Some books you wish you had read earlier. Vintage Beer by Patrick Dawson is one of them. Because of this slim but info-filled book I have been bringing up two bottles a month from my cellar.
There is a set of common rules that most follow in laying down bottles for later, but until this book, the science behind those rules has been M.I.A. Dawson lays out the underlying reasoning in a clear way, so you can truly understand why a British barley wine might be a better candidate for aging than an American version.
He also guides the novice cellarmaster towards the beer styles that will have the best chances to age and create a whole new taste experience. Barley Wines, Imperial Stouts, Belgian Quads, Flanders Reds and Gueuzes.
The most important take-away for me was that you need to taste the beer in question first and take detailed notes about it so that when you do open it, you can truly see if the aging has improved it or not. Something that I wish I had done years ago.
Dawson has also had other tasters help him in describing aged beers so that you don’t get just one opinion on the beer and instead get a more layered description. Also, the beers he has chosen to taste are all easily found and reasonable price wise so that you can start your own beer cave. [Except the Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn Brewery]
This will be one of those books with bookmarks and notes that will be dog-eared from use.
The Beer of the Week is not to be cellared. It is the new saison from Anchor Brewing. For their spin on the classic Belgian style, the San Francisco brewery added lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger to create a spicy citrus flavor that gives this beer a distinctive California taste.
Your Homework is to read about the formation of the craft beer revolution from the standpoint of one who was there at the beginning. Steve Hindy of Brooklyn Brewery fame tracks the history of our favorite libation with The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink. See what the early stages of the craft beer craze looked like to an insider.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.