Cooper’s Vintage Ale 2007 hit retail shelves recently, prompting a call to brewer, John Hood to find out what makes ‘vintage’ beer age-worthy.
The biggest element, said John, is the bottle conditioning process – where a secondary fermentation produces carbon dioxide and absorbs oxygen. This in turn reduces oxidation of the beer.
Subsequently the high alcohol, opulent malt flavours and assertive hopping tend to mask oxidative character that might show more in a lighter beer.
John says that successive vintage have taught the brewers that some things seem to work better than others.
For example, all that alcohol and body requires a counterfoil. Robust hops treatment provides bitterness to balance the malt sweetness and a pungent aroma to match the fruity esters.
Vintage 2007 has a little more crystal malt for its red hue and caramel/toffee flavour as well as increased hopping to increase the bitterness – as this tends to decline with age.
Cooper’s Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2007 $375ml $3.75
The family resemblance between Cooper’s 2006 and 2007 ales is a high 7.5 per cent alcohol and robust malt and hops flavours. But a year’s bottle age sees the 2006’s flavour balance shifting towards sweet, toffee-like malt and away from hops. The ultra-fresh 2007 still delivers both in abundance – and harmony.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007