I had to dive far to the back of my beer cellar for tonight's indulgence.
I enjoy taking really hoppy, really strong IPAs and beers of such, aging them for a good amount of time and exploring what happens to them. The last one I tried was a one year old Halcyon. I thought what had happened was really interesting. The hops had almost disappeared and what was left was almost a Vintage Ale. None of the bitterness, it was sweeter, more mellow, something completely different to what is was originally - and just after one year.
Tonight's aged beer comes from Flying Dog Brewery. This bottle of Double Dog, a 11.5% Double IPA, is pushing three years old now, and I'm rather exited to see what's happened to it. Looking back at my very old tasting notes I stated of a fresh bottle; It's outrageously bitter and has a massive alcohol punch which makes it's presence felt!
It looks very promising with a carbonation respectable of a fresh sample. The aroma smells delicious. It's all about the caramel, the nuts, the malty, sticky pine resin (some peanut butter?). It sort of smells a bit like someone's mixed a few drops of Thomas Hardy's Ale into a strong American IPA.
Wow! I don't really know what to make of this one. It has much of the flavours of a fresh bottle, but at the same time you can still tell that this is an old bottle. Strange. The uber bitterness is still there, and the obvious booze is still just as ravenous as before, but this holds things together in a play named 'lessons in extreme beer'. I can imagine this beer would probably stay the same for another couple of years or so, it's got a good bottle conditioning on it. Sticky sweet, and also boozy bitter, it sort of doesn't want to work, but it does. The finish is quite vegetal, and whilst it's quite drying, there's still lots of toffee and caramel sweetness swimming about. It's a very tasty beer, I'll take my time and enjoy this big dawg!
I'm not a fan of the beers that claim "drink this as fresh as possible"... who knows when that is, or when it will go bad. I don't see much point in making beers which need to be 'consumed within two weeks' of production. Unless you live next to a brewery, it's bad business practice - you'll get a lot of returns. It goes back to the White Shield argument. W.S. is a fantastic IPA which says it will get better as it ages on the bottle, I wish more IPAs said that. Asked for Double Dog... the test of time has done nothing wrong to this beer.