Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Session

The Session this month is about beers for a special occasion, perhaps a brew you've had stashed away for a while just waiting for the right moment. I rarely do this with beer mainly because most of my friends are not beer lovers and I haven't got anyone to share a special beer with who might fully appreciate why I lay a particular beer down for a couple of years. One beer that does come to mind as a celebratory beer was a few bottles of the 2003 vintage of Thomas Hardy's Ale. I opened a bottle of this a few few years ago at Christmas thinking it was the perfect beer to drink with the Old Man on a cold winter evening. We had previously taken quite a shine to the super strong Samiclaus Lager over Christmas so believed that Thomas Hardy's Ale would be just our thing. Sadly, this proved not to be so as it was too rich for the both of us and we didn't really enjoy it. So, two years later I have dug out another bottle of this potent ale from my beer stash to see if it or I have changed in the intervening period.

Not a sound came from the cap as I eased it from the bottle. This would be a cause for concern in just about any other beer, but not this one. It poured totally flat even with an attempt at a little agitation and the deep ruby colour settled out very quickly indeed. It smelled strong. At bottling it was rated at 11.7% but according to a few beer textbooks the strength can go up a point or two thanks to the massive residual extract contained in the bottle. I tentatively took my first sip dearly hoping that my palate had matured enough in the intervening years to appreciate this beer. The alcohol smacks you in the mouth initally but once this is dealt with the rich viscous body gives up very potent beef broth and mollases. My other half took a very tentative sip declared it disgusting and said it smelled of 'cow nuts' - a form of enriched feed dished out to cattle in the West of Ireland. Lucky cows, because I really enjoyed it this time round and fortunatley have another few bottles put away. Perhaps I'll save them for a special occasion and actually enjoy it this time.

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