A long term relationship

Beer writers often say that a beer is “worth buying by the case” (Tim Webb and Joris Pattyn, we’re looking at you) but, being easily-distracted dilettante bloggers whose favourite beer is always the next one, we’ve tended to mix-and-match, trying to cover as much ground as possible.

Fuller’s Past Masters XX Strong, however, was only available by the case, so we bit the bullet and did it.

A whole box of the same beer? What if, once we tried it, we found ourselves lumbered with eleven bottles we don’t want to drink?

As it happened, although we liked it from the off, we only became more impressed as the beer matured. If we’d based our view on bottle number one, we might have stuck with our cautious thumbs-up and the view that Fuller’s 1845 is a better beer.

A whole case of beer takes the pressure off a little. It gives you the chance to just drink without over-thinking; to see a beer from different angles, at different times; to really get to know it. It also helps avoid Open It syndrome — a cupboard full of beers too precious to drink which are slowly going stale — because, hey, there’s a whole case, so why not have another?

This post is based on a lie: we’ve bought cases of beer for parties loads of times, but as we never got to touch any of that beer, and were just left with empty bottles and boxes, they don’t count.

12 thoughts on “A long term relationship”

  1. I’ve had this happen a few times this year actually and I’d wholeheartedly agree about open it syndrome, I have so many beers waiting to be drunk “at the right moment” or “when I have time to sit, ponder and pull it apart”.

    Oddly the two cases I bought were blind too, based on what the brewer said it was going to be like even before it was finished or anywhere near the bottle. These were Hardknott Vitesse Noir and Summer Wine Brewery’s Cohort. In similar fashion the more I drank Cohort the more I loved it and if I’d been asked at the end of the case rather than the beginning I reckon it would have been my beer of the year in 2011 for sheer drink-ability.

    Taking nothing away from Vitesse Noir as its a fantastic beer but I bought that for very different reasons, to enjoy now for sure, but quite a few to leave for a few years to mature & develop. Some good drinking to be had in times to come for sure.

    I have returned to Cohort for mr by the way as a case wasn’t enough, if you haven’t tried it (or Vitesse Noir) you really should. Cheers

  2. I have given up the ageing idea for beers, mainly after a bottle that was expensive and I kept for 6 months turned out to have gone off when I did open it. If I buy a beer it’s to drink not to a cupboard filler now. I do feel that tasting and reviewing from one bottle or pint isn’t fair to the brewer,often you need a few drinks to really get a good feel for the beer. Ok some beers you won’t get past the half pint mark but others you will.

  3. MFB — Stan “Appellation Beer” Hieronymus
    agrees with you! I think reviewing after one pint is fine as long as
    you don’t make any claims to authority, i.e. on this occasion, it didn’t
    hit the spot.

    Phil — the other way to get a case of beer, of course, is to brew
    your own. We’ve now got seventy bottles of our own lager in the utility
    room with another 30 odd in the pipeline.

    1. I’d love to I really would, it’s definitely in the future plan but sadly space is the issue or lack of it. Maybe good to get a few brew days in somewhere this year.

  4. I’d like to age some beers, but I need to wait until I’m back on the mainland as I don’t think it’ll do the beers good to cross the water twice…and the postage is a killer! I had a beer from 2009 last night and it had all the classic hallmarks of an oxidised beer, but the ABV stood up to it and it was like an oud bruin in taste.

    I do have a few imperial stouts for keeping but I expect they’ll all be drunk in the coming months

  5. I buy the “everyday” beer by the case when we go shopping to the city by car on Fridays. Otherwise, it means going to my favourite bottle shops to buy only three or four bottles at a time because that’s pretty much all I can fit in my rucksack (I haven’t got a drivers license and I doubt the missus would agree to drive my across town to pick a case of whatever), so my chances are rather limited. Most of what I buy at those places is stuff I will drink over the weekend based on the weather and what I think my mood might be. I do buy occasionally a bottle for aging, but not indefinitely I often assign them a specific date.

    The advantage is that I don’t have a very big stash, the disadvantage is that more often than not I postpone buying a great beer I love in order to see what that new beer might be like, though I’m teaching myself to correct that…

  6. Ron — we’ve been topping our case up, Solera style, with new bottles of PMXX. Have a couple of bottles of our case of Double Stout left which (surprise surprise) has now become too special to drink.

    PF — we don’t have a car either but mail order beer has really got its act together in the UK. Fuller’s are especially prompt and efficient.

  7. I think of the bulk buy and aging as separate things. I have about 6 mixed cases of aging beer bought from 2005 onwards. This is kept in the cold room and if any go off (which I have rarely experienced) such is life. I just think it is prudent beer blogging to have a backlog of tales to tell.

    Cases are different. They can tell a story themselves or they can be there for bulk consumption. In 2011, I have 24 Orval bought in late 2010 to go though as a regular tipple. I wanted to not think too much about it and see if I really thought it was moreish when I actually had more. Results were good but I have not bought another case to extend the experiment. On the other hand, I am going through masses of Six Point Bengali Tiger these days bought on short hops over to neighbouring NY. It is cheaper than Canadian craft (2 litres for 9.99 instead of 1299 to 14.99) but it is luscious marmalade with bitter marigold, the taste I wanted in a beer before I every had it. Picked up another 8 litres Friday. Not sure it has aging power. Not sure I could ever control myself to find out.

  8. A symptom of Open It syndrome is *unintentionally* ageing things… deliberately ageing things is, as you say, a whole different ballgame.

  9. OK – I see. But what time frame are you suggesting for the PMXX? A couple of months? I really enjoyed it but, it having traveled by cargo ship to get here, assume these things (unlike me) arrive well matured.

  10. Alan — took us about six months to get through the original case of PMXX. Through the magic of Twitter, John Keeling told us it was at it’s best when we got it, whereas the 2X Stout needed a few months more.

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