This has been a pretty momentous week for me, our first grand-child was born on Friday October 3rd, at 5:15pm!
I had worked from home that day; I had attended a conference call, written up notes from two other calls and spent six hours slaving over a hot spreadsheet. At about five I decided that I deserved a beer and as I was heading down to The Curlew I received the call that little’un had arrived so, needless to say, I wet the baby’s head with a pint (or two) of my usual.
However, this was a pretty significant moment and deserved a more serious drink, and I knew just what was needed – you just know there’s a story coming don’t you?
About twenty years ago my son, now the proud father, was working at our local brewery – Crouch Vale. In those days it was pretty much a two men and a dog operation, and Gaz was the dog. He did manage to inadvertently ‘invent’ one of their brews, but that’s a story for another day. While at Crouch Vale, he invested in a case of Thomas Hardy Ale – the 1985 vintage – brewed in those days by Eldridge Pope. Thomas Hardy Ale is legendary for being bottle conditioned and primed to continue maturing, it is said to be best after twenty years of maturation, but forty year old bottles can be found.
The case has been stored in my garage, and while we tried a bottle about ten years ago, after discussion with the proud father we agreed that the arrival of his first-born was a good justification for breaking open a bottle or two!
So with due reverence and a steady hand I opened the bottle and carefully poured it into a goblet. An ale like this should be treated with respect. This was bottle M51919, and I put another bottle alongside the glass for the photograph.
As you can hopefully see the beer is a dark ruby colour, with no noticeable head, and no lacing on the glass. The nose was closer to a sherry than any beer I’ve tasted, this is beyond beer, this is where beer goes when it has a chance to grow up. The flavour itself is again close to sherry, rich and vinous, with nothing to betray its humble hops and barley origins. As you might expect, there’s a full mouth experience and a distinct warming as you finally swallow.
As for the strength, I estimate this coming in in the upper teens, maybe 16-18% alcohol, very waming. And yes after a full 6.34oz of the ale I knew I’d had a drink!
All in all an interesting experience, I just hope we can save a few bottles for young Kelin’s coming of age!
Bob the Brit