For my second post, I wanted to introduce a new, regular(ish) segment. One of the great things about craft beer is the multitude of brews suitable of cellaring. A space that has traditionally been reserved for wines, more and more beers are being released that have the ability to age without going bad (assuming they are cellared properly).
As a fairly recent convert to the craft beer scene, I haven’t been able to build up a large trove of cellared beers just yet. But I’m working on it, and I thought it would be cool to share the results. Today I’m going to introduce two beers I’ve just added to my cellar, Vancouver Island’s Hermannator Ice Bock and Driftwood’s Lustrum Wild Sour Ale. I’m going to tell you what they taste like right now, and then at some unspecified point in the future I’m going to revisit them and see how they’ve changed! In the case of Hermannator, I have enough bottles to revisit it multiple times. I’ve spoken (tweeted, really) with Vancouver Island Brewery and they’ve confirmed that, in the right conditions, Hermannator can be be aged for upwards of 5 years!
Vancouver Island Hermannator Ice Bock
The great thing about Ice Bock (or Eisbock) as a style is the way it is made. Brewers usually start with a sweet and malty beer, like a bock or doppelbock and then partially freeze it. Because alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, the water freezes first, separating it from the rest of the brew. Doing this concentrates the taste and alcohol content in the remaining liquid. Ice Bocks usually range from 9-15% ABV, and Hermannator is no exception, clocking in at a nice 9.5%.
As of the 2013 release, Vancouver Island Brewery has now been brewing this phenomenal Ice Bock for 26 years! I was able to pick up a dozen bottles from the liquor store and try it for the very first time recently. And I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. When it first hit my tongue it was like someone pressed an ice cube against the tip of my tongue (that’s the slight carbonation hitting), and then the flavour flooded in. So sweet, with huge chocolate, caramel and dark fruit flavours. It’s also incredibly smooth. The alcohol bite is minimal, but there’s definitely a nice warm feeling happening there. Even without any aging, this is a fantastic beer. I can’t wait to see what happens when I come back to it in 6 months or a year for my next bottle.
Driftwood Lustrum Wild Sour Anniversary Ale
Released to celebrate Driftwood Brewery’s 5-year anniversary of brewing in Victoria, Lustrum also slots into Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series of sour beers as the 4th edition. I’m a big fan of sour beers (I also love eating lemons), so when I heard about this one I became very excited. I already loved the last batch of Belle Royale that was released earlier this year, so I trusted Driftwood to deliver here.
Lustrum is aged in French Oak barrels for over a year, giving it a very distinct character. It pours a deep red colour with a nice sour nose. The taste is oak, tart, lots of black currant and a light sourness. It wasn’t as sour as I was expecting, but that’s OK because it tasted so good. More than any other beer I’ve had, this has a deep red wine character. It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really excited to see how it tastes after a year in the cellar! Driftwood only made 18 barrels of this beast, so I was happy to procure 2 bottles for myself. At $15/bottle, it isn’t cheap, but trust me – it’s worth it.