Last week, we visited the somewhat counterintuitive topic of cellaring lagers, and this week we continue the theme by pulling out a handful of aged IPAs. So, what’s it like to age IPAs for one year? Let’s take a look:
2013 SAINT ARNOLD ENDEAVOR
What we tasted: A somewhat stale hop aroma greeted the nose with hints of berry and grass. Creamy, caramely malts carried leafy hop tones; just a touch of citrus remained in the sip. Overall, not the worst aged beer we’ve ever tried.
What aging (probably) did to the beer: Fresh, this imperial IPA boasts vibrant pineapple and grapefruit tones, which have faded away. The malts have evolved from bready, toasted flavors to near-toffee sweetness. If you’ve got a bottle, open it now.
2013 DOCK STREET DEVIL’S DOUBLE
What we tasted: Unless we’re missing something, we couldn’t believe this beer was an IPA—it tasted just like a farmhouse ale. The beer’s Sorachi Ace hops were alive and well, and colored the rustic, earthy sip with lively candied lemon; smooth sweet malt undertones enhanced the hops’ sweet fruitiness.
What aging (probably) did to the beer: It’s 9%-ABV was barely detectable, for starters. As for the Belgian quality, we have no idea what happened over the last year, but we absolutely loved it. This doesn’t taste like an imperial IPA, but if you’re a fan of farmhouse ales, you’ll love it as it is now.
2013 SHORT’S LIBERATOR DOUBLE IPA
What we tasted: Brewed with lemon and orange zest, this beer definitely had a citric bite, but more pithy than zesty; hints of ginger blended with the bready malts for almost a gingersnap cookie flavor.
What aging (probably) did to the beer: Some of the brightness has faded, but for the most part, this beer’s tasting much like it did when it arrived in our offices last year. We recommend opening it now, or waiting another six months to see where the journey goes.
2013 GREAT DIVIDE RUMBLE
What we tasted: This oak-aged IPA led with pretty intense tannic wood shavings. Sweet caramel malts balanced out the drying oak, while slight floral-and-orange hops accented the sip.
What aging (probably) did to the beer: While the hops have diminished, the overall profile has really fused together for a tight swallow. Without the overt hops, however, the oak is a bit more dominant than we’d like. While you could open this now, it might be interesting to see if the malts develop dark fruit tones, and how that eventually pairs with the oak. Another year should do the trick.
2013 FOUNDERS DOOM
What we tasted: This bourbon-barrel-aged imperial IPA was one of our “Top 25 Beers of the Year” in 2013, and we’re still enjoying the heck out of it. While a fresher bottle paired fruity bourbon with citrusy hops, this year-old version connected spicy booze with a more pronounced spicy hop character. Vanilla accentuated the beer’s creamy malts before a dry, woody finish capped off the sip.
What aging (probably) did to the beer: The alcohol’s now really well integrated into the sip. As mentioned above, the hop character is becoming spicier, and losing its citrus quality. This is a big beer, and will definitely continue to evolve.