I'm sorry, but I think we're just friends now. I might be open to a relationship in a few months. Will that work?
Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
How important is aging? I’m not asking this in an NBC special sort of way or in an attention-grabbing headline in the style of the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report. Rather, I’m asking this when it comes to beer.
I understand that brewers these days are making more and more brews that are meant to be preserved and held onto for as little as a few months and for as long as a few decades. I get this. The beer changes over time. Different flavors appear as fermentation continues. But with the proliferation of so many of these beers on the market, I’m having a hard time choosing which ones I want to open immediately like Christmas presents and which ones I need to put away in my tiny closet and attempt to not drink for the next few months. Should these beers that can be aged for quite some time actually be aged, or should they be drinkable right out of the bottle? Or should they be real firecrackers right on the day or bottling, only to become truly perfect gems after sitting in your beer cellar (*cough closet cough) for a number of years?
I only bring this up because of how much I actually enjoy the Founders Nemesis 2010 edition, a black IPA/barleywine hybrid. It’s a special beer that is released only once. Founders even notes that this can be a rather experimental beer. And I’m quite OK with all of this. I only have to think how much better this beer could be if it sat around for a few years. Then what would we have?
Part of the reason I have trouble with hanging onto beer is not only the space issue, but the temperature issue. I know you’re supposed to keep them at cooler temps at all times, but I can’t say I have a big enough fridge or a dedicated beer fridge yet in my apartment to make this happen. I don’t even know if having them stored at 70 degrees makes that much of a difference, but I feel like if I keep a beer around for so long, I should keep it in ideal conditions.
The other reason I have trouble with holding onto beers is, well… most of the special bottles I pick up look awfully fucking delicious. Black IPA and barleywine? This is why I couldn’t hang onto Nemesis 2010 for more than a few days. The color on it was as magnificent as any of my other Founders lovers, a dark and very rich brown with a gorgeous chocolate-cream head just barely sitting on top of the snifter when it was swirled around. The smell was thick with molasses and a rather boozy, almost bourbon-like, scent. The beer looked quite syrupy, more so than expected, and the first taste confirmed that immediately. A heavy and thick curtain of really dry and earthy malt kicks in immediately with just the slightest background of a barleywine’s sweetness. The malt really hangs on the tongue for generations, and adds a bit of smokiness that mixes with a hop tickle near the absolute end. I really waited for the barleywine’s scene, but somewhere along the editing process, it hit the cutting room floor. I had a hard time finding any real sweetness or a blast of alcohol (especially considering the 12% ABV), and even the high IBU level left me a little disappointed. The warmer it got, the less sweet it became. Not exactly a knock-out punch.
What I’m trying to get at is this is a very good black IPA. The flavors here are thicker and richer than many others I’ve had. But I’m missing the barleywine crunch. I would assume that if this bad boy hung out for quite a few more months or years, this would develop into a deep and succulent beer with more layers than an onion. As is, drink it for the great black IPA qualities, but save it for the feast of flavors that will surely come later.