Category Archives: Strong Ale

Out of the Cellar: Conflux Series No. 1 Collage

Happy Family Day to my fellow British Columbians!

This time round I opened my May 2012 bottle of Conflux Series No. 1 (Collage), a collaboration between two Portland OR brewery mainstays, Deschutes and Hair of The Dog.  Described as a weaving of “The Dissident and The Stoic and Fred and Adam into an artistic collage of cask-aging alchemy” this 11.6% strong ale was a perfect candidate for cellaring.

Conflux No. 1

Conflux pours a slightly hazy copper colour with some off-white head that quickly dissipates to a thin skim and sticky lacing. There is good carbonation to this beer. Pretty liqoury on the nose with rich dense malt and dried red fruit. First few sips are viscous with lots of oaky character, sweet caramel and tart cherry flavour. As other reviewers have mentioned this beer, at this age, has a port like character. A really warming beer and the ABV has probably gone well beyond the 11.6% it started out with. There is a lot of complexity in this beer as it merges different styles, which works in its’ favour. As this beer opens up you get a slight funkiness and a bit of sour anchored in a medium bodied strong ale. The finish is slightly harsh with a burnt sweet taste.

Overall, I really like this collaboration. I think these beer work well together creating something to challenge complacent palates.

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Out of the Cellar: Dogfish Head Fort 2009

New Years Eve seemed like the perfect night to delve into the ol’ cellar for that oh so big beer you cannot figure out when exactly to drink.

In my cellar that beer is one of my oldest residents a 2009 bottling of Fort from Dogfish Head Brewery, a strong ale brewed with raspberries.

Fort

Fort pours a crystal clear rose gold colour with minimal white head that almost immediately turns to a thin lacing. All rotten raspberry on the nose, think overripe berries left in the sun not a bad smell just sweet with a touch of funk, and just a whiff of alcohol eluding to things to come. First sip is over the top liquor (in retrospect this one probably needs a bigger glass to breathe) with the vapours hitting you in the back of the throat before you swallow. After the initial shock this beer gives way to big fruit flavour, a slightly viscous mouthfeel and a warming finish. Fort is most definitely a sipper more in common with cordial than either beer or wine.

I have also had this beer sans aging and it still packed quite the punch even then. Do I regret aging my Fort? No, I think it adds character to this beer toning down the berry and bringing forward (and up) the alcohol content. Would I drink this on a regular basis? Hell no. Fort is special occasion only for me.


Out of the Cellar: Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Well I finally got around to actually taking a beer from my cellared stock and drinking it.

Granted, at face value, this does not really seem like it would take a lot of effort but for any fellow beer geeks that cellar you may empathize with my reluctance at opening a beer I have had in my care for years. I mean I went to all that effort of buying usually expensive, usually seasonal and usually scarce beers that in order to really get the best drinking experience needs to hang-out for months if not years. This means I would often go into my storage space look at the beer, maybe pick it up and re-read the label and then congratulate myself on the will power to not drink it right away.

This can lead to a bit of a vicious cycle when that nagging voice tells you, “just wait a little longer and it might get even better“.

Setting aside the obvious concern that I am either believing my beer is talking to me or that some tiny cicerone resides in my head, the hubby and I decided it was time to open our Dogfish Head World Wide Stout 2010, which we have fostered for some years now.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

From the brewery website:

Yes, this is the beer you’ve heard so much about!

Brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley, World Wide Stout is dark, roasty and complex. This Ageable Ale clocks in at 15-20% ABV and has a depth more in line with a fine port than with a can of cheap, mass-marketed beer.

World Wide debuted in the winter of 1999, and the staying power of this brew is undeniable. Like Fort and 120 Minute IPA, World Wide Stout only gets better with age. After some time in your beer cellar, the heat of the booze fades into the background and the port notes and roastiness take over.

World Wide goes great with (or as!) dessert. Share one with someone you love.

 

World Wide Stout pours deep dark black with a minimal amount of mocha coloured head, just a skim really. Huge molasses, coffee, chocolate and dried fruit nose with a big whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense in the mouth feel, full bodied, with slight carbonation and very warming though I have to say the cellaring really took away any harsh edges from the ridiculously high ABV. Flavours are pretty much everything you want in a big stout roasted grains, chocolate sweetness, strong notes of dried fruit and molasses and a coffee presence. This stout finishes strong with a nice roasted bitter taste. World Wide Stout is most definitely one to savour over an evening or to share with a friend (as the Dogfish people suggest).

Overall one of the best stouts on the market and a perfect candidate for long-term cellaring so if you haven’t started aging craft beer yet what the heck are you waiting for?


Get Out of my Cellar and into my Glass

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Anyone who has taken a look at my ‘What’s in the Fridge’ page will know that I have been aging beer pretty much since I began drinking craft beer. You also may have noticed that in previous posts I have commented on my reluctance to crack open bottles from this collection since the aged beers seem too special to drink on just any old occasion and really, if I have waited this long perhaps I should wait just a little bit longer (they might taste just a little bit better).

 

But lately I feel like the time has come to start enjoying some of my well-cared for stash and as such I am going to start a series of posts where I review aged beers and discuss the changes that have taken place, especially for those beers that I have tried when they were just young ‘uns.

 

Cellared Beers

 

Just a quick recap for those who have not read my post Maturing Beer, unlike mass market beer many styles of craft beer are brewed with the intention that they will be stored for some time before consumption. Strong beer with high ABV’s, Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines, Belgian Quads, Barrel-aged Porters, and basically any other robust style of beer can benefit from some time in the cellar. Breweries like Deschutes are even taking the initiative by posting best-after dates on their bottles. Basically the stronger your beer the longer you can age it. Also, if you are a really big beer nerd you can cellar different years of the same beer and hold a vertical tasting and actually taste the changes that are occurring.

 

Currently in my cellar (which is really my cupboard) I have:

Brooklyn Monster Ale 2007

Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Black Ops

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller

Driftwood Old Barrel Dweller

Driftwood Singularity 2011, 2012

Dogfish Head Forte

Deschutes Black Butte

Deschutes Collage Conflux

Deschutes The Abyss 2009, 2012

Deschutes Dissident

Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws

Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine

VIB Hermannator Ice Bock

VIB Hermannator Ice Bock 25th Anniversary


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