Cave-aged IPAs? It's not doctor recommended, kid tested or mother approved. Most brew hoarders go by the “eeny, meeny, miny, moe; if it's hoppy, let it go” mantra–thus, they only age high-alcohol beers. And we're sure there's some scientific sense in that. But we also know that there are exceptions to every rule, so we stuck hop-heavy beers in our makeshift beer cellar. Talk about testing our resolve! Just imagine: You make a beer run, scoop up a frosty cold bomber of your favorite high-grade hoppy strong ale, only to file it away like a dusty library book.
In the hopes of heading off any unfortunate science experiments, this week we popped the caps on three of our oldest pale ales just to see if they were drinkable–or better yet, even more desirable than fresh (ehhh, not quite). Some tasting notes:
Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary IPA
Cave-aged: Eight months
Eye: Redhead amber
Nose: Bottled air, dead flowers
Tongue: Cider, soapsuds, cinnamon-stick gum and ammonia
Brain: Autumnal; the strong hopping process gives a lasting die-out effect
Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA
Cave-aged: Six months
Eye: Sun-kissed, slightly dead marigold, no spritz
Nose: Nutty, sweet nuthin'
Tongue: Caramelized sugar, no hops in sight!
Brain: A surprisingly close approximation (and great version) of a barley wine
Stone 11th Anniversary Black IPA
Cave-aged: 10 months
Eye: Bone-gray and corduroy-brown
Nose: Gamey funk, trash and stout
Tongue: Pure beer bitter, baker's chocolate
Brain: Aged beer in a classical sense plus the still bubbly brightness of hops