I was in a unique situation recently; I’d saved a special bottle of beer and was looking forward to opening it–and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.
I was somewhat less aware of every ‘big’ beer or brand in 2010. There were a lot less of them of course, but there were still a ton, and unless you’re making an extraordinary effort, well, some slip your awareness.
Stone Brewery, like many people, noticed that the new millenium lent itself to dates like 1/1/1 , 2/2/2, etc. They started a series called Vertical Epic 2.2.2 that released on that date in 2002, nominally designed to age until 12.12.12. The craft beer movement, and Stone itself, was pretty tiny at the time, so the batch was pretty small, but each year everything got bigger.
I didn’t become aware of the series on the east coast until roughly two weeks after 10.10.10, which just so happens to be my wedding date. I don’t need to tell you that I bought a few bottles of a beer with a unique name and date released on the day of my wedding. This one was meant to age until 12.12.12, the culmination of the series. Taking advantage of the coincidental timing with the wine grape harvest, this beer is a Belgian Strong Ale with fresh Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
The next question would typically be, “How did it taste?”, but that’s a tricky question. How did it taste in 2010? I honestly don’t recall. On 12.12.12 when me and my wife went to a Stone event in NYC? It was pretty good then, though mostly overpowered by some of the stronger, and older, beers in that lineup. I remember thinking it was very wine-y but still with malt, hops and yeast characters that defined it as a beer. That was a great event, Alewife had all but the very limited 02.02.02 on tap and we got a sample of all of them.
How did it taste on 2.10.19, exactly 100 months from 10.10.10? Less good. Perhaps even bad. It was basically flat, and tasted a lot like old white grape juice. The wine notes were prominent, with maybe even more sweetness from the malt with no bitterness. I drank a few ounces of it, but that was enough. Even nostalgia didn’t get me to finish it. Neither did my wife, nor either of my parents who tried it.
I’ve written about accidentally aging beers before, and while I’d like to tell you I intentionally saved this one for the mathematically appropriate 100 months, it’s not true. I purchased three bottles–We had the first at Christmas time in 2012, tried the other one 2 years later when I noted ‘Not as good as two years ago’, and the third got packed away during a move and forgotten about until recently.
Your beers are probably at their best _right now_ so go drink them!
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