When picking a year isn’t just for wine…
The holiday season is upon us again and there is no better way, in my opinion, to experience a vertical tasting than with the amazing selection of annual spiced ales and winter warmers that are released.
What’s a vertical tasting you ask?
It’s a way of drinking different annual variations of the same beer by the same brewer in order to appreciate how past beers change and evolve and how the brewers may change current versions. Here are a few that I’ve recently had the pleasure of tasting and would recommend.
2007, 2008 & 2009 Troegs Mad Elf
Mad Elf has always been one of my holiday favorites. I generally don’t like super sweet beers but for some reason, maybe it’s the high ABV, I always enjoy this around the holidays. If you have the opportunity to taste any of the years prior, the largest noticeable distinction I capture is that the sweetness mellows out.
2008 & 2009 Anchor Christmas
I’ve had many of their past iterations aside from trying these two together and they make one of the spiciest beers. Having these side by side you can smell the difference right up front. Aside from a mellowing sweetness in the 2008, you can also detect an entirely different range of spice. This is due to a distinct change in the recipe.
2008 & 2009 Fuller’s Vintage Ale
What’s unique about this beer is that the brewers recommend holding off 3 to 4 years before drinking so that it can mature. Even though these aren’t up to the proper age before drinking you can understand immediately why they need aging. The 2009 is sweet with in-your-face notes of bourbon and dried fruits. Whereas in 2008 the flavors seem much more blended and they become more balanced.
It may be difficult to seek out beers from years prior. You may be lucky to come across one at a takeout store but also, keep an eye out for our calendar where you may see a vertical tasting event pop-up. If you are really anxious to try some aged holiday beers, be sure to cellar a few bottles from this year’s case for the next holiday season.