That subtitle is not just misleading, it’s entirely off the mark. This is far from a “new” beer. In fact, as far as I’m aware this beer isn’t even made anymore. This thing isn’t just not new, it’s outright old. Seven years old, to be exact.
So, why then in a beer review column such as this would I review something that is likely next to impossible for the average reader to get their hands on? I mean, what is the point, outside of flouting some beer world connection that I have that I might be, but ought not need to be proud of in public, right? Well, it’s probably just exactly that.
But not really. For the holiday break at my shop – which runs from New Year’s Day up through the 7th – I decided I’d take something special home to review and consider. Here we have a seven-year cellar-aged scotch ale from Rogue Brewing. Why it’s special is that it’s possibly the oldest beer I’ve ever had and beyond that, allows me an interesting opportunity to explore some more of what the wonders of cellar aging can do to one here, with you my readers.
So to begin with as we can see, it pours looking more or less exactly as it ought to, with a dark brown hue and minimal head. In truth, I have yet to encounter a beer which changes color or appearance all that substantially due to aging. Where the first notes of change are however linger in the nose.
Scotch ales are typically maltier and boozier bits of business to begin with. Fresh off the line, these beauties will often come in anywhere between 8-12% abv and will usually possess the same sort of rich deep roasty malt notes one can find in barley wine. Here however these notes become far more pronounced with an almost briny quality to them.
At a sip this becomes apparent as well with these notes translating to an almost oyster-like hint lingering just behind the alcoholic punch and well defined, bitter-sweet malt profile. Within this somewhat murky 10.5% abv relic, the taste honestly has something I wish to call a proper patina to it, with a musky, low bitterness, all suspended as it is here in a bold, yet surprisingly smooth overall body. Surprising as well are the texture and the bite.
Expecting as I am the standard weightier middle-heavy feel, I am instead taken almost aback by the genuinely middle-weight slickness to the sip. Likewise, while expecting a burn and almost fusel warmth to each indulgence, I’m instead once again presented with a refined sort of smoothness here that takes me altogether by surprise. Though still big and bold as it was when it went it, it shows that in its maturity this beer becomes altogether more ingratiating to the palate while still offering the sensory buzz its original crafting had gifted to it.
So to this, it is to Rogue, to the glories of cellar aging (seriously, try it) and of course to you (the readers who I insist give a bottle a couple of years to mature) that I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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