When I had received the three Twilight Summer Ales from Deschutes Brewery, I noted that they all were freshly bottled within days of receiving them (all bottled on the same day, April 25). I thought it might be interesting to drink each of the three Twilights at different times, sort of a slow-motion mini-vertical tasting, to see how they changed over the few weeks the experiment would be carried out. So, I did just that, took some notes on each one as I drank it, and I’m finally writing up those results.
The beers were all stored cold so as to keep them as close to a “control” as possible.
Date: May 1. Notes:
(Aroma) Green hops, mustard greens, floral and mildly tropical. Nice toasty malts, moderately sweet. (Taste) Bready luscious malts on the tongue, crisp herbal hoppiness. Not terribly pungent though it smells like summer.
Date: May 15. Notes:
(Aroma) Herbal, mustard/wild mustard greens, spicy. Crystal malt nose, mild, sweet, bread crust. I think it got spicier/less “green” and fruity. (Taste) Malty and a touch thinner than previously, I think. Crusty bread and a clean bitterness that’s a bit herbal but also more neutral (clean).
Date: June 2. Notes:
(Aroma) Green and herbal but not really spicy, more like fresh-cut grass in that it’s fresh and refreshing. Malts a little more pronounced, with bready sweetness. (Taste) Malt at the forefront, toasty caramelized grains, with English-spicy hop bitterness that’s crisp and clean. Luscious with a bit of a dry finish.
I think it’s pretty clear that this was quite a bit more hop-forward barely a week after being bottled, with a fascinating progression from floral and fruity(ish) to spicy to herbal and mellow and more English in character. The malts do not follow a similar pattern, instead becoming more pronounced as the hops fade and not tasting “old” or “stale”, instead which I think actually improved (the maltiness, not necessarily the overall beer).
Not a bad progression by any means, though I could see how different people and tastes could appreciate different levels of age more (or less). You like a malty Twilight? Aim for a month old or more. More hop-forward? As fresh as possible. Neither of these bits of advice should be a revelation… nor should you think too hard on it. Just go pick up some Twilight Ale.