I’ve gone and done something stupid again.. I didn’t mean to.. As so many other things, it just kinda happened. See, I went down to my go-to wine guy to stock up on a bit of quality wine after going through a rather large part of my stash on the Brussels trip. As always when I’m down there, I spent some time just casually browsing through the store, looking at the selection.. And as always, that turned out to be a really bad idea.. Other than the wine that I needed, and the bottle of orgeat syrup I just happened to stumble upon, I ran into some vintage Thomas Hardy Ales that really peaked my interest. The concept of vintage and aged beers wasn’t entirely new to me. I’d seen bottles in Belgium, too, and heard of the process.. But unlike the Chimay bottles I passed on in Belgium (stupid as I am), I wasn’t able to pass these up…
Which spawned somewhat of a downward spiral that, long story short, culminated in me starting my own beer cellar.. A WHAT cellar, you may ask.. But it’s quite simple, really, see.. Like good wine, good beer too can be aged. We’re not talking your usual lagers here, of course, which are generally a hell of a lot better the fresher they are. No, we’re talking quality brews here, many of them high on alcohol, hops or other preservatives (such as smoke, believe it or not), and many of them so-called bottle fermented beers, meaning that yeast is added when bottling the beers, causing a new fermentation to take place in the bottle over time which may radically change the nature of the beer.
The general idea of these beers are that given the right conditions (mainly a cool, dark place) they’ll continue to change over time, developing new flavors and characteristics for years to come.. Which to me sounds like fun! And has been something I’ve always wanted to play with.. Only, I haven’t ever been very good at no diving into the supply of beers I’ve had at hand.. So, what changed? Well, mainly the fact that I’m already collecting not only single malts and rums, but also other quality spirits and wines.. So did I really need a new area of collectibles? Well, of course.. Why not add quality beers to the mix?!
Also, following an agreement with my house owner, Brian, I’ve stashed the beers in a really remote, cool, dark part of our shared basement.. It literally has a cellar feel to it.. (And was offered to me in the spirit of “hey, anything for a good cause”) and is so relatively inaccessible that I’ll have to really want a beer in order to venture there – at which point I may as well just go to the fridge.. Where I keep the less expensive lager options.
So, to sum up.. I’ve got another real expensive hobby to keep me company.. Beer collecting and beer cellaring. Why? Well, I’ve enjoyed tasting quality brews for a while now and the concept that a specific brew can change character over time.. Well, it seems fun and interesting to me.. So why the hell not? Apparently I really enjoy collecting good and/or rare/obscure alcoholic beverages for various purposes!
But what all goes into a cellar, then? Well, not too much right now.. Did I mention it’s a somewhat expensive hobby? So far there’s a few high alcohol by volume beers from a sampler pack I got in Belgium. Other than that, I’ve picked up quite a few bottles of various brews, some with age on them already and the more notable including:
- Thomas Hardy Ale 2005 (four years old already, is supposed to improve for at least 25+)
- Horn Dog Barley Wine 2007 (interesting name, right? Supposedly really good around now)
- Chimay Bleue 2008
- Trappiste Rochefort 8 (9.2% – a really good beer as it is)
- Trappiste Rochefort 10 (11.3% – a cruel mistress, but also one of my favorite brews of all time)
- Orval (a trappist beer Tina and I tried in Brussels but weren’t too impressed with, I hear it balances out and gains a lot with time, though)
I got at least a few of each – heck, I got four of the Chimays on sale because our local supermarket is retarded and apparently doesn’t know that there’s a substantial difference between a 2008 Chimay and its 2009 counterpart.. And so the basic idea is to sample them over the course of time time and see what happens.. Hey, sounds fun to me.. And also like another really expensive hobby.. But then, I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to, so why not drink better stuff when I do..? Right..? Sounds reasonable enough to me 😉