It’s New Years Eve and I thought I’d crack open a few beers. After starting the night with a couple IPAs, I thought I’d dig into the beer fridge and see what I could find. I had a craving for something a little malty, and I’ve been sitting on this beer for over a decade now. When I was an intern at Full Sail Brewing in 2010, I helped John Harris brew this beer. They also had the first batch of this beer on hand for us to drink during John’s birthday celebration during the Oregon Brewers Festival, and I was able to bring a bottle of it back with me to Illinois.
Location: Poured into a snifter style pint glass at my home in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 7% ABV, ~260 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s a dark brick red-brown color and it was very clear when I held it up to the light. It had a cream-colored head with fine bubbles that faded quickly to just a ring around the glass after a minute or two. It has a sweet, malty aroma with hints of Belgian yeast.
Taste & Feel: The body is medium and the mouthfeel is crisp from the carbonation in the beer. The flavor up front is somewhat dry with a light malty flavor with some raisin-like flavors underneath it. In the middle, the malty sweetness is slightly overtaken by an earthy-malty bitterness. The maltiness opens up again in the fairly dry finish with the bitterness right behind it. The aftertaste is a mix of the malty flavors and earthy bitterness.
Food Pairing: I was actually having some caramel corn when I had this and I don’t think there could be a more perfect pairing for this beer. Since the sweetness had fermented out and the beer was somewhat dry, the caramel corn added in some of the sweetness that complemented the malty flavors perfectly.
Overall Impression: I wasn’t sure what to expect after sitting in the bottle for more than a decade, but it aged nicely. It was obvious that it had continued to age and ferment in the bottle, and it seemed like the residual sugars had fermented out, leaving a malty, but fairly dry beer. I liked the malty flavors and aroma, but it didn’t come with the sweetness that I usually expect from such a malty beer. Although it was still a good beer, I think it was better when there was still some sweetness left in it. While it was dryer and more fermented out than I remember, it was a great opportunity to reflect on my experience at Full Sail during the summer of 2010 and think about the new year ahead.