11 Oct 2010

Good Vintage

Last summer I had the pleasure to meet Edgar, a friend from Barcelona, who was here on a visit with his girlfriend and one of his mates. We had agreed I would pick them up at their hotel to take them to Nusle for some lunch. Needless to say, we had a great time.

Besides been a big beer enthusiast, Edgar is a sommelier at a very well regarded restaurant in Barcelona. But he's not your usual sommelier, he is in charge of the restaurant's beer list. During the meal (and the several beers we had for dessert) we spoke a lot about his job. Edgar told me the beer list is quite successful and that there are more and more people who are beginning to realise what many of us have known for some time, beers usually offer better value for money than wines.

While he was telling me about all that, I couldn't help but think how many restaurants in the whole of the Czech Rep. offer something similar. Only one, that I know of. It might be hard to believe, but at the same time, hardly surprising when you consider that the domestic food gurus will choose something like Stella Artois as the headline beer of their annual event. But well, let's leave that for another time, today I want to talk about something far more pleasant.

Edgar didn't come empty handed. He brought me three different beers: Guineu Coaner, which was every bit as good as the first time I drunk it, though a bit gassier; one from Ales Agullos that is still waiting for its moment and Fuller's Vintage Ale 2009.

If you'd asked people here, most would tell you that the weather we had in September was on the wrong side of rubbish, grey, wet and too cold for the season. To me, on the other hand, it was great. The perfect weather to start drinking certain kinds of beer. Those that are more filling, warmer, with less hops and more malt, more comforting than refreshing. On paper, Fuller's Vintage Ale looked like a perfect example of all that.
And it is spectacular. Simply excellent. I enjoyed every sip, every drop. One of the things I liked the most about it is that the reaction was more "Hmmmmmm!" than "WOW!". Everything in it is comforting and relaxing. Its nose that reminded me of cherries soaked in rum, backed by some caramel notes; its silky body that massages your mouth; its complex flavours that start syrupy and when they are just about to become sickly, turn burnt sugar-like dry with a touch of spice, only to become more like those cherries in rum of the nose, everything sprinkled with touches of dried or baked fruit. It left me with a very pleasant and warm feeling, partly because of the 8.5%ABV. Yes, it does demand a lot of your attention, but it knows how to reward it. A very elegantly bottled treat. I had only one problem with it, though, that was my only bottle.

Thanks, Edgar. Thanks very much for this beauty.

Na Zdraví!

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3 comments:

  1. oo-er missus! I have three bottles of that sat in the cellar, I may crack one open for my birthday!!

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  2. I like 1845, 6.3 abv, tastes like Christmas Cake !. Great Fullers Bar in Birmingham. " Old Joint Stock ", used to be Old Theatre, well worth a visit. Has Full Fullers Range.

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  3. It's a fantastic beer (every vintage I've had has been great). I always have a bottle at Paddington Station on the way back to the west of England for Christmas -- the perfect start to the festivities!

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