Thank God it’s Friday. It’s been a very rough week at work, and this weekend is my daughter’s birthday. So, tomorrow we’re having a bunch of kids at a party at Chuck E Cheese, and then a family party tomorrow night. When cleaning out the beer fridge a couple weeks ago, I uncovered this beer from my “Cuisinternship” at Full Sail Brewing a couple years ago. At the time, John Harris (who’s now started his own brewery, Ecliptic Brewing) took me to the brewmaster’s reserve fridge hidden near their former location in Portland, and gave me several aged beers. He warned me that this one may not be any good any more, but gave it to me anyway. The label says it was brewed on 8/25/98 and ottled on 020299. So it’s almost exactly 15 years old.
Location: Poured into a small St. Bernardus snifter glass at my home in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 6.2% ABV, 26 IBUs, ~170 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s a dark brick red color, and it’s extremely clear (although there was a good amount of yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle). The head was initially a lot of big bubbles that fell very quickly, leaving nothing at the top. It has a sweet caramel and dark cherry-like malty aroma with a good amount of box-like oxidation smells.
Taste & Feel: The body is medium to full and the mouthfeel is smooth. The flavor up front is sweet with some dark cherry flavors. The dark cherry flavors become a bit richer in the middle and are joined by some caramel maltiness. The finish is a flavorful mix of boozy oxidation with caramel and dark cherry in the background. All of these flavors last for a minute or two in the aftertaste.
Food Pairing: This beer has interesting flavors, and would pair best with something hearty, like a steak. The dark cherry and caramel flavors would mix nicely, and the steak would help cut back on the oxidation.
Overall Impression: Having been aged over 15 years in the bottle, it was hard to guess what this beer would be like. I really enjoyed the caramel and dark cherry-like flavors, but that enjoyment was balanced by a fair amount of oxidation. The cardboard-box like oxidation flavors were heavy in the nose and finish, taking away from the aged doppelbock flavors a bit. Overall, a beer this small (6.2% ABV) was never meant to be aged this long, but despite that, the flavors were pretty good. Oxidation was expected, so I just tried to look past that and enjoy the flavors I could pick out.