obxdude10 (2392) - Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 25, 2012
I purchased the 2008 Vintage of the Old Ale from the Phoenixville restaurant. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too thrilled with it. The beer poured a murky and cloudy brown color. The tan head only last for a moment, then faded away to just about nothing. There wasn’t any lacing around the glass, either. The nose was mostly sweet and bready malts. The flavors were also very malty and sweet, with an alcohol undertone. jtclockwork (17654) - , New Jersey, USA - SEP 15, 2011
Bottle. Pours dark brown. Tan head. Nose/taste of stone fruit, dark fruit, malt, nuts, caramel and dried nectarine. Medium body. anders37 (27658) - Malmö, SWEDEN - AUG 14, 2011
Bottle. Pours a dark amber color with a longlasting off-white head. Has a fruity malty caramel aroma with weak hints of dark fruit. Sweetish fruity malty caramel flavor with dark fruit hints. Has a fruity malty sweetish caramel finish. 50belair (3701) - Florida, USA - MAR 23, 2011
’09 bottle. What a kooky/funky nose. Definitely an old ale. Sour stone fruit, prunes, sweet caramel malt. brokensail (16689) - Dublin, California, USA - FEB 28, 2011
A: This beer pours amber, maybe copper, in color with a surprisingly large khaki colored head.
S: Toffee, molasses, and brown sugar on the nose, making up most of the bouquet. A pretty decent dark fruit character, with raisins and plums, and definitely a strong alcohol aroma. A bit of toasted bread is there as well. Not bad, but the aromas are all kind of "flat" and boring.
T: Sweet is mostly how the beer tastes. There is not a big emphasis on the heavy caramel flavors that I expect from an old ale. Some decent bread and brown sugar flavor, maybe some minimal fruit notes.
M: The body is medium with a medium carbonation.
D: This was a decent enough of beer, but sort of boring and one note. Not the rich and deep flavors I associate with an old ale.
alobar (3970) - Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 17, 2010
2008 bottle. Pours a clear straw yellow color with no head. Aroma caramel, honey with a matching flavor. Very malty. Excellent beer!!! wavers1 (916) - Notown, California, USA - MAY 18, 2010
08, courtesy of pittsburghkid, thanks! a nice solid old ale, the nose is a bit faint on it, but the taste and body are better. nice and smooth, this one went down really fast. iowaherkeye (2804) - Ocean Beach, San Diego, California, USA - MAY 16, 2010
750mL, Holiday Vintage 2008. Slightly hazy medium orange with a small yellowish creamy head. Sweet caramel. Sweet grainy nose with some white grape, some toast. Flavor is much the same, grapey and toasty and sweet grainy. Bitterness peaked at a 2-3 in the slightly alcoholic finish. Modewte carbonation with a full body. Not bad, but sweet. OldMrCrow (2446) - Seattle, Washington, USA - MAR 3, 2010
Tonight I opened a bottle that I’ve had sitting around for a while, a 2005 Iron Hill Old Ale. This was my first experience with this particular beer, and it lived up to its reputation. It’s a beautiful beer with a huge malt profile and lovely toffee flavors . The five years in the cellar have done well by this beer; the mouthfeel is still remarkably full for 7%, the flavors have integrated wonderfully, and the age has brought forward an admirable complexity with spot-on sherry-like oxidization.
BuckeyeBoy (8861) - Boise, Idaho, USA - JAN 2, 2010
But as I worked my way through the bottle, I started thinking about what this beer would have tasted like in 2005. It’s great now, but maybe it would have been even better then. Not because the beer is past its prime -- it’s not. It’s aged wonderfully. But rather because my standards, and more importantly the general standards of craft beer in America, have changed so dramatically over the past five years. In 2005 this must have been an exceptional old ale, with very few US beers coming close. Today, there are any number of craft breweries that -- perhaps with a little luck -- could put together a comparably well-rounded beer.
So it leaves one in a funny situation. Think back to some time around 2007. This beer was sitting in my cellar, still well shy of its peak. It was getting better with every subsequent month. But the best of the locally available craft breweries were also getting better, at an even faster rate. If this beer improved by 5 percent per year by virtue of age, their fresh offerings were improving my 10 percent per year by virtue of increased experience, effort, exposure, you name it.
It leaves me wondering about whether I did the right thing by aging this one. I’m not confronting the more common aged-beer regret, in which one lets a bottle get past its prime. I may have nailed the peak for this particular bottle, and you’d think that’s what I would be shooting for. But as much as I enjoyed the beer today, it’s a very good beer; back in 2007, it might have blown my mind. There’s a tension between letting a beer be all it can be, and drinking when it is the furthest ahead in the race.
So I’m left wondering: I could only get one bottle of this beer, so the cake-and-eat-it-to of both drinking fresh and aging was not a possibility. In an era during which craft beer is improving at the rate that we all enjoy, should we be even more reluctant to cellar for extended periods?
Big Bottle thanks to footbalm 2004 vintage. Pours out a cloudy brown topped with a nice white head. Aroma is a little past the prime I think. A little dust and light sweetness. Taste is a little nutty along with some sweet caramel and more of the dusty old.