aged beer

Black Nelson revisited


Regular readers will know that I’m not a fan of ageing beers, Well, not consciously, that is. If I end up ageing a beer it’s usually due to the simple fact that I haven’t gotten around to drink it yet. Seeing as how. like most beer geeks, I laugh at the concept of only buying as much beer I need.

It’s not about need. It’s about want. Anyway…..I have made an exception to the ageing aversion and have consciously put some beer aside. My own. About nine months ago I decided to hang onto a bottle of each batch of homebrew and drink it precisely a year later to see what it was like.

As it happened, when I made that decision, I had a few leftovers from previous batches. One of them was a beer I bottled on Sunday, August 18. Called Black Nelson, it was my attempt at a black IPA (to hell with that “Cascadian Dark Ale” rubbish). As you may be able to see from the recipe at right, it was made while I was still a full extract brewer.

I was after a beer that was black in colour but didn’t have any roasty, chocolatey flavours we associate with dark beer. I wanted it to look like a dark beer, but taste like an IPA. The Nelson part of the name came from the Nelson Sauvin hops I used.

I can remember being rather impressed with my efforts at the time, especially the success I had with getting a dark beer without the dark beer flavours (through the use of a can of Old). As for specifics about the taste, well, it was a year ago. Unless it goddamn rocked my world I reckon I’d be unlikely to have a mental picture of the beer with which to make a comparison when I tasted it last week.

So lets just go with my impressions from last week. I was actually surprised that this didn’t taste utterly awful. I figured my homebrew would be lucky to have a shelf life of six months let alone a year, but the bottle was still carbonated and poured a nice thick head.  There were some light, but distinct fruity notes – and some grassy ones too. Not much fruit in the flavour though – at least that part of my expectations was accurate (I’d expected any hop flavour to have faded away after 12 months). But the bitterness was still there – in fact I reckon it was a bit more bitter than a year ago.

I figured it was still drinkable, but that might have just been me invoking brewer’s sympathy – that attitude that sees you give your own beers a few extra marks simply because you made them.

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