Brew Review

Craft Beer Poll Results: To Age Or Not to Age? It Depends…

A few weeks ago, I had suggested a poll as to whether or not I should age a bottle of Fuller’s 2010 Vintage Ale or enjoy it now. Suffice it to say, that the majority of our loyal readers suggested that I get off my wallet and purchase another bottle. While I took the suggestion under advisement, our friend, Miracle Max, offered to put this theory to practice. On Saturday, he brought a bottle of the 2009 and the 2011 as well as a number of years of the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot so that G-LO and I might be able to try first hand the merits of aging.

The 2011 Fuller’s was a fresh and refreshing ale with a rose’ color and nice foam and lacing. The aroma was of sweet malt with hints of grapes and raisins. The taste was like a well carbonated wine with a slightly bitter, dry finish. The 2010 was a deeper red with a sweeter, grapier aroma. Still well carbonated, the 2010 had a dryer finish. The 2009 was ruby in color with a much stronger alcohol aroma and hints of vanilla, malt and wine. This vintage was far more full-bodied than the prior two. Overall, G-LO found that he liked the 2011 better as he preferred the fresher taste. Miracle Max and I preferred the 2009 as the flavors had been enhanced over time. Miracle Max remarked that the 2008 (which he had had recently) was even better. I was left a little disappointed with the 2010 (of course, that was my bottle) as it seemed to be in between stages … not quite as fresh as the 2011 and nowhere near as flavorful as the 2009.

As another example of aging, Miracle Max had brought Sierra Nevada Bigfoot bottles from 2006 through 2012. Given the late hour, he had suggested we try the 2006, 2009 and 2012 bottles to once again get an impression of the aging factor. The 2012 was a clear brown with good foam and lacing. The aroma was of pine and hops with a musky flavor and a hoppy, slightly bitter finish. The 2009 was about the same color with the same level of foam of lacing. The aroma was a little sweeter, a little less hoppy with the same hints of pine with a sweeter, slightly less bitter flavor and a smooth finish. The 2006 was a deeper brown with a thicker texture and more mild lacing and foam. The aroma was maltier with hints of musk and raisins and sweeter finish. G-LO once again found the current vintage to be more too his liking. I preferred the 2009 as the bitter hoppiness was a little muted and the sweet malt came to the forefront. Miracle Max favored the 2006 as the aging had really brought out the flavors.

So, what have we learned?

  • Miracle Max really knows his stuff when it comes to aging beer.
  • G-LO probably is not a fan of aging as he clearly prefers the fresher bottles.
  • I understand the merits of aging as the Fuller’s really improved with age. I look forward to tasting the “extra” bottle of the 2010 in 2014.
  • I need to find space somewhere in the house (and hopefully out of sight of the Mrs.) so that I might be able to begin storing beer.

And, as an added extra, Miracle Max left the remaining bottles of the Bigfoot so that our fellow Booze Dancers can sample the aged vintages as well.

15 replies »

  1. Great write-up and beer! Thanks for hosting. I still have many tastings in search of a venue and willing participants; I’ll probably impose again, hopefully soon. We may need to get some of the others to come for the larger samplings. 🙂


    • Max, it was certainly no imposition at all. Any time you want to bring your research on the road, we will make room and offer up our “lab”.


  2. First of all, excellent recap! My apologies for not submitting any detailed tasting notes during our tasting, but thankfully, you summed up my thoughts perfectly. While I certainly enjoyed the older vintages, they lacked the carbonation that I like in my beer. Although I enjoyed the Fuller’s Vintage Ale, I found the 2012 Bigfoot to be more my style. A nice balance of flavors in that beer. I’ll have to have another one soon. You know, for research purposes only.


    • I’m not surprised that you liked the Bigfoot better. The Fuller’s was a little boozy and we know how you feel about boozy. As far as having another Bigfoot soon, I think that could be arranged.


  3. Sounds like a hell of a night! A quick question, does Bigfoot recipe change at all year on year? I know Fullers Vintage is tweaked a bit each year (similar to Anchors Christmas ale) which I always find makes comparisons hard as you can’t get the exact same beer at different ages for comparison and my memory is always a tad hazy after leaving years between tastings. 🙂


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