Like a lot of folks, I have what I call a “Beer Lost & Found”. It could also be called “the Wayback of the Fridge”.
It’s where you look when you’re desperate for a cool one, but are broke and possibly already a bit “festive”. You push past the old pickles, the baking soda, and the monster that has grown to life in an old rubbermaid. Then your fridge, true companion that it is, produces a miracle beer seemingly out of the cold, smelly ether of the backalleys of its bowels.
Sometimes it’s a homerun. Sometimes it’s a High Life or Keystone Light. Whatever it is, it makes your day and prompts a quick, covert hug for your buddy, the refrigerator.
I was in such a predicament the other day. Searching for gold in a barren wasteland of abandoned leftovers for the diamond in the rough.
The fridge, in all of its benevolence, conjured up a Grand Slam: an Abita Christmas Ale from last year!
And if you can’t read that enormous picture, allow me to paraphrase: “Abita Christmas Ale is awesome because it’s different every year.”
I thought I would put this to the test. Then I told my friend Roy about my idea, saying that, “I don’t know if I believe ’em. I’m gonna try it.”
His response was loaded with abhorrent common sense. “It’s gonna taste different regardless. It’s a year old!”
The idea of “aging” beer is lost on me, really. Granted, I have a 12-pack of pumpkin beer which I plan on drinking on a miserable summer day in 2015, but the only way a beer will make it past a few days in our house is if it hides in the back, which will only save it for so long, as this post shows. You’re really only delaying the inevitable by being elusive, scaredy cat beers.
Getting on with my test, regardless of Roy’s sage advice and poo-pooing of my plan, I went out and picked up a sixer of this year’s Christmas Ale. Because tasting beer is fun and it doesn’t need to make sense.
The beer on the left is from last year. The one on the right is this year’s vintage.
They look, more or less, exactly the same. Except for one small difference:
I am guessing that used to say, “Best By 04/08/14”. That is a date that has passed, which means this one may not be at its best, but does beer ever truly go bad? If it’s kept sealed? I don’t know. Like I said, they usually don’t last long enough for me to find out, but according to the two pours shown above, there hasn’t been much loss in carbonation.
This year’s is best before March. 5 days after Saint Patrick’s Day. This beer had to know it was doomed. If it made it through December, it wouldn’t have a chance of sneaking by Paddy’s Day.
Do they taste different? Well, I guess I would say yes and no. The newer one is obviously fresher tasting. The head on the older one dissipated much faster.
But, as much as I hate to say it, last year’s Christmas Ale just tastes like an older, flatter, version of this year’s.
Then again, as I have pointed out numerous times in the past, my palate is about as unrefined as they get. I couldn’t even name two different kinds of hops or malts, and have no desire to pursue that sort of wankery. I, more or less, separate consumables into two categories: “like” and “don’t like”.
Does this mean the Christmas Ale is a bad beer? Not at all. In fact, it ranks pretty high on my Abita list. It and the Grapefruit, which is their seasonal “harvest” beer for Christmastimes, are both really good, to me.
Just fyi, the bottom tier Abita beers, in my mind, are actually their old standards like “Purple Haze” and “Turbodog”.
In the end, all this means to me is that the recipe is a great one, so there’s no need to change it. If it is truly different, last year’s recipe and this year’s are pretty damn close.
In closing, I haven’t proven a furgin’ thing. Except that drinking beer, and pretending to be productive by doing it, is really fun and mentally fulfilling.
Have a great Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and break from work, which is the true reason for the season.