Vintage Beer — Coopers takes the crown

Q. What’s the difference between ‘luxury’ vintage beer and ‘extra strong’ vintage beer? A. $60.59 a bottle (750ml equivalent). That’s the price gap between recently released Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2009 ($4.70 375ml at Plonk, Fyshwick) and Foster’s Crown Ambassador Reserve 2009 Lager ($69.99 750ml recommended) released on 3 August.

How the two compare I don’t know. I’ve tried the Coopers and it’s terrific – consistent with eight previous vintages. But there’s no Crown sample, no invitation to share the Queen’s bottle – and I’m not crazy enough to spend seventy bucks on a long neck. Can any beer be that good?

Perhaps a cache for the retirement fund? If you’re tempted, remember the ‘collector’ ports of the late seventies. They turned out to be dust collectors.

On value, Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2009 looks the better bet. This is the ninth release. And the older vintages in the Schloss Shanahan cellar still drink well – the fruitiness and bitterness giving way with age to mellow, malt-related caramel flavours.

Foster’s makes pace-setting beers – like Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale and Chloe’s Naked Ale – so Crown Ambassador Lager is a probably a cracker. But at $70, I’m not buying it.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009