I decided to stop in at Grand Cru Wine and Spirits because I was in the area. If you have not been there, it's cool little shop with a friendly staff. They selection is small, but they make up for it in quality. Plus they sell singles, which saves me the expense of buying an entire six pack. I saw that they had bottles of Squall IPA and decided to grab one. The clerk then recommended that the beer be cellared for a few months before opening. You can imagine my reaction. To a hop head, aging a Double IPA is unheard of!
"No way- with IPAs, the fresher the better!" I replied. She then told me that there was a notice from Dogfish Head inside the case, recommending that this beer be stored for a few months before consuming. I was perplexed and felt like a douche at the same time. Certainly the brewery would not release a beer before it was properly conditioned in the bottle. Or would they?
I left the store with my Squall IPA, New Belgium Frambozen, and Sam Adams Wee Heavy. While driving home, I realized that I probably came across as a self-righteous beer snob. If I did, my apologies go out to that employee. I get rather passionate about my hoppy beers and I don't like seeing them sold or consumed past their prime. But I still wanted to know what the heck that note was about . As soon as I arrived home, I raced to the laptop to seek the advice of the fellow hopheads on our Facebook group. Their conclusion was what I was thinking all along...open the darn thing and find out.
The clerk and Dogfish Head were correct. Technically, this beer was not ready to open as bottle conditioning was not complete. However, my home does not have style guidelines. There is an overwhelming consesus among craft beer enthusiasts that hoppy beers are best consumed fresh, because bitterness fades with each passing day. So what should you do?
- If you want more balance between the malt and hop flavors, along with proper carbonation- give this beer some more time in the bottle. You'll sacrifice SOME bitterness, but will get more toffee and caramel malt notes in return. Two months may be pushing it- I say split the difference
- If you enjoy aggressive or bold bitterness, don't mind softer carbonation, and are willing to sacrifice some appearance- Drink it now. Sometimes it's ok to ignore brewer intent
This will be the last post before the East Nashville Beer Festival. As I predicted in several posts- it sold out. I hope you all bought tickets. I will be a wearing a shirt that reads "If it's not craft, it's crap." Come up and say hi and share a beer. I enjoy meeting other craft beer enthusiasts