In praise of vintage beers, and the beckoning of the West Coast

Beer never ceases to amaze me.

Just when you thought you’ve become wise in its ways, the beverage shows appeal from a whole new angle. Sure, I’d had some cellared beer before- a couple of Belgian ales my friend Bob pulled from storage in his basement- but at no point did I take the time to really pay attention to the possibilities offered by keeping your bottled stuff around for a few years. Thanks to Jules Suplicki and The Old Toad’s vintage beer dinner, I’ve learned that my education has only just begun.

it was the Aventinus that opened my eyes; a 2002 Schneider Weizenbock the flavor of which sprang beyond the expected earthy banana/clove notes, mellowing into toffee, raisin, and currant tones. It was unlike anything I’d tried with “Weizen” in the name, dancing perilously close to Trappist Ale territory, yet maintaining its own character and mouthfeel. Needless to say, it went perfectly with the apple galette (I guess that’s French for “sorbet”) with which it was served.

I’m going to explore vintage beer further, maybe even do the next column on it. If anyone has suggestions for what to cellar, I’d love to hear them.

By the way, we’ll be heading to Seattle this weekend to check up on the epicenter of American microbrewing. I’m currently collecting reommendations on what to try and where to go. The more stops I make, the better the travelogue, so if you know a beer or a brewery, let me know.

(editor’s note) I googled “galette.” It turns out the name refers to the crumbly cookie thing upon which my orb of mint-garnished apple sorbet rested. Delicious.


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