Photo: Bernt Rostad, Flickr
For the foreseeable future (well, until Wednesday, at least), my liquid diet will be limited to coffee and water. Beer? That can wait. And that's a very good thing.
Like wine, beers can age, evolve and develop complex new aromas and flavors. Time can smooth a beer's rough edges, melding and mellowing flavors. While not every beer is suitable for aging (lagers, pilsners and hop-forward brews are best fresh), burlier beers such as Belgian strong ales, imperial stouts, old ales, and barleywines can stand the test of time.
One of the country's top proponents of aging beers is Alan Sprints, the founder of Portland's Hair of the Dog Brewing. "All of our bottle-conditioned beers are meant to age," told me for my Imbibe article on cellaring beer. Thus, when I was in town, I beelined to the brewery to give his brews a spin.
I found Doggie Claws to be a decadently hopped barleywine, while the Matt American Strong Ale (Sprints has a penchant for giving his brews people names) is a monstrously powerful, yet surprisingly smooth strong ale aged in bourbon and eau de vie barrels.
Still, I had a soft spot for Adam, a re-creation of a classic beer style from Dortmund, Germany. Adam pours as dark as Darth Vader's helmet and drinks as rich as a Rockefeller. There's a pinch of peat smoke on the nose, and sweetly nuanced flavors of molasses, dark fruit and chocolate. Plus, the 10 percent ABV provides a belly-heating warmth that'll help you endure these cold, icy days of winter.
Or next winter. Or the winter after that.
Had any strong brews that you'd like to toss in the cellar? Spill it in the comments.