Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cellaring notes on Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Cellaring a Ten FidyThe old saying goes "some things improve with age" and I've been on a year long quest to find out if that statement is true when it comes to aged beer. Every so often I'll have the patience to let a bottle or can of some of my favorite strong brew sit alone by itself in a dark corner of my basement and forget about it for a while. Well this weekend I decided to pull out an imperial stout that I've left age for over a year.

Back in February 2008, I bought a 4-pack of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy imperial stout. I enjoyed the first 2 cans of this beer soon after I brought it home from the store. I had read that certain types of beer would age well and this style of beer was one that would qualify for aging.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is a strong dark stout that weighs in at 9.4% ABV. Many styles of beer that are 8.0% or higher typically can stand up to aging provided you keep the beer in a dark place and in an environment that is relatively constant in temperature.

I know from measuring the temperature of my basement that it stays a constant 64 degrees almost all year long. So it seemed like the perfect place to try aging some of my favorite imperial stout. I let 1 can age for just 3 months and tried it again and found that the sharp bite of the higher alcohol had mellowed a bit. But I really wanted to see how it would taste after an entire year. So I hid away my last can in the corner of the basement and decided not to touch it until 2009.

Here it is now, 13 months after I bought the beer. It's been sitting in a can for well over a year now and it was time to open it up for a tasting. I put the beer in the fridge for just a little while to cool it down a bit but not too much. Imperial stouts taste better a bit warmer than other beers. It helps bring out the full flavor profile of the beer.

I opened the can and poured the Ten Fidy into a nice pint glass. Almost immediately a huge dark brown head grew on this beer. So much head in fact that I had to wait several minutes for the head to subside so that I could pour the rest of the beer into the glass. Time it seems hadn't dampened it's ability to maintain a decent head. Finally after 3 or 4 minutes I had the entire can emptied into the glass. About a 2 finger head lingered in the glass for what seemed like a long time.

The beer was as black as night and seemed viscous. The aroma was rich with roasted chocolate malts. It's the kind of smell that you just love inhaling over and over. This is one of the reasons I enjoy imperial stouts so much. Time had killed a bit of the alcohol smell but not the malts.

As for the taste, oh my. It still had all of the wonderful roasted goodness as I remembered. There was hints of chocolate, molasses, and licorice in the brew. The sharpness of the high ABV had mellowed a bit but hadn't lessened the overall kick of the beer as you drank it.

It seems that being stored in a can hadn't given this beer any after tastes at all. Plus, absolutely no light had gotten to this beer. That's the plus of storing it in a can. This beer was even better than I remembered. It was definitely worth the wait.

This beer doesn't come cheap. Today's prices for Ten Fidy runs around $14.99 for a 4-pack. I think it's gone up about a $1 since last year. Still, for just over $3 a beer, it's a wonderful drink that I'd gladly pay that much for again.

Sadly, I don't have any more cans of this that I can age further. I'd love to see how this beer stands up to a few more years. I do, however, still have a bottle of North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout aging in the cellar. It's coming up on it's one year aging anniversary, so I should be able to review that one soon.

Have any of you aged Ten Fidy for longer than a year? If you have I'd love to hear about it.

Related articles:
- Original Ten Fidy tasting notes - Feb 2008.
- Beer cellar aging - a short experiment.
- Cellaring notes on North Coast Old Stock Ale 2008.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Imperial Yeti review.

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