On a day that included sweeping out that tracks at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum....
So now to celebrate a wretchedly cold night with a vintage beer: My own 1994 Christmas beer, the last bottle from what was probably my first Christmas homebrew and one of my first beers of all.
Explanation for the bottle: Dusty from 15 years of storage. The green bottle reflects my reuse of what were originally Beck's Beer bottles, re-purposed for reuse by several start-up micros during the1980s, including my first "favorite" micro, Wild Goose in Cambridge. I shifted to brown bottles around the same time they did for the same reasons, but I kept 2-3 cases of green bottles about for quick and handy reuse and giveaway, most typically for "Christmas/holiday" beers. At the time I made this stuff, I was working for a shop that, among other things, had a dot-matrix label-printer for computer chips that they were making, so I had them covertly crank out a sheet bearing the words "1994 XMAS BEER". Those labels went atop the caps.
The beer? Make your predictions, then I'll tell you.
Pours the classic barleywine/Thomas Hardy's color, extra dark red/porter, no head, very low carbonation. Nose of orange peel and exotic spices with a hint of smoke. This was supposed to be a typical Christmas ale, as I recall, probably was a blend of extract and grains, with lots of adjuncts such as honey and spices. None of that has really survived. It's dry and thin, very low mouthfeel, barely even alcoholic tasting. It vaguely starts to remind me of a watered-down Moxie soda, for the one of you reading this that has ever run into that purported soda. The flavors--orange peel bitterness, wood, nutmeg and cinnamon, smoke--are good, but they need some hops and sweetnes to balance. These are the flavors I would want to add to a barleywine to make it complex, not the barleywine itself. Not bad, but definitely aged too long.
Oh, well, we can't win them all.