Where vintage wines reflect seasonal variations on grape flavour, a vintage date on a beer signals the brewer’s intent to give us a robust, age-worthy brew rather than seasonal flavour impact.
And the difference in flavours between vintage beers reflects the brewer’s imagination and ingredient selection rather than, say, the regional differences that we might see in wine.
The Cooper’s and Matilda Bay 2007 vintage ales reviewed this week and last illustrate the impact that brewing decisions makes on the beers we drink.
Cooper’s opts for a high-alcohol (7.5 per cent) all-barley beer. The result is an opulent, rounded beer with heady fruit-like esters. To keep these in check the brewers create countering herbal aromas, flavours and bitterness with a liberal addition of hops.
The less alcoholic Matilda Bay, by using wheat malt as well as barley, has a drier, less rounded palate, more apparent fruitiness and the distinctive acidity of wheat ales.
Matilda Bay Grayston Reserve 07 750ml $17
Brad Rogers’s second vintage ale is bottle-conditioned and built to last. It’s a wheat ale combining five different barley and wheat malts. The combination gives Grayston a rich, chocolate-like flavour. But the wheat components add a spiciness and lift to the estery, fruity aroma and a vibrance and crisp acidity to the palate.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007