Eventually it became a beer style in its own right, and old ale as we know it today is a malt-forward, sweet, complex, dark, often highly alcoholic beer akin to the barely wine and winter warmer styles, and is ideal for ageing. It sometimes surprises people that beer can be drunk a year, two years, ten years, even 25 years after it was brewed, and how good a beer as old as that can taste. Not every beer style is suitable for cellaring, however. Very hoppy beers are best drunk fresh to get the best from the hop flavour which will fade quickly, although there are plenty of beer geeks who are happy to age a beer such as Sierra Nevada Celebration - a very hoppy beer indeed at first, but which can mellow over time into something approaching a barley wine. Cellaring, especially for periods longer than a year, should be done carefully, and maybe that’s a topic we’ll cover another time.
For now though, let’s enjoy these winter and Christmas seasonals while they last. This really is one of the best times of the year for the discerning beer drinker.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson