Sunday, August 10, 2008

1988 J.W. Lees at twenty years.

How old is too old for a beer, well it depends! Last night I opened up a bottle of 1988 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, to share with my good friend Kurt. That's right it's 20 years old! I wasn't even a fan of great beer back in 1988, I was just 22 years old.

A beer like JW Lees is much stronger than most average beer, weighing in at 11.5%. To age a beer for 20 years and have any hope that it's going to be decent you need to find a nice cool place to store the beer, with no direct sun light. My beer celar makes such a perfect location. This beer has been in my possession for at least 10 years, possibly longer! I don't keep track of when I add beers to my beer cellar, hmm... maybe I should.

So enough about that, let me tell you about the beer. I used cognac glasses to serve the beer, at cellar temperature. As this is a beer to be savored!

Aroma... wow complex stone fruit, malt, caramel, brandy like notes, a hint of tobacco, very clean and complex. No noticeable oxidation, really something to just savor.

No carbonation, still, no head, although the cap did phift when it was opened. Dark brown in color, clear. I did get some floaters (sediment) as I wasn't as careful as I could have been when I poured the beer.

Flavor... oh the smooth blend of malt, hops, very drinkable. Very surprised with how well this beer has held up for the last 20 years. Medium mouth feel, appropriate to style. No off flavors, very well crafted! Raisin, plumps, figs, bread, hint of caramel. The warmth of the alcohol folds in to the mix.

A beverage of tremendous flavor, well worth the wait.