Monday, February 11, 2013

Beer O'Clock: Did I Wait Too Long?

There's a problem in hoarding beer: eventually, you have to drink it?

Not much of a problem, is it?

Sometimes, I buy a beer and put it in my cellar, telling myself that I'll drink it at a special occasion or that I'll wait until I have a theme.

But then a special release will present itself, or a limited-release seasonal will come out. And I put those beers down as a priority, tell myself that I have to get a review out for those first, so that my readers, if they're interested, can get some for yourselves.

You're welcome.

But then those other beers fall behind and I never seem to find the right time to open them.

Take this week's beer, for example.

Last July, when I vacationed with my family along the eastern seaboard of the United States, we made some stops along the way and I visited a couple of brew pubs. I took notes and wrote some reviews, which, if you haven't read before, you can read here. And here.

When we spent a couple of days in Washington, we visited a Whole Foods Market to pick up a quick meal. In the store's basement, I discovered an entire section of local craft beer, and I went wild: I picked up so many bottles that I could barely carry them back to our hotel. My wife and kids had to help carry my dinner while I carried the cases and lone bottles.

I've since consumed most of what I brought back. I also gave some away to friends. But there are a couple of bottles that I still have, lying on their sides amongst my wine bottles, waiting to be opened.

Last night, I opened one of those bottles.
Double D Double IPA (10.2% ABV)
Old Dominion Brewing Company
Dover, DE, U.S.A.
Beer O'Clock rating: 4/5
I was first drawn to the bottle by it's label. As a kid, I was obsessed with WWII fighter planes. My father would buy me models and help me assemble them; would painstakingly paint them with camouflage markings and patiently apply the decals to just the right place.

I loved the bombers that we built and was fascinated by the ornate artwork that would be affixed to the nose section. In most cases, it was a pinup girl, scantily clad and riding a bomb, sidesaddle.

That's just what I saw on this bottle. It was the artwork that caught my eye, but when I saw that this was a double-hopped IPA, I was sold.

On Saturday, nearly seven months after I purchased this ale, I opened it up.

Candy-orange in colour (I was reminded of lollipops—more childhood memories), this IPA delivered a fresh, foamy, off-white head. There was sediment in the bottle, but that didn't bother me at all.

The nose was intense and had a candied sweetness, with floral notes and bold orange citrus fruits. In the mouth, Double D lives up to its name with intense hops, burnt orange, and caramel. There's a hint of sweetness to the incredibly flavourful finish.

Double D boasts an incredible 95 IBUs, and delivers with an explosive punch that is well-balanced with the high alcohol level.

As its label illustrates, this is a voluptuous IPA with an explosive amount of flavour.

Yet, despite the incredible flavour, I was worried that I had hung onto it for too long. As I drank my pint, I saw the sediment bubble upwards with the carbon dioxide and the pieces seemed to get bigger, much like the bricking effect you can get in an old wine that is past its prime.

I have watched a glass of old Bordeaux disintegrate in my glass, have experienced a new taste with every sip, as the wine quickly turned into vinegar. It's a fascinating process to watch.

While this didn't happen with Double D—it maintained its structure and taste—I had to ask myself: did I wait too long to open this beer? Perhaps not for the life of the ale, but in depriving myself of an awesome brew, definitely.

To my Canadian friends, I suggest you keep an eye out for this beer the next time you slip across the border. It's worth having in your cellar.


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