Is that a quote from Burns? It was what came to mind as we drank some old beers last night.
I saw a shelf full of old bottle beers in a second-hand furniture shop in October and sent the photo to Gavin thinking he might like to try some. His reply was a request that I get some so we could have a tasting.
Gavin, Jonny, Rob and I gathered yesterday evening with about a dozen bottles on the table. We had a bucket ready and a jug of water (to rinse glasses and mouths).
The age range of the beers was 1972 to 1993. Also daring to sip was Kev Jones of the Brigantes of York who hosted the tasting and had kindly stored the bottle in his cellar to get them to the right temperature and allow the expected sediment to settle after moving them there.
The oldest was the Courage Anniversary Ale made in 1972. It had a picture of Windsor Castle on the label, and that was one for the first that we tried. Our theory was that the lighter ales would have deteriorated the worst and the stouts would have survived the best.
They were all awful. Obviously there was no alcohol left in them, but some just tasted so bad all I could think of was either old wood, leather or a corpse.
Our expectation turned out to be wrong. The lighter ales had not fared worse then the darker ones. The stouts and the old bottles of Guinness had gone like engine oil in appearance and the flavour was not much better – completely undrinkable. In all of them there was a great deal of sediment that we had to avoid pouring out.
The 1993 Joshua Tetley Centenary Ale was the most drinkable, thought being the best of the lot did not mean it was any good. Gavin and Kev thought it could pass off for some continental beer, but I can not imagine who would want to buy something like that.
And the point of it all? A group of blokes enjoying each others company, hanging our together while stimulating the mind and the palate.