Aging Beers #11: Boulder 35th Anniversary Ale Imperial IPA. At Four Years From our “Vault”
Date: February 11, 2018
The Story— The first thing you learn about cellaring beers is to drink the hoppy ones quick. Later you learn that like most maxims about beer and brewing, that’s sometimes good advice and sometimes terrible advice. We’ve mentioned here that we knew people who would snap up a recent release of our Hop Pocket Ale…and then stick the case in the basement for several months to let the hops recede. We preferred it fresh, but well understood the appeal of the slightly more subdued version.
One of the best beers we ever had from Boulder was its 35th Anniversary Imperial IPA. When we tasted it in 2014, it blew us away, and if I had known we had another bottle of it, it wouldn’t have been in a box of discovery we found in January of this year. It always had a serious component of cocoa, but fresh it also showed some herbal hops. The balance was superb.
The Beer— Who knew you could subtract those evident hops and have a beer that was different, but as good four years later?. Chocolate and herbs waltz with cocoa and the chocolate seems to grow richer as the cocoa holds. A deep rich fudge emerges from real, rather than extract, chocolates and chocolate malts. A bit of bourbon shows more clearly now, but it still rides well under the chocolates. A hint of cherries as it drinks may be just echoes of the chocolate and wood. Ellie found more heat in the whiskey and thought a bit of the wood showed some tartness, but for her the sugars smoothed it out nicely. As it rests and warms, the booze does grow, but it also shows a range of fruits while the rich chocolate holds its own. Good fresh; just as good and maybe more interesting aged.
Value — Very good. The 22 ounce bottle sold for about ten bucks in 2014. I wish I had bought a case.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
In February, we’re digging into our legendary “vault” where we’ve been storing hundreds of bottles of beer waiting for the right time to taste them (or sell them for charity). The charity market has slowed, so we’re working through them in front of a fire and finding some disappointments, but more very surprising delights. You can find the full list –eventually– here on this “index post.”
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”