Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nick's 10-Hour Beer Tasting

The Beer CellarI had the big fortune to be invited to a special event last week in honor of Nick Castiglione's birthday. Nick is the beer expert from Loveland's LiquorMax. Nick may only be in his mid 20's but already he has amassed a vast knowledge of the beer world and that became quite evident at the party he threw for beer geeks and friends alike. A small gathering of 30 or more people were offered a special chance to peak inside the world of one man's personal beer collection.

I can honestly say that I have never seen such a fine grouping of aged beers in my life. Nick was kind enough to open up much of his personal collection and help many of us get introduced to a wide variety of rare and hard to get beers from all over the world. There were many of Colorado's BeerAdvocate members in attendance as well as a few special guests including some local brewers, bloggers and the guys from BeerTapTV.

Immediately upon entering the party, guests were given a formal sheet listing the selections that were to be opened during the evening. Every room in Nick's house was filled with a different theme selection of beers. The dining room had a collection of dark beers, the kitchen became the Room of Hops, the living room was the Belgian Ale room, the front entryway and hall had two tapped kegs, the basement rec room became the German Beer, Barleywine and Old Ale room.

And finally, the Cellar itself. Oh my. That was a site to behold. The cellar contained a vast collection of some of the worlds best beers that I've ever seen. You could tell that Nick was a huge fan of dark and hard to get beers. My jaw dropped in awe at his collection. Most of the beers offered were at least 8% ABV and many were well over 10% ABV so we all knew we'd have to pace ourselves.

While Nick didn't charge admission to his party, you couldn't help but want to donate to his cause. There was a lot of expensive beers being opened during the 10-hour event. And as an added bonus, every 20 minutes, Nick would open up a special bottle of some of his best beers. Every time I turned around there was something new being opened and shared. It was a magnificent treat! I couldn't imagine having the willpower to be able to hide away all those beers for so many years.

Nick CastiglioneI counted the number of different beers listed on his beer list and there was literally 111 different beers available! Some of his cellared beers were dated back to 1994. I could actually compare how well a 2004 version of a beer held up to a 2008 version of the very same beer.

The following is just an example of the beers that I was able to taste that evening:

Bell's Expedition Stout 2006
Goose Island Bourbon Country Stout 2008
Lost Abbey Serpents Stout 2008
Des Rocs Grand Cru 2005 (Belgium) on tap
Russian River Damnation
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale 2008 (Belgium)
Oggi's Hop Juice
Great Divide Hibernation 2007
Thomas Hardy's Ale 1994
Avery The Beast 2004 (1st bottling)
Michigan Brewing Imperial Stout
Struise Pannepot Reserva 2005
Southampton Publick House 10th Anniv. Old Ale 2006
Hoppin Frog BORIS the Crusher Imperial Stout 2006
New Belgium La Folie 2005
Firestone Walker 12
Nogne O Dark Horizon 1st Edition

A collection of Three Floyds Dark LordI'm just skimming the surface. Nick even had some Three Floyd's Dark Lord from each year dating back to 2004. There were bottles of Alaskan Smoked Porter from each year going back to 2005. The list went on and on. I was having a difficult time trying to cleanse my palate, drink a ton of water and eat a lot of food just to keep myself from being overwhelmed from all that beer. Luckily for me, I brought a small tasting glass and limited myself to just 2oz pours.

It was certainly a night to remember and a beer geek's dream come true! My only regret was not being able to stay the entire evening. There were so many great beers yet to taste but I had reached my limit early on and needed to avoid getting tipsy.

A big thanks to Nick and his wife for hosting this wonderful event. Hopefully, I'll be invited back again sometime for another event like this.

Beer Cellar Collection

Related articles:
- Beer cellaring - a short experiment.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout review.
- Denver Rare Beer Tasting event announced.

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