Back of the Closet - May 2020, my #BotCW

In line with what was commented in the previous post, the #BotCW is a collective virtual event consisting of taking out beers that, for one reason or another, be it accidental or voluntary, have been waiting for their moment in the depths of our closets or cellars for some time.

Happy to have recovered this tradition born in the blogosphere, but with an increasing weight in social networks, last Friday I set out to review my inventory of aged beers to choose several candidates and put them in the fridge. Of those chosen, I finally took four: all of them national, being my choice absolutely deliberate so as to highlight our breweries during these difficult times. In all cases, the aging was voluntary and not by mistake. Let's go see them.

'Satisfaction with the results of this prolonged aging, with an average of 76 months, and for the great reception of the event'

Naparbier Pumpkin Tzar

11.6% ABV.
Acquisition: April 2013.
Best by: unknown -blurred-.

First batch of a Naparbier beer also signed by prominent names in our scene: Manuel Baltasar, Robert Merryman and Sven Bosch, the latter prior to his joining the Navarrese brewery. Its peculiarity, in a moment of still humble development of craft beer -2012-, was the fact of including pumpkin and chili habanero to an Imperial Stout, which were not abundant either. A very successful beer, which helped increase the popularity and admiration for Napar. Today I would hardly consider it for aging as it is a first batch and incorporates unusual ingredients: but it was a wise move; a big wise move.

With a tiny noise when opening, there is a noticeable intensity of dark chocolate and roast just from the bottle. When pouring, it appears very dark, with a merely testimonial head, in contrast to the long and intense dark and liquory aroma that the beer gives off. Indeed, chocolate dominates, accompanied by pleasant hints that remain on the threshold of being burnt, with a certain smoky touch and a minimal vegetable touch in the background, that I tend to identify better with the pepper than with the pumpkin, which at this point is totally absent. Mellow in the mouth, it brings back memories of toffee, brownie, cake or, lightly, hazelnut, walnut and vanilla. Smooth carbonation and balanced in flavours, it seems to have an infinite aftertaste: the chili, that at first seemed not to be there, vindicates itself 7 years later with a very pleasant spiciness, providing sensational warmth.

It mildly hints at its age, but the oxidation is perfectly integrated. The fact that this is the result of aging a first-batch beer made in 2012, which incorporates unusual ingredients, is a clear sign of the scandalous advantage that Naparbier had over the rest.

Ales Agullons Setembre

5.5% ABV.
Acquisition: December 2013.
Best by: January 2017.

Setembre is a true classic in our scene, a concept ahead of its time that, as early as 2009, introduced its proposal of an English-style Pale Ale blend with young Lambic -as is known, brewed in Cantillon-. It is, in turn, a clear example of how the presence of lactic acid changes the general rules on beer aging, acting as a preservative of oxidation in beers of moderate graduation. Its action combined with brettanomyces also ensures a wonderful evolution. For further details, keep reading.

Without hardly any sound when uncapping, in the glass it shines with a vivid amber color, slightly turbidity and without foam. Gently, but taking its dominant role, the hints of brett flood the nose, accompanied by earthy, woody notes and a growing character of caramel, dried apricots, hazelnuts, almonds and even figs, or a cheerful candy smell, as it warms. Almost flat, in the mouth it is dry and tannic, with a surprisingly medium-full body and a sensational balance of flavours. Delicious change of tune for a beer that does not show any trace of unpleasant oxidative aromas. Superlative.

Montse and Carlos are very recognised and beloved people within our beer community, but when I drink Setembre I am always struck by the feeling that we are not fully aware of what we have within reach. When it's aged, it does nothing but reinforce this feeling.

Yria - Guinea Pigs! & El Oso y El Cuervo Quimera

9.5% ABV.
Acquisition: April 2013.
Best by: unknown -omitted-.

First Spanish beer produced through a crowdfunding campaign -which would give rise to many more- by a tripartite of brewers that were some of the main names of the scene in those first years of dynamism on the Iberian inner plateau. The recipe was voted by the patrons and launched in 2013 during the mythical Noblejas Beer Festival as an Imperial White IPA. Upon tasting, I decided to keep some bottles to see if the alcoholic strength it presented could settle and provide new sensations in its evolution.

When poured it presents an amber to copper colour, darker than I remembered. I notice a remarkable beige foam, with visible coagulated proteins, that nevertheless promptly disappears. On the nose it is liquory, with aromas of Sherry, toffee, dark caramel, raisins or dried apricots, with a certain citric touch and a slight reminder of the coriander used. Naturally, wheat is not a great ally seven years later, and its degradation contributes to the oxidation layer that glides over the whole, although in the mouth it presents a good balance between sweetness and a pleasant herbal bitterness that comes out at the end, providing a classy contrast. Long and warm finish, with a certain spicy touch. Rich, but old, as it was to be expected.

A bit of the Castilian-Madrid craft beer history at each sip. Reconverted to Barley Wine for years, my notes indicate a high point in 2016, and a progressive decline since then, so my last bottle will soon follow.

Guineu & La Quince Vanilla Black Velvet 2015

9.5% ABV.
Acquisition: June 2015.
Best by: June 2021.

Last call with the 2015 version of one of the most popular recurring collaborations between these two famous breweries from Catalonia and Madrid, respectively. An Imperial Stout with Madagascar vanilla beans, whose success has triggered the appearance of several other versions such as Brandy BA, Chocolate, Vanilla Milkshake, Pecan Nut or Nitro Vanilla; all of them frankly recommended. Knowing its good evolution over time, every year I set aside some bottles. Please find the results of a good aging below.

In the glass it is black, with amber reflections and a fleeting beige foam that rises slowly. Taking the beer closer, it gives me the impression like I am going to eat one of those bonbons filled with brandy: dark and milk chocolate, some coffee and liquor, rounded with sweet notes of toffee and caramel, and a vanilla the intensity of which is surprising after five years of sitting tight. Mild presence of esters and a touch of grass and pine. Round, sweet and harmonious, lowly carbonated after its aging and with a good balance of flavours thanks to the powerful bitterness. Not complex, but very effective and attractive: excellent at this point.

A sure bet whose aging tends to polish the sharper bitterness it displays when fresh. Among the different vintages, 2015 is possibly among the best: these five years have done wonders.


And after the intake of these four local beers, with an average of 76 months of aging -more than 6 years- and a cumulative of 227 months, I end with this edition with great satisfaction for the good results of such a long aging, which exceeds what I usually wait for most of the bottles. Likewise, I am also pleased with the good reception that the #BotCW has had for its confinement edition: soon the summary of it all.

Salut i birra!


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