate, coffee, etc was a bit muted (of course). These flavors seem to have more pop when fresh. So get out there and do the right thing, and remember sharing's caring.
Agreed! This evolves into something amazing!
2012 Fruet. Nose is sherry, bourbon, cherries, a touch of oxidation, candy, toffee, brown sugar, marmalade, and some oak. Taste is super smooth, although the age is definitely detectable. A small amount of oxidation is present, but in no way off-putting. A well-rounded beer, with nice notes of bourbon, dark fruit, malts, yeast, and toffee. Very nice stuff. Can't believe I have held on to this for so long.
2012 North Coast Brewing Co. Old Stock Ale
Drinking the next to last of the 2012s as I like to begin the year with one of these, my first introduction into the joys of English old ales. Still plenty of carbonation as poured into a DFH tulip but the color has darkened into a reddish dark amber. Before I get into any tasting notes, like an idiot I brushed my teeth before enjoying this because my post dinner mouth tasted like hot garbage. Be that as it may, adding an artificial mint to my palate completely screwed everything. It's been an unusually warm January day here, as in the windows are open, so it did get to warm up more than usual at this time of the year.
Even after it warmed up the smell was very muted. There was some vanilla and dark fruit but not to the level I was expecting. The taste was initially more fusil than I was previously accustomed to but as it warmed up, and that fucking artificial mint subsided, a richer taste of vanilla, brown sugar and dark fruit took over. I hadn't planned on doing a vertical with subsequent years but maybe when I enjoy the last one I'll do it for comparison purposes. Because, even though these are capable of being aged far in excess of eight years according to the brewer, maybe the optimum spot has been exceeded.
2017(maybe 2016) Central Waters BBA Stout
Picked this up at a normally reliable bottle shop near my folks during the holidays, turns out it has changed ownership and they have given up inventory management. I was hardpressed to find many of the prominent localish brewers hoppy offerings under 8 months and I found this 4-pack that is either 2+ or 3+ years old (CW uses the label notch method to denote vintage and this one seems about 80% certain to be 2017 but it is not spot on on any of the bottles)
Pours a lovely mahogany brown with a decent cocoa colored head.
The nose is Prunes through the roof as soon as you pop the cap. This is the dominant aroma throughout, supported by a pleasantly bitter tobacco, a stale bourbon and cola note, and a pleasant fig and raisin heavy fruit cake note.
Taste hits with chocolate/mocha at first at cellar temp with a rising vanilla creme note and the same fig/raisin fruit cake growing in prominence as the beer warms.
The feel is smooth and somewhat light.
I haven't had this specific beer fresh that I can recall but I've had cassian and peruvian sunset fresh and this is much subdued in terms of flavor intensity. However it is also very well melded and coherent and I suspect that this is near the peak of it's quality, maybe just a bit past. Definitely would be buying a few more packs of this aged stuff (16$ a 4-pack!) if I lived over there
This is one of the beers that I am aging from his birth year until my grandson turns 21. Just picked up the 2017 for my granddaughter as it didn't seem fair that she'd miss out (assuming they hold up!).
Ah yes welcome to the new year indeed. We're doing a little side by side of the 2018 and 2019 Grandfather Raven from Black Raven (released in December of each year as best as I can tell).
Black Raven claims to put easy to read date codes, but that does not bear out on these bottles. Still, I think I figured them out: The one I had in the 'cellar' reads: 1801091348, which I take to mean 2018, December 14th (348th day of the year). Not sure what the ...01091... is about though. The 2019 bottle that I bought this evening reads: 1905101319, which I take to be November 14th 2019. Whose knows.
They're both beautiful once again. My original review from 2015 noted the large satin head, and those are true again here. The younger one looks a little lacier/billowier while the 2018 looks a little more subdued, but that could be imagination or simple pour variation or whatever.
The newer one has an aroma of dried cocoa/dusty chocolate powder, some roasty character and coffee. The year old one though... super rich. Markedly more luxuriant feeling... fudge vs cocoa powder. Original review mentioned both of those directions.
Bitter chocolate and coffee and again a drier sharper profile on the fresher bottle. The aged one is more blended and mellowed and perhaps even a little shaved off? Duller. The bitter finish of black coffee and bakers chocolate stands out more on the 2018, as the 2019 flavours are still a little more vibrant and pronounced each on their own.
The fresher one definitely strikes me as more oily/sticky while the 2018 has a little drier thing going on.
These are both really tasty, but I think I actually like this fresher on the flavour, even if the aroma on the 2018 was preferable. Either one is still quite good, though.
Thank you for the timely review; I was wondering if I should check how mine turned out as the first time I had it (last March?) it was almost exactly as you describe above. I'll put a little note on it not to open until 2021 at the earliest. Very odd as Larry Bell generally knows what the heck he's doing.
Ya this was a weird one for me, really enjoyed it fresh and then it fell apart soooo quickly even though Bell's typically on point guidelines for consumption list it as unlimited shelf life. Be interested to see your thoughts after another year
I reckon that it is a wee bit past it's prime. Some astringent/sharpness to it. Still not close to being a drain pour. Bought off a shelf today.
2017 oak-aged World Wide Stout. Nose is really interesting. Lots of molasses, oak, leather, dark fruit, and marshmallow. The taste is insanely smooth. Lots of toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, oak, and a bit of nuttiness. Definitely some big roasted malts. This one has mellowed out a little bit since bottled, and it seems a bit sweeter to me. The crazy high ABV is really not detectable for me. Big thick mouthfeel.
I've had Abyss up to 8 years old that was still very good. I wonder if it was light-struck sitting on the shelf all that time; but I also haven't aged any vintages after 2013.
2018 North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
1/25/2018 12 ounce bottle. Large tan head over a dark brown body. Rich chocolate infused malty smell. Taste is much creamier and mellow with the hop bite lessened from fresh with complex dark fruit flavors making their presence known. Not boozy per se but you know you're drinking something with heft, the type of brew that Catherine the Great wanted transported large distances for her enjoyment on the long Russian nights.
Someone here said the sweet spot for this was two years. I still have three of these left and I suspect at least two of these will be consumed by the end of spring. This is very good.
Was this the BBA or WBA? I enjoy them both very much but find my palate enjoying the BBA more than the Rye Whiskey aged variety. Either way, thanks for the heads up on the expiration date, I’ll have to cycle mine.
Enjoying a 2014 edition of Mad River Brewing Company's John Barleycorn barley wine. Quite excellent indeed. Full review can be found here.
So I've got a vertical of Anchor Our Special Ale going back to like... 2005? Missing one or two years but for the most part. Anyway. I'm getting ready to move, and as such have been doing some organizing/packing. As a part of this the GF and I went through my 'celllar' to chart and organize. I commented on how I was surprised that I hadn't come across this years vintage yet, which surprised me since it's usually everywhere. Well, she took it upon herself and decided dammit, we were going to find it tonight. Calling around the city I think we literally found the last six pack in Seattle.
So of course after that we had to crack into one tonight when we got home. And naturally, I was going to pull one of them out of the cellar to compare. 2014 is the lucky year.
The current edition is creamy and sweet. I don't know if I am anywhere close to on base, but the impression I have is corn and melanoidin malts and some earthy german hops.
The 2014 has really transformed. Reading back at my 'new' review (which I drank at about a year), I got a lot of interesting spices and some berry sweetness. I described it as being, "somewhere between a fruitcake and a rumcake." with the flavour leaning towards the fruitcake, with doughy fruity spicy notes.
Now here some five years later it has leaned way into that rumcake. The doughy fruit character has all but faded into a silky smoothe body, and the flavour is overwhelmingly mild rum and Dr. Pepper. At least to me. One of the more interesting transformations I've experienced in this series of experiments, even if I liked it better fresh
Happened upon one of these a local hole-in-the-wall shop recently and picked it up. I was also blown away by how insanely smooth and delicious it was. I drank a bunch of these fresh and now it's drinking perhaps better than ever. Would love to find a couple more.
Curiosity question for those who have gone before-
When you do a vertical (I am fortunate to have KBS 2015 on up, will have a special "Stout Appreciation Night" next week with some friends), do you start with the fresh and go towards the old? Or the converse?
My inclination is to go with the new to old* but am open to reasons to go the other way.
*My palate has learned that, for me, KBS is harsh when fresh and mellows wonderfully after a year, but my palate is not yours and I see many prefer the fresh. So just looking for what works for those who have gone before. Not necessarily KBS, could be anything.
Anyway, thanks for any ideas or input, I'm learning!
I typically go new to old in order to see how older vintages change with age. If including a variant (ex: bourbon barrel aged) I read the room and open it at the same time of the corresponding year or separately at the end.
Thanks for the feedback, that's kind of my thought too. This will be my first so wanted to ask if there was something I was overlooking.
Follow up question though: You open variants along side? I find if we change (especially something like BBA) that it resets our palates (sp?) and the non-BBA stuff tastes less. Just less.
Now this is quite likely something we as rank amateurs find true, so I was wondering how you allowed for the swing in flavors and mouth feel. Maybe it's something we can learn as well.
A local watering hole had a Bell's Expedition Stout vertical of four years that I went newest to oldest. The fresh tasted great and I was wondering how it could be improved on but with each year going backwards the hops faded and the chocolate changed from slightly bitter to smoother and creamier, like dark chocolate to milk chocolate.
Interesting - thank you for your thoughts on this. I guess it really is down to your palate - I personally don't like an over hopped imperial stout and as hops are one of the things that fade over time I can see how hop tending palate tastes would like the newer over the older.
Thanks again, it really is helpful understanding some wildly differing reviews of some beers here.
If you’re analyzing each vertical and taking notes then you won’t want to open variants alongside each bottle for the reasons you mentioned. You’ll probably want one sip of each (like judging) and save the rest for the end. For me it’s about opening good beer with friends with light commentary. And if we have the variants we’ll open them.
With enough glassware, you could pour everyone’s sample for each vintage (including variants) and let the drinker decide their approach.
Or, someone could pour and keep track of all vintages, serve them and drinkers can guess which vintage is which.
Whichever way you choose, remember to have fun!
I'll definitely pile on the whole idea that the fun of a vertical is all in seeing how a beer changes with age so going fresh to older makes sense to me, but I also love blending beer so I am always into the plan of pouring all the beers at once and then tasting in any order and blending as the user sees fit
So continuing to attempt to shrink the cellar, there's going to be a lot of options from the 2013-2014 era, as that's when I first really started to get into the idea of aging beer.
Tonight I'm digging into a pair of Burton Baton I'd stashed away around this time, one bottle dated 06/08/12, the other from 03/04/14. I chose BB because I have a written review of a 'fresh' bottle already recorded so can refer back to see how my impression differs with the age. I don't expect ~8 years to be that different from ~6 years, but I imagine both will be pretty different from my impression fresh (which dates from 2012). This was one of the first 100 or so beers I ever reviewed on this site, and I was blown away. At the time I had it rated as the third best beer I'd ever reviewed (the top two at the time of writing for BB were 60 Minute and Pike XXXXX Stout, for reference... man that feels like a long time ago), though by the end of that year it would barely be in the top ten.
Initial impression is that the 'crystal clear amber' with good lacing that I experienced 8 years ago has muddled into a murky rust coloured liquid with a nice little cap of off white head that settles in but leaves no lacing. Mildly interesting, but it was between these two vintages that DFH went from having a paper label band upon the neck to no upper label, but having the DFH logo embossed directly in the glass of the bottle itself.
Instead of 'muted hops with a little bit of wood and sweet malts underneath' the two aged bottles start to diverge, and somewhat surprisingly to me. The 2014 is a little more muted than the 2012 featuring some light oak, a touch of leather and a high note that's kind of herbal kind of sweet. The 2012 however jumps deep into the rich caramel and tobacco, definitely some leather and a bit of milk chocolate.
Flavour of the 2012 is smoothe and has that same comfortable rich old ale-esque flavours of leather and tobacco and faint caramel, but again a cocoa/chocolate that I didn't expect at all. It's really good. The 2014 in contrast is just less... worn in and complementary. The edges are a little more jarring. More green, and more narrow. It's got the spice from the tobacco of the 2012, and the thinning element of the oak. It almost reminds me of the astringency that smoked malts can add to certain beers, though obviously not all the way into the smoked realm. 2014 is easily my least favourite of the three vintages, it turns out. It's not BAD per se, but fresh, and at 8 years it's incredible (albeit in different ways). I got a lot of big pine and resin of hops in the fresh version, but that's all gone here in the aged ones.
All around I was surprised at how different the 2012 and 2014 drank, and at the order of my preference. It's possible, given that my 'fresh' review was in 2012 that there was some annual variation that is at play here, but I have no evidence to support that other than preferring the 2012 aged, as well as the fresh bottle that I drank in 2012 (whatever year it was originally).
This overdue examination certainly upholds Sam Calagione's assertion on the label that Burton Baton 'ages with the best of 'em'.
That's the plan, having the best time we can while sampling (and discussing the tastes and opinions) and I do actually have sufficient glassware, so I will take up that idea - thanks!
And thanks for the feedback!