Friday, May 13, 2011

9 Year Old Organic Italian Beer, Anyone?

I wonder, have I succeeded in enticing anybody with the title of the post or with the photo of the barely legible obviously worn label? It is in fact true; rescued from the confines of a friends dark, damp, and very dusty cellar, I was given the small gift of a 750 mL bottle of a very old Organic Italian Saison (for information on what a Saison is, refer here). The brewer is Le Baladin and the beer is Wayan. I am Holding back from a bit of background information on the brewer since I have another bottle from the same brewer I will review later. And so moving along, one might ask: just how old is this beer? And was it any good?

Well, to answer the question of age, I'm not really sure. My friend was unsure also. But from the back label (which is much more legible), its consume by date was April 2002, If that's any indication. My friend said most likely he bought it sometime in 2000 or 2001. Some Saisons age well under ideal conditions but given the state of the label and the condition of the box it was in, I would surmise that the conditions for this bottle were less than ideal. However, I thought it interesting to stumble upon such a find, and have the opportunity to sample a beer that had been aging for an entire decade. Would it still taste good? Would there still be carbonation? Will I wake up tomorrow if I consume beer 9 years passed its prime? These were just a few of the questions bouncing around inside my head. Perhaps we should do a bit of sampling and find out. And given the fact that I am writing this post some time after drinking the beer, it's safe to say you can in fact drink beer 9 years passed its consume by date. Now! Onto the tasting notes!

Name: Wayan
Category/Style: Organic Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 5.80%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Barley, Wheat, Spelt, Oats & Rye
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Saccharomycetes
Special Additives: Coriander & Other spices
Bottled: Unknown
Consume by: April 2002
Bottle Size: 750 mL
Location Purchased: Unknown (retrieved from a friends cellar)

The Pour: As I open the bottle and pour the first bit, I can see chunks of dead yeast floating about. I don't think the brewers created this beer with the intention of long-term cellaring. In any case, it pours a cloudy golden-yellow. The faintest hint of a head is straight white. We'll see if it sticks around or if there is any retention at all as we consume the rest of the bottle.

The Nose: The nose is quite malty, sweet, smells slightly of Belgian yeasts and coriander; other spices are noticeable. A lot of bready yeast, candy sugar, orange, something a bit metallic, but a definite malt backbone with lots of spices. Somewhat fruity, a bit of stale apple juice with a bit of dust and barnyard. I wonder what this will taste like considering it's 9 years and 1 month passed it's consume by date :]

The Taste: Initially it is noticeably flat. Medium bodied. Malty and dry. Rather sweet with a bit of spice in there. Really dry finish. I think it really does have a lot going on in there, but the flatness of the extremely old beer is a major turn off. As I pour the next bit, I get a bit more carbonation. The head barely sticks around on the edge of the glass. Flavors are all jumbled it seems. I get a bit of orange marmelade, perhaps a bit of cinnamon. I imagine this beer would be much better if it was fresh.

The Verdict: Well on this one I can't say I gave it a fair shot. But considering I retrieved it from my friends cellar and that it had been sitting there for so long, I thought it would be interesting to review an extremely old bottle of beer. This bottle of beer was 9 years past it's prime so it's entirely possible it was bottled over a decade ago. Not sure if the brewers have changed the recipe for this brew since then, but I think it has a lot of things working for it. The spice notes are nice, I don't detect too much hop presence, but the nose is spot on for a Saison/Farmhouse Ale. The website said that this was the brewers interpretation of a Saison so this may be exactly what it is, however it does have many characteristics of those kinds of ales. There is no telling how much the age has morphed the flavor of this one (if I get the chance while I am here in Italy I'll buy a fresh bottle and do a comparison). I kind of feel I owe it to the brewer. As I drink this, I wonder If I'll wake up in the morning. Or if I'll pass out in bed tonight and never wake up. I can say with ease, considering how flat and dull this beer is that it has lost most of its original character. With that I will sign off, enjoy your evening. Ciao!

Thanks for reading!


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