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"Vintages" of big beers - why?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by sacrelicio, Dec 26, 2012.

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  1. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    I've noticed that some big beers have different vintages and that each year, the ABV is different and the flavor changes somewhat. HOWEVER, the label doesn't specifically say that the recipe changes each year (like with some yearly releases).

    Some examples: Darkness, Dark Lord, Stone Old Guardian, Goose Island BCBS. BCBS has a different ABV each year, Darkness and Dark Lord taste very different year to year, and Stone Old Guardian has a separate listing on BA for each year.

    Whats the point of vintages for these beers? Do the recipes for these beers actually change every year, or is it just difficult to control the final ABV and flavor profile in such a big beer? Are huge beers with a large volume of malt and hops unpredictable?
  2. kraddel

    kraddel Jul 20, 2012 Belgium

    Maybe of the topic , but what is the best vintage in darkness ?
  3. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Any beer can be unpredictable. Grains vary from year to year depending on the harvest. Hops vary from year to year depending on the harvest. BCBS doesn't have a different ABV each year, they just upped it this year. Maybe some breweries are better at consitency then others. Maybe some brewers want a change in flavor profile to keep the products new and exciting. Maybe your pallate has changed over a years time and your tongue tastes it differently. There are probably as many answers as there are beers with year to year variations. Best to e-mail the respective brewers to find out if they have made recipe changes.
  4. Zach136

    Zach136 Jun 17, 2012 Georgia

    Not a problem I have... but it makes keeping track of your cellar a bit easier for verticles.
    larryi86 likes this.
  5. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I remember a brewer at Avery saying that their big, barrel aged beers are going to vary slightly year to year simply due to the complexity of the brew process with extreme beers & the barrel aging that follows.

    I think you answered your own question.
    SammyJaxxxx and bluejacket74 like this.
  6. CommanderOfAwesome

    CommanderOfAwesome Aug 30, 2012 California

  7. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Jul 4, 2005 Ohio

    I've noticed in “The Demons of Ale” series from Avery that each vintage I've tried has had a different ABV, at least from what I can remember anyway. That explanation sounds as good to me as any!
  8. kraddel

    kraddel Jul 20, 2012 Belgium

    Send me some dude , im dying to finaly try any vrrsion of the beer ! Hard to beat the 11 logo btw , so withoud tasting them , this is already my favourite !
  9. djaeon

    djaeon Oct 2, 2006 Wyoming

    The Old Guardian recipe does change from year to year. From the Stone website:
    "...We make small adjustments to the recipe every year, just a little bit...as it provides an opportunity to try some different hops or malts. .."
  10. 2beerdogs

    2beerdogs Jan 31, 2005 California
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Many brewers just want to try something different, and hopefully improve upon prior creations.
  11. MichaelinFishers

    MichaelinFishers Mar 10, 2009 Indiana

    I asked about the variation in Double Bastard on these forums once and Greg Koch himself answered. He said in that case, it was a matter of adapting to a new brewing system that increased their extract efficiency. The ABV of Double B was back down this year.
  12. tewaris

    tewaris Jul 14, 2009 Minnesota

    2007. Obviously.
    Duff27 likes this.
  13. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Dec 1, 2012

    I was wondering about DB as well, as the abvs moved up from 10.5 in 2011 to 11.2 in 2012. It's too bad they didn't take the extract efficiency into account and made adjustments accordingly, because IMO, 2011 was better.
  14. PittBeerGirl

    PittBeerGirl Feb 27, 2007 Ohio

    Try a vertical (3-5 years)of any popular cellarable brew. Even if the recipe is the same the vintages will taste really different. Very interesting to compare them.
    Beerandraiderfan likes this.
  15. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    It's impossible to use a vertical for comparison between years, to discern variations in the recipe, really. Beers change flavor profiles with age. A 5 year old beer does not taste like it did fresh, or when it did at 4 years old... All you can determine in a vertical is which beer tastes best to you at the moment you are drinking it. Take the same bottles and drink them a year earlier or a year later and you may have completely different preferences or takes on various years.
    RyanMM likes this.
  16. PittBeerGirl

    PittBeerGirl Feb 27, 2007 Ohio

    Exactly. So even if you brew the beer the same every time it will taste different with time on it than fresh.
  17. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    the whole point of the OP's post was variations in the beer recipe. Not differences in old beer vs not as old beer.
  18. BostonHops

    BostonHops Sep 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    Ah, so I guess this explains why each vintage gets a separate listing in the BA database, as opposed the rolling approach with most other beers that combines each year / batch.
  19. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Yes it is. And fun.

    You can compare anything. Muhammad Ali in his prime, was much better than anti-lock brakes.

    After equating a description of something being 'interesting to compare' to 'discern variations in the recipe of a vertical' . . . i dunno, it seems the 'whole point' was just that its fun to drink a vertical, not that its primary purpose is to reverse engineer the entire recipe. Your results may vary.
  20. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

    2007. Only 480 bottle were released, so it's essentially gone. But to those of us who have had it multiple times and/or in verticals, 2007 has never failed to outshine everything around it.

    I have enjoyed 2012 more than any year since, however. 2012 is really good.
  21. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Dec 1, 2012

    Cubbyswans is saying the OPs question is, are there variants between vintages. Not whether an aged beer tastes different then a new one. Which from what i read, is true.

    I think Pittbeergirl went of subject a little bit and that is what the argument is about.
    cubbyswans likes this.
  22. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

    That's cute. But then again, why do they do it with some beers and not others? There is nothing especially different between years of Trader Joe's Vintage or Anchor Christmas Ale. Why do they get separate listings? Because they have the year on the label? And while Darkness, with distinctively different artwork for each year (which is essentially the same thing), does not?

    At least Rodenbach has the "barrel number" gimmick for its vintage series...
  23. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

  25. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

    They may claim it, but the ones I have tried were quite similar to one another. It's not like Schell's Snowstorm, which is a different style each year.
  26. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Well that's not 'each year' is it It was 13% 2007, 08, 09, and 10. I missed '11 so I didn't know they upped it last year too.
  27. BostonHops

    BostonHops Sep 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    well i'm not sure about the cuteness factor but this makes the most sense to me. as to why some beers aren't afforded the same approach while others are, you'd have to ask the bros... i would imagine that since most beers are added by users, each beer would initially start out as a single entry and later brought to the bros' attention as a candidate for listing by vintage.

    edit: from the anchor website, "Each year since 1975, Anchor Brewing creates a distinctive Christmas Ale"... so it would appear that the recipe is altered year to year.
  28. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Innocent enough question/post --> debate --> light shitstorm -->blizzard of shit blowing in.
    averagejake872 and sacrelicio like this.
  29. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    yup, pretty much every thread posted
    fujindemon74 and FosterJM like this.
  30. FosterJM

    FosterJM Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I dont think you envisioned this did you? Ahh hell this is BA. Of course you did.

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