Sunday, 29 May 2011

109 Year Old Beer....And A Bit Of A Party

Well like I said last time, the pub celebrated its first year anniversary on Friday, and we did so with gusto. A damn tasty cake which was lovingly baked by queen of puddings, desserts and all things sweet Charlotte, good music provided by Tener Duende and a great atmosphere being proved by a bar filled with all the locals and regulars that have made this first year of business so special.

If you've been reading my blog often, you may of picked up on the fact that I'm fascinated by old and aged beers, and with the recent Thomas Hardy Ale tasting being the oldest brew I'd ever been fortunate enough to try, it urged me to go full on and find a beer with some REAL maturity, and I found it with Bass Kings Ale 1902.... EBay can be a wonderful thing. Brewed by the historic and formally great brewing superpower Bass in 1902, it was called Kings Ale not for the often given reason of being to celebrate the coronation of the newly crowned king Edward VII, but was named so because the aforementioned king turned the valve that allowed the hot water to flow and start the mashing process.

Being the rather interesting beer it is, I thought that saving it for a special occasion seemed like the most appropriate thing to do, with suggestions of saving it for my 21st birthday that's coming up in August or to open it on the 110th anniversary of its brew day next February floating around, I then decide that I was too impatient to wait that long and that the pubs anniversary was just as good of a reason to crack it open as any. I waited until the band took a well earned 20 minute break, and then rounded up the selected few who I decided I would share this special brew with, and then made our way to the pubs function room to drink and talk about this historic bevvie.

After a bit of trouble popping the cork (insert crap joke here...I think I'll go with "we all have that problem from time to time eh lads") , which is perfectly understandably given the age. I carefully pour the rich smelling beer into 5 brandy snifters in which somehow ends up being a 3 man job, and after taking a few photos, we all clink glasses and go nose in for a pleasantly surprising smell, and then to sip the first taste of a 109 year old beer. Amazing, truly amazing. A rich, almost syrupy mouth feel that carries the beers superb and outstandingly still drinkable flavour that's remarkably reminiscent of a very rounded sherry, raisins, honey, a hint of brandy and Dundee marmalade that brings a deeply layered sweetness that balances the foretaste together with the subtle, but noticeably there aftertaste of a marmity saltiness that's less full on then it was in the Thomas Hardy Ale I tried, but was more embodied and layered in to the flavour of the beer.

The most surprising thing to come out of tasting was that we found there were noticeable differences in the taste between the 5 glasses that was dependant on the order in which they were poured. The glasses that were poured first had significantly more sweetness to them then the ones poured last, which had a more rounded flavour to them, which wasn't a bad thing, it just made it even more interesting to pass them round to get a sample of them all. The other noticeable thing was just how fast the oxidation of the beer affected the taste, it certainly needed to be drunk there and then because I think that being left open for even just 30 minutes would of spoiled the beer...and I think I would of beaten someone with the bottle if that happened.

Its was a truly special beer, a brilliant evening and definitely worth the money I paid for it. Its one of the things I love about beer, it really is suited to be drunk with friends, no matter if its just your average 3.8% best bitter or your over 12% 109 year old barley wine...its just the one true social drink.

Once again, thanks to all the people that made this last year so enjoyable for me and the pub, and I hope that I can continue writing this blog and working in this pub so that I can keep you all liquored up and having a good time for years to come. Thanks!!

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