I Hate A Mystery

Remember that entry I posted a month ago about 20-year old stouts in the bottle? Yeah, me neither. So, let’s refresh some memories here: back in June, one of our loyal customers came in with several bags full of bottles that had been sitting around on a shelf since the early 90s. They were all various stouts, from cream to double to Imperial and the breweries were an eclectic mix of domestic microbreweries like Rogue, North Coast, and Red Hook and a bunch of foreign ones like Samuel Smith.

Well, we got the wild idea yesterday afternoon before work to crack open some of these bottles and try them out. Would beer that was almost older than I am actually taste good?

Yes! As a matter of fact, the Rogue Shakespeare Stout from 1993 was one of the best—No, not really. I’m lying.

The anticlimactic resolution to this mystery was that beer really oughtn’t be left on a shelf somewhere in somebody’s office for nearly twenty years and then opened. It’s sort of like taking the lid off the Ark of the Covenant… except that instead of lightning and ghosts so ugly your face melts, we filled up the whole bar with rancid vinegar smells and spent the next half hour coughing and grimacing and regretting our idiocy.

Geoff tried to convince me after a sip of the first beer that he could actually taste the chocolate and coffee underneath all that putridity (no doubt a trick to try and get me to chug my glass’ worth). I took a sip small enough to barely wet my lips and said something best not repeated here.

There is one upside to all this, though. We cleaned out the bottles and added many of them to our windowsill collection. Some are from breweries that either don’t exist any longer or don’t still brew the stout labeled. Check them out the next time you come in, and just be grateful that you’re experiencing beer history with your eyes rather than your taste buds.

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