All About Beer Magazine - Volume 35, Issue 6
January 1, 2015 By Patrick Dawson

Thinking about hosting your own vertical tasting?  Here are 25 beers to consider collecting.

Readily Available

rodenbachRodenbach’s Grand Cru: Sweet and fruity initially, but dries out and becomes winelike with time.

Stone Brewing Co.’s Double Bastard Ale: The annual malt-bomb offering is a steal at $8/bomber. While it may not get super complex, it transforms into a smooth, caramel delight.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale: Cellaring brings on sweet, sherry flavors that provide a unique mix with a surprisingly resilient hop presence.

North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Stock Ale: Boozy and hot young, this beer hits its stride at 10 years with notes of amaretto, figs and Madeira.

Founders Brewing Co.’s Backwoods Bastard: Founders’ oak-aged wee heavy needs a few years to allow the layers of smoke, dried fruit, vanilla and spice to all come to the surface.

Worth Seeking Out

Drie-Fonteinen-Oude-GeuzeDeschutes Brewery’s The Abyss: While many strong stouts quickly stale, this rarity ages gracefully. At 4-5 years, the roastedness and booze have melted into Belgian chocolate and raspberries.

Drie Fonteinen’s Oude Geuze: Look for the acidity in this increasingly difficult-to-find beer to soften over time as it dries and becomes champagnelike.

The Boston Beer Co.’s Utopias: Each vintage is a unique blend, making this especially fun to collect. At around 29% ABV, this will age at a crawl.

De Struise Brouwers’ Pannepot: While many of the Trappist Quads dry out considerably, Pannepot retains enough sugars to let the emerging waves of cookies, raisins and vanilla shine.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale: Crafted to last decades, if not centuries. The Eldridge Pope-brewed bottles (’68-’99) are considered masterpieces by those in the know.

Quickest To Mature

orvalFounders Brewing Co.’s Breakfast Stout: Just 12-18 months changes the profile from cold espresso to bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits and vanilla.

Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout: Much like the Founders Breakfast Stout, a year does wonders to mellow the acrid roast of a fresh bottle.

Orval: A honey-tinged hoppy Belgian pale ale when young, a year brings forth Brettanomyces-induced complexities of citrus and earthy must.

Stone Brewing Co.’s Old Guardian Barley Wine: While it has certainly proved to hold up in the cellar, a year brings the hops better into focus while allowing light sweet notes to develop.

Goose Island Beer Co.’s Sofie: Give this chardonnay-barrel-aged saison a year or two for the fruity, winelike esters to reach their epic peak.

Longest Lasting

samichlausDe Dolle Brouwers’ Stille Nacht: After 15 years this powerhouse becomes a delicate sipper of dried apricots, plums, toffee and caramel. And enough residual sugars to last another 15.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Olde School Barleywine: Debuting more than a decade ago, this monstrously strong (15%) and sweet barley wine has the sea rations to last a long time adrift.

Bell’s Brewery’s Expedition Stout: One of the first imperial stouts in America and still the best when it comes to cellar longevity.

Samichlaus: This 14% decoction-mashed bruiser has the malt profile for considerable aging. The Hurlimann’s era bottles (’97 and earlier) are drinking epically right now.

J.W. Lees’ Harvest Ale: The Brits have been aging beers for centuries, and it shows in this classic English barley wine—10-15 years is the sweet spot.

Largest Spectrum

cantillon kriekAlaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter: Over time, this rauchbier transforms from prominently smoky to barley wine-esque at 10 years, with notes of dried fruit, port and molasses.

G. Schneider & Sohn’s Aventinus: Initially wheaty and spicy with banana esters. But the years alter it into a caramel, sherry-soaked beer oozing with a grapelike aroma.

Rochefort Brewery’s Rochefort 10: Like spicy, boozy cola fresh, a few years later it’s a cornucopia of fruits, molasses and vanilla that is one of the best in the world.

Cantillon Brewery’s Kriek: Incredibly sour and cherry-forward out the gates, aging softens the acidity and mellows the cherries to allow about 50 adjectives worth of flavor to emerge.

Goose Island Beer Co.’s Bourbon County Brand Stout: At 14.5%, the beer has copious fusels that need time to meld into the berries, caramel and raisins that make this so special.

Click here to read more about vertical tastings.