I’ve been planning this event for a very long time. As I acquired more large format bottles, the desire to do a tasting like this became greater. I reached out to some people who haven’t had most of the beers I’ve acquired. Some people were strangers and others weren’t. Three months ago, I set a date and we all convened in Central New Hampshire about 2 miles from the Vermont border and had some delicious beers together. This was easily my favorite tasting ever not just because of the awesome bottles shared but because the people in attendance were kind, joyous and just totally relaxed. It was a lot of fun and one that won’t be repeated…until we do it again next Summer with more magnums from farmhouse breweries. Actually, the more that I think about it, I might do a mini-tasting next year and a very large one two years from now to give myself a chance to get some big-guns saved up.
The entire set of photos is on Flickr. Below are just a few choice images:
Someone elsewhere asked for some thoughts on this tasting and the one that occurred on Friday. I put together some notes (lazily) below:
Some thoughts on these beers. All of the HF bottles were from 2014, the Supplication was 062212 batch and the 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze was 2004. So most things were at least 1 year old except for Arthur which was from October.
-Supplication, barely sour at all. It was great. The wine barrel was shining and almost no acetone coming through.
-Ann, Art, Flora: Delicious. All were bright, juicy, fully carbonated and excellent. All resembled their non-wine barrel siblings but with the added pizazz that 12-24 months in a wine barrel with microflora will do to a saison.
-I usually forget how amazing Convivial Suarez and Brother Soigné are with 12 months in the bottle. 12-18 months is a perfect time to open those.
-Barrel Aged Everett, 15 months in the bottle after 24 months in bourbon barrels. Excellent. This beer is perfect right now. Drink up!
-3F 2004 Oude Gueuze, Fully carbonated, very cheesy, not incredibly sour. I’m the 3rd owner of this bottle and am very thrilled it held up. The cork shot about 40+ feet in the air.
-2007 (2012 bottle date) Bzart Oude Gueuze, I have another one of these and I’m going to keep it at least 5 more years. This beer is great but can use a lot more age.
-Jester King Equipose – I liked this. Soft, drinkable, probably some aging potential but great now. A bit too salty for me.
Everything else (normal bottles) – 2014 Vintage Biere de Norma, exceptional out of the gate and getting better. Will try again in 12 months.
-2 year old Sankt Hans, Flawless, no signs of oxidation.
-Fantasia and the HF pale ales in growlers were great palate cleansers
-Night Shift El Lechedor (bourbon & apple brandy) stole the show as we tried to get rid of bottles around 9PM. These were exceptional dark beers. I’d love a case of each but apple brandy was just slightly better than bourbon
-SP Saison du Ble, carbonation was excellent, funky with a crap load of chardonnay coming through. this was the november bottling.
-Lambickstoemper’s, thin, water, cheesy, a great Gueuze but needs another year or two in the bottle to fully realize it’s potential mouthfeel.
-Civil Dis 14, going to be great in a year. I’m not happy with where carbonation is now but the flavor is excellent.
Final Thoughts: Since HF’s bottling line doesn’t support magnums (I presume this is the case), most of these were hand-bottled with liquid all the way up to the cap. Zero head space. The caps on the magnums and the $30+ HF saisons have a new cap that reduces oxygen even more than regular bottlings. I imagine magnums from Hill can be kept for 2-3 years longer than the 750ML brothers and still be zero oxidized. magnums are great for 10-12 people as everyone can get a 4 ounce pour no problem. 3-liters posed an issue as we all had to get 12+ ounces per person it seemed or at least I had 20 ounces of Supplication myself just to make sure the beer didn’t go to waste. 3Ls should be a 20+ person event minimum. They’re so huge. I have 8 personal magnums that weren’t offered to this tasting as I want to age them a bit longer. I’m always ISO magnums and 3 liters of beers that will age beautifully and plan on repeating this event next year. Keep an eye on my blog for an announcement and anyone with large bottles are welcome to join in the fun.