Six years ago this month, Stan Hieronymus inaugurated the first-ever edition of The Session, the monthly beer blogging day that started as much as about virtual collaborative beer tastings as anything and has since morphed, 72 months later, into a series that covers an incredibly wide span of topics. We’ve had topics that have included hype, novelty, brewery growth, labels, breweriana, beer and cheese, and many, many different styles of beer. It’s been an amazing six years.
(And yes, I was there from the beginning, and I haven’t yet missed a Session.)
Once or twice a year I take a beer audit. I open cupboards and boxes and just have a good look at what’s there. Some beers get moved about, some make it from a box into the fridge, others get pushed further to the back of the cupboard for another day. Often I just stare at the bottles for a while and think about when I’ll drink them. Apart from the enjoyment of just looking at a hoard of beer, It tells me something about my drinking habits.
So, I’m interested to know if you take stock of the beers you have, what’s in your cellar, and what does it tell you about your drinking habits. This could include a mention of the oldest, strongest, wildest beers you have stored away, the ratio of dark to light, strong to sessionable, or musings on your beer buying habits and the results of your cellaring. I look forward to reading your posts on Friday March 1st, leave a comment here when you do.
(Fittingly as I write this, I’m sipping on an Eku 28, an 11% abv Eisbock which would be perfectly cellarable.)
Several times a year—probably more—I do go through the beers I’ve been storing to remind myself exactly what I have on hand, though it’s never so formal that I would call it an “audit”; at any given time I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I have squirreled away and for the most part they are stronger, specialty beers that would do well with aging—just the types of beers you would expect to cellar and age. I love to peek through at some of these older vintages and sometimes surprise myself by re-discovering something I’d forgotten I had.
You want a list? Right off the top of my head:
- 2 bottles of 2006 The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery; a case each of 2007-2011 The Abyss, and 7 bottles of the 2012 vintage
- 2 bottles of Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXIII
- 2011 Pelican Pub & Brewery Mother of All Storms
- 5 bottles of Rogue Ales 2011 Imperial Stout (I just acquired those the other day!)
- Several vintages of Deschutes’ The Dissident
- 2 bottles of Deschutes Collage (Conflux #1)
- 2 bottles (I think) of Deschutes The Stoic
- 1 bottle of Deschutes 2009 Mirror Mirror Barleywine
- 1 bottle of (I think) Widmer 2012 Raspberry Imperial Stout
- 4 or 5 years’ worth of Deschutes Jubelale (several six-packs each)
- 2010(?) Pelican Pub & Brewery Saison or similar
- A couple of ’90s or early ’00s bottles of Thomas Hardy’s Ale (which I will probably never drink, at least until I’m very old)
- 5 or 6 bottles in the Elysian Apocalypse series from last year
I have a few others I’m forgetting (or will be drinking soon); you can see my cellar tends to be skewed heavily towards Deschutes Brewery, which makes sense because I share a hometown with them. I’ve been collecting The Abyss fervently since 2007 (and have been extremely lucky to still have those 2 bottles of 2006!) with the intent of holding an epic vertical tasting at some point, but the others are all simply extensions of my packrat personality tendencies.
However in recent years I’ve been fighting that packrat impulse as I’ve come to realize (or perhaps “accept” is the more accurate term) that while some beers will do well with some aging, at its core beer is meant to be drank, and storing bottles of great beer away just to look at once in awhile just won’t do. They need to be opened. Enjoyed.
So ultimately, for me, I think the answer to the question of what taking stock of my beer “tells you about your drinking habits” is that while I have excellent tastes (don’t we all?) I need to let go a little bit and lose the “raccoon-gripping-shiny-object” approach to my beer hoard and, you know, drink the beer.
Oh, I will definitely still cellar beers. And I will still gaze longingly at them. But I’m going to start drinking them too—it’s time.
And if anyone is interested in joining me for some vertical tastings… well, get in touch.