Last night found me with a serious thirst for barleywine. And unfortunately, the closest bottle shop that actually has barleywine in amounts less than a case is 25 minutes away. Not feeling like stepping out and dropping an hour to get a six-pack, I broke into my vintage collection.
Amongst all my gadgets, gear, and ingredients on the shelf in my basement brew room lies a box with a little more than a six-pack's worth of beers I've squirreled away over the past few years. A 2001 bottle of Samiclaus, some Victory Storm King '03, and some Anchor Christmas ale '05 to name a few. The two that made it out were a bottle of barleywine made in 2003 from a fellow FOAM guy for the 2003 FOAM Iron Mash competition, and a wax-sealed one-liter bottle of DuClaw Devil's Milk '06.
First out was the Iron Mash barleywine. I chucked it in the freezer to drop the temperature quickly...unfortunately, in between chasing children and cleaning, it got left in the freezer just a little too long! Luckily I caught it in time and only the top inch or so started to freeze. It still poured into a snifter well, the head being mostly a barleywine slushy. And I'm a huge fan of 7-11 Coke Slurpees, so it was a welcome suprise. It didn't affect the flavor or beer at all and soon warmed by my hand's grip on the glass. The beer was well-done, no oxidation, begging for just a little more hop bite...but what can you expect from a 5 year-old barleywine?
Tonight I'll break out the 2006 Devil's Milk and after tomorrow's Easter dinner, little if any will be left. Do I really want to bottom-up a two year-old bottle of some of the best barleywine I've had, leaving no barleywine left?
You bet your ass I do! Nothing lasts forever and nothing tops off a holiday with family like a good glass of beer. Besides, it makes more room for barleywine to cellar for a few more years.
Wherever you are, Hoppy Easter!