Cellar Report

We've been hosting a holiday party for a number of years, and three or four ago, I started busting out some gems from the cellar. As my cellar gets fuller over the years, the annual roll-out gets more and more extravagant. Yesterday, boosted by some of the beers I brought back from Europe, we had quite the blowout. Below are some comments on a selection of the bounty.

Westvleteren Blonde, 2011. I was not much impressed by the famous 12 at the brewery, But the blond was a treat. It was even better out of the bottle. A light, spritzy beer with a notable saison yeast character. I have no idea why this beer isn't the legendary one.

Fuller's Vintage Ale, 2000. John Keeling, the master brewer at Fuller's, pulled this out of his own cellar when we visited--and it was definitely the highlight of the night. Eleven years is pretty long for an 8.5% beer, but Keeling designed this for the long haul. (Amazingly, it's still available for just eight pounds--the best deal in brewing.) There is, predictably, lots of dark fruit and smooth, caramel notes. The immediate impression is port, though. The taste of age, chemical changes and very slight oxidation, is on perfect display here. It is a crucible for cellaring beer: if you don't like this beer, cellaring is not for you. Our crowd greeted it with astonishment and delight.

Upright Billy the Mountain, 2010. I didn't get a lot of this one--just enough to take note. Alex has changed the process for this beer, but he might want to reconsider. After a year, the brettanomyces have added a lovely tart snap to an otherwise hearty, sweet, English-style ale. they've thinned the beer a bit, but it's still rich and still has a fair amount of sweet, candyish malt. If you have a bottle, consider drinking it now--it's really nice.

Block 15 Ferme De La' Ville Provision, 2011. I love this beer and wanted folks to try it while it was still fresh and bright. In my view, one of the best saison made, and the very vest made with wild yeast.

Deschutes Dissident, 2009. I bought a case of this, and I wish I'd drunk it quicker. It's just on the edge of passing too far. Already, the Brett has eaten a hole in the center of the palate--and it seems almost to pull moisture out of the cells of your mouth by osmosis, so dry has it become. Still quite a tipple, but I remember what it was like last year.

Fuller's Past Masters Stout, 2011. Another real joy, this stout was made from an 1893 recipe and ingredients as authentic as the brewery could procure. It is a roasty, meaty stout, but one broadly similar to current recipes. No brett, but otherwise a trip to Victorian England.

Widmer KGB Stout, 2010. Speaking of roasty, I was amazed to find this beer had changed very little in a year's time. I think it could easily go another five years.

Full Sail Doppelbock, 2008. Just a hair past its prime, with a stewing that goes a bit flaccid in the middle.

Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws, 2008. I had only a mouthful of this--enough to confirm it remains in perfect, tasty form.

There were several more, but those are some of the more interesting highlights.
Jeff Alworthcellar7 Comments