Rare, unusual, and carefully aged beers
BROOKLYN MONSTER ALE 2010
New York, 10.1% alc./vol.
Style: Barley wine
No longer in production, this lively barley wine brewed under the watchful eye of master brewer and beer author Garret Oliver is an accomplishment to be savoured with every sip. A complex nose of toffee and citrus announces the arrival on the palate of a medium-bodied, warm and leafy hop body that stays on the sweeter side and finishes milder than its high alcohol content would suggest.
DIEU DU CIEL! SOLSTICE D’HIVER 2015
Québec, 10.2% alc./vol.
Style: Barley wine
Leave it to the Rain Men over at Montreal’s magical brewpub to come up with a beer that breaks the rules for a style that some say has no rules. This winter seasonal is aged at the brewery for up to five months simply to give the massive hop hurricane a time to calm down. Once bottled, the resulting beer still has a strong bitterness, tempered by burnt caramel and dried fruits.
RENAISSANCE TRIBUTE BARLEY WINE 2012
New Zealand, 10.8% alc./vol.
Style: Barley wine
This supersmooth barley wine is a great way to finish a night. Save all your ports and grappas for a restaurant that doesn’t have the word “beer” in its name. This is the stuff. Sweet and replete with notes of honey and figs, Renaissance Brewing has proved again that the New Zealand beer scene is filled with amazing strong stuff if you know where to look.
FRAMBOISE BOON 2012
Belgium, 5% alc./vol.
Style: Lambic, fruit
A full 25% of the volume of this refreshingly sour beer was once fresh, whole raspberries. Added to young lambic produced in the town for which the style is named (Lembeek, Belgium), the berries help spark a fermentation that eventually consumes almost the entire fruit. Blended with old, tart lambic, the final product pours out like a glass of garnet and tastes like a bright cascade of the mostly sour, slightly sweet and then faintly bitter aspects of raspberry.
GOUDEN CAROLUS CUVÉE VAN DE KEIZER BLAUW 2014
Belgium, 9.1% alc./vol.
Style: Belgian strong ale
Considered one of the finest beers in the world by not just the faceless crowds of critics that get paid to drink and judge, but also by a couple of people that work here who actually do have faces. This big corked bottle is simply a masterpiece of brewing. So wine-like that some of your amateur sommelier pals might not believe that there isn’t a single grape in the entire sweet, rich, and lovingly complex batch. Seriously, some folks have no problem plunking down three times as much for a bottle of moderately crappy wine. How about this: save your money for Christmas presents and enjoy a wine-sized bottle of maybe the best thing ever.
DE RANKE HOP HARVEST 2014
Belgium, 5.5% alc./vol.
Style: Belgian pale ale
De Ranke produces this beer once a year by taking a Belgian golden ale and adding an enormous amount of hops fresh from the field. This ancient technique, now known as “wet hopping”, transfers to beer much of the volatile oils and aromas usually lost when processing hops into pellets. In what has now become an annual event, when Hop Harvest was first produced in 2010 the wet hopping stunk up the entire village of Dottignies for two days. Well it was worth it. Smell and savor this beer style that’s so old it’s new again, and you’ll come to understand just why some Belgians carry such an enormous chip on their shoulders when people say hoppy beers aren’t a part of their tradition.
FULLER’S VINTAGE ALES
England, 8.5% alc./vol.
Style: English Strong Ale
Since 1997, the storied London brewery Fuller’s has produced an annual vintage ale. Their intent has been to brew a strong English ale with the finest old-world hops and malts of the season to create a beer that develops with age, replete with all the boozy fruit notes and aromas that define the style. We’ve been cellaring their beers since we’ve opened, and hope to keep doing it until the end of time. If you’re looking for the best day ever, grab some friends and try a vertical tasting of all the vintages we have left.
2006: Super Styrian hops and floor malted barley. Only 100,000 bottles produced.
2007: 10th Anniversary edition, we’re carrying some of the lower range of these individually numbered bottles (3000s out of 150,000 produced). Fuggles, Target and Super Styrian hops.
2008: Northdown and Challenger hops, floor malted Maris Otter malt.
2009: Kent-grown Golding hops and East Anglican Tipple malted barley.
2010: Only 125,000 bottles produced. Expected by the brewer to age into a “Classic Vintage”. Goldings and Fuggle hops, Dry-hopped with Golding and Target hops, Tipple malted barley.
2011: Goldings, Organic First Gold and Sovereign hops; organic barley.
2012: Goldings, Soverign and Target hops; family-grown organic barley.
2014: English Goldings hops alongside American Liberty and Cascade.
PANIL BARRIQUÉE 2007
Italy, 6.5% alc./vol.
Style: Flemish sour ale
Our latest experiment in ageing sour ales is this prized Italian beer that’s been sitting at 10°C for the better part of a decade. Panil Birra Artigianale produces two versions of this ale: one for export to North America, and one domestic. This is the true Italian version. Of the three fermentations this beer goes through, it is the second—a three-month maturation in cognac barrels from Bordeaux—that bestows upon it an earthy, sour body with true depth of character. Cellaring has brought the spirituous woody notes straight up to the forefront in astonishing fashion, while the sour aspect has maintained at a constant relative mildness. The result is a sipping sour with fruit, funk and spice.
STRUISE PANNEPOT GRAND RESERVA 2005
Belgium, 10% alc./vol.
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
This small family company recently sprouted from nowhere to become one of the most highly sought-after brewers in the international craft market, and their Pannepot Grand Reserva is a perfect example as to why. Dark, spicy and complex, this beer drinks somewhere between a strong Trappist ale and a steak dinner. Brewed with spices, aged for 14 months in French oak and then a further 8 months in reclaimed Calvados casks; the combination of all these courageous techniques has produced an outstanding piece of brewing.
Austria, 14% alc./vol.
When the original Swiss brewer of Samichlaus stopped producing this winter seasonal in 1997, it was thought that the world’s strongest lager would sadly become the stuff of distant memories and increasingly dwindling cellar supplies. But the spirit of Christmas was resurrected in 2000 by the Castle Eggenberg Brewery in Austria, and it is a miracle to behold. Brewed on only a single day of the year and aged for ten months prior to bottling, this beer is a hearth for the heart, with strong alcohol warmth floating atop a body of cherry brandy, apricots and raisins.
RODENBACH VINTAGE 2012
Belgium, 7% alc./vol.
Style: Flemish sour ale
Travelling this deep into the menu can yield huge rewards. So don’t tell anyone else, but here’s a hidden gem. Rodenbach Grand Cru (currently pouring from our taps....holy hell) is a blend of two versions of the same beer: A young, sweet version, and a 2 year-old oak-aged version that’s been allowed to sour. This bottle is just the old stuff, from what the master brewers have judged to be the best barrel of the year. 2012 was a good year. Ripe with balsamic vinegar notes, a good balancing sweetness and hints of trail mix.
LE TROU DU DIABLE L’IMPÉRATRICE SPECIAL EDITION
Québec, 10% alc./vol. $37.83/750 ml
Style: Imperial stout
“The Empress” is an Imperial stout aged for three to six months in American Bourbon casks, and it’s one of the boozier tasting bottles we’ve got, not that that’s a bad thing. The coffee, chocolate and fig notes that form the strong stout base of this beer are transformed into something otherworldly with conditioning. Vanilla, caramel, toasted wood and hot alcohol heat are very much at home here in this aggressively foamy beer, and while it’s big enough to share, we’ll understand if you want to keep it to yourself.
UNIBROUE 17 GRANDE RÉSERVE 2014
Québec, 10% alc./vol. $28.32/750 ml
Style: Belgian strong ale
In 2007, Unibroue produced the final of their numbered anniversary beers with #17, which was promptly named “the world’s best dark ale” at the UK World Brewing Awards. So why’d they pull a Michael Jordan and retire when they were on top? We don’t know. But the good news is that they’ve now pulled a Michael Jordan and decided to flog this recipe until the end of time. Presenting Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve: aged on French oak and bottle-conditioned, this beer is an intense malt experience with highlights of mocha and cocoa and a distinct woody finish.
CHIMAY GRAND RÉSERVE MAGNUM 2012
Belgium, 9% alc./vol., 1.5 L
Style: Belgian Strong Ale (Trappist)
This is the strongest and maltiest ale from the Trappist monastery brewery, Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Scourmont. Known as Chimay Blue when served in less comically large bottles, it’s roundly spicy and winy in character and only getting smoother with age.
BALADIN XYAUYÙ, COPPER LABEL 2007
Italy, 14.5% alc./vol., $20/1.5 oz
Xyauyù (which as far as we can tell is pronounced X-shi-eye-you) has been produced as an homage to purposefully oxidized wines like Madiera. It takes about two entire years to get from boil to bottle, resulting in a still, slick and vinous sip, drinking with the body of an icewine. Prepare yourself for a concentrated blast of raisin, apricot, port and a little bit of smoke. So rich and rare, we only sell it by the shot.
Our cellaring program
A few select beers show huge improvement after spending some years in the bottle. Beer with active yeasts, high alcohol content and sometimes high sugar or acidity are the best candidates to experiment with. Flavours can evolve, combine and soften to create a sublime drinking experience. Some brewers even insist that their beers best not be touched until they've had time to mature. We've been carefully ageing chosen bottles in our 12°C cellar for over the last ten years, and are pretty pleased with the results. Here is our current selection from the cellar: each one a sought-after rarity. Please come visit us to try one of these special bottles.