My Samichlaus wasn’t good!

My bottle of Samichlaus - 1996 vintageI opened up my 1996 bottle of Samichlaus the other night, and found that it had gone bad. Not horribly bad, mind you, but enough to be undrinkable. I tried, though, but after a few sips I just had to pour it out.

I blame my storage—obviously I didn’t keep it stored well enough to last. Too much light and/or heat, probably. And it has moved with us over the years, at least three different houses, so who knows for sure.

My Samichlaus gone badWhen I poured it, it was a viscous brown sludgy-looking liquid; no head at all, and you could see particulate matter floating around in it. It had a strong oily, woody aroma to it (my wife described it as "like echinacea") and a corresponding taste. Woody, a tiny bit metallic. Just enough to know that it wasn’t good any longer.

Properly cellared, a high-alcohol beer can be stored for years without detriment. Come to think of it, a cellaring how-to would make a good article (or series of articles); I can’t say as I’ve seen many writings on the subject. Something for 2007!

One comment

  1. The problem with cellaring a beer with a bottlecap is that caps do not make a perfect seal, so any beer stored in such a container will oxidize fairly quickly.

    Beers that are specifically intended for cellaring will be corked, like gueuzes or other lambic blends. Keeping these on their sides at cellar temperatures should do the trick; although I recently had a 40-year old lambic that was poorly stored (the cork was dried out and crumbly) which was absolutely amazing.

    I suppose one could pull the cap off an ordinary beer and replace it with a cork to see what happens, but I doubt that many beers would improve substantially with age, even the high-gravity stuff like Samiclaus.

    There is a brewery in the UK, St. Peters, that is selling a porter made in early 19th century style: blended with a portion of "stale" beer and "fresh," newly-fermented beer, that is well worth trying. It is regularly available at New Seasons in Portland.

    Just out of curiosity, what did your Samiclaus taste like?

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