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Thứ Sáu, 1 tháng 8, 2014

Cellaring Beer

Cellaring Beer



Recently I was privileged to be invited to a very special tasting at local beer bar Hashigo Zake. Hashigo Zake owner Dominic Kelly assembled a fantastic assortment of vintage beers from several private cellars for the event. Included were some beers that are no longer produced, beers which are no longer imported into New Zealand, some well aged readily available classics and a beer or two brewed by myself in my home brewery.
The tasting was a fantastic experience and highlighted some of the things that should be considered when selecting beers for a beer cellar.

Why cellar beer?

While the maxim that “fresh is best” holds true for most beer there are certain styles of beer which will gain in complexity and mellow in character as they age. Cellaring the ‘right’ beer can be incredibly satisfying, and providing you cellar a good number of bottles you can open them at regular intervals and track the changes occurring inside the bottle.
It’s also fantastic having special precious beers in the cellar which can be brought out and shared as a celebration on special occasions.

What to look for when selecting beers to cellar
There are a few rules which tend to hold true when aging beer in the cellar. Treat these rules as guidelines rather than absolutes as there are always exceptions to any rule and personal taste will always come into the equation.

- Big is best. The more robust and high in alcohol a style is the better it will age. As beers cellar they tend to thin out and become dryer and leaner. A big beer will have more body to spare than a small one.

- Cellar living beer. Bottle conditioned beer will age more gracefully than filtered, bright or pasteurized beer. The live yeast in the bottle not only consumes the oxygen that invariably finds its way in but also slowly consumes the malt sugars in the beer changing the flavour and body of the beer as it does so.

- Cellar malt accented beers rather than hoppy ones. Hop character tends to be one of the first things to recede and drop out of a beer as it ages, often changing the intended balance of the beer. Vibrant hop characters are moments in time that need to be enjoyed while they are fresh, volatile late hop characters can sometimes produce cheesy harsh flavours as they age. Malt profiles on the other hand often mellow and round out as they age becoming smoother, rounder and more subtle.

- Perhaps most importantly cellar beers that you like! There is no point in aging beers you aren’t fond of!
The Beers
Below are the results of the Hashigo Zake Tasting. On the whole the results conform to the rules above. The hop accented beers such as the Brugse Tripel and the Chimay White did not age graciously, while the magnificently malty Limburg Oude Reserve tasted even more fantastic than it did the last time I tried it 6 months ago.

1- Coopers Vintage 2002 – Slight sherry cask whiskey notes on the nose, dry and thin bodied.

2- Coopers Vintage 2006- Sweet malt and a touch of oxidized sherry on the nose, sweet but uncomplicated in the mouth.

3- Emersons Whiskey Porter 2002- complex nose of caramel, chocolate, oak and warmth. In the mouth the beer is mellow and smooth.

4- Limburg Weizenbock 1999- A hint of banana, big caramel malt, in the mouth the beer is rich , full bodied and surprisingly big and bold.

5- Traquair House Ale 1998- Unique spicy fruit notes, stonefruit and caramel malt feature in the nose. In the mouth the beer is rich and rounded with a slightly short finish.

6- Lost Abby Judgment Day 2009- Subdued warm slightly spicy nose, in the mouth the beer is rich with raisin notes and a warming finish.

7- O-Street Brewing Merchant of the Devil Imperial Stout 2008- A complex aromatic cocktail of rich warm red fruit, plums, prunes, chocolate, spicy hops, and roasty notes. In the mouth the beer is seriously full bodied, with a big roast grain character, rich malt and a full roasty bitter finish.

8- Victory Storm King Imperial Stout 2009- Roast malt and zesty American hops feature in the aroma, in the mouth the beer is slightly thin in body compared to the beer before (most beers would be!) with a good dose of American hop flavour and dry finish.

9- Unibroue Maudite – A complex spicy Belgian aroma leads in a rounded rich malt accented palate.

10- Brugse Tripel early 2000’s – A candied sweet aroma leads into a dulled sweet limp body.

11- Chimay White 2002- Hint of funky musty cellar character on the nose, leads into a dry and slightly austere palate.

12- Chimay Blue 2002- Sweet malt accented aromas with a touch of the warm Belgian funk. In the mouth the beer is sweet and malt accented but ultimately a bit subdued.



Blue Chimay Beer


13- Chimay Blue 2000- A big musty cellar character on the nose complex notes of mushroom, deep red fruit and port wine notes. In the mouth the beer is warming and fruity.

14- Traquair Old Jacobite 1998- a spicy earthy earl gray tea character on the nose with some coriander notes. In the mouth the beer is mellow, malty and satisfying.

15- O-Street Brewing Alfred’s Audit Ale 2009- Big aromas of orange fruit, rose petals, rich malt and warm alcohol. In the mouth the beer is incredibly full bodied and syrupy with more orange fruit, rich malt and a firm bitter finish. One that’s got a lot of aging potential.

16- Limburg Oude Reserve 2004- Complex orange fruit, and warm rounded slightly toasty malt feature on the nose. In the mouth the beer is full rich and incredibly complex and subtle at the same time. Outstanding.

17- Ohanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2008 – Big bold and young. Big rich malt, assertive orange hops and warm fruity esters feature in the nose. In the mouth the beer is rich sweet and hoppy.

18- Ohanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2006- Toasty, meaty and rich in the aroma. Oxo cube notes, rich sweet malt and bitter hops.

19- Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy’s Ale 1999- Clean sweet aromas with a touch of orange fruit. In the mouth the beer is extremely clean and sweet wi 

Thanks So Much !

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