Saturday, February 06, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: Harvest Ale Vintage 2000 (21 years later)

Havest Ale Vintage 2000

This happened.

On 29 January 2021, I tasted an aged bottle of J.W. Lees & Co. Harvest Ale (11.5% alcohol barleywine 1), that the Middleton, England-brewery had brewed and bottled twenty-one years earlier, in Y2K. And that had resided in my 'cellar' since.
Though J.W. Lees Brewery of Middleton, England, has been crafting quality beer since 1876, it wasn't until 1986 that it released its delectable sipper into the world. Brewed with the choicest [me: ugh] Maris Otter malt [me: sublime] and East Kent Goldings hops [Ibid.] , it has the legs to go the distance. The brewery uses a house-developed yeast strain to ferment the brew in original open copper-lined vessels.
Vintage Beer (Patrick Dawson): Storey Publishing, 2014.

"But," the old brewmaster asked, "How did the beer TASTE?"

Gently prying the crown cap, I heard a faint fizz. (Listen to your beer.) Considering the Harvest Ale's venerable age, its carbonic condition 2 and head retention were remarkably good. In fact, they were that of a 'fresh' beer. Likewise the clarity —just see-through deep garnet color— was good.

In the beer's aroma, I sniffed chocolate and dark berries. Taking a sip, I tasted the same but with secondary flavors of oloroso sherry and ruby port. Taking a gulp, I was drinking a semi-sweet beer with an unctuous finish (in a good way). Any burn from its alcoholic strength (11.5%) had been mellowed by two-decades-and-one-year of time.

I might have enjoyed a flourless chocolate dessert (or a fine Stilton cheese) as an accompaniment but, given such a divine taste of liquid history, I enjoyed it per ipsum. Alas, the bottle contained only 275 milliliters (9.3 U.S. fluid ounces) of beer. Waiting so long for pleasure so brief.

  • 1 Barleywine:
    ...the name given to any top-fermented beer of unusually high, winelike alcohol content, prepared from worts of 1.065-1.120 original gravity, yielding as much as 12 percent alcohol by volume. Barley wines are usually copper-colored or dark brown, strongly flavored, fruity, bittersweet, and sometimes fermented with wine or champagne yeast. Because of their unusual strength, they have little head retention and require long aging periods ranging from six months to several years. ...Also spelled barleywine.
    — Dan Rabin, Carl Forget, Dictonary of Beer & Brewing
    (Boulder, Colorado: Brewers Publications, 1998).
  • 2 Condition: "The amount of carbon dioxide in a beer." (Ibid.)

  • Prior reviews of other beers: here.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of images posted on Saturdays, occasionally (as is the case today) with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • Photo 6 of 52, for year 2021. See it on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 II.
    • Lens: Lumix G 20/F1.7 II.
    • Settings: 20 mm | 1/3 sec | ISO 200 | f/8.0
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • For more from YFGF:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment here ...