We all have that beer in the fridge. It’s been in there for a while, it might even have been in a cooler a few times. It might have spent some time on a shelf. This beer isn’t a dark beer that might benefit from a rest, it’s a lighter beer that we just can’t bring ourself to drink, because at this point we’re convinced it’s going to taste like crap. Well, tonight I drank that beer.
A little backstory… I have a nice stash of craft beer – stouts and porters, sours and saisons – that will be just fine in a year or two. I also have good friends that always seem to have an extra beer or three they want me to try. Finally, I’m a sucker for the next great beer. As a result, my beer fridge fills up fast.
Earlier this summer I decided to drink it down. I’ve been slowly drinking through the pale ales, IPAs and other mismatched beers to pare back the collection. It’s taking me a while because I tend to have some Alchemist Heady Topper on hand and most nights it seems like the right beer to drink. It’s fresh! I can’t be questioned on this choice.
Well, tonight I dug down deep and pulled out that beer, cracked it open and poured it into my trusty glass and… wow. It looked beautiful.
I know… you’re wondering “what is this miraculous looking beer?” And I tell you it’s not just good looking, it’s good tasting too. And it’s something you’ve seen at your local package store for years and years. You may have never tried it.
I remember my first Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout like it was yesterday. That was one of my first real beers, back when nearly no one was brewing real beer for consumers. Sure Sam Adams came along and they “had me at hello,” but Samuel Smith’s lineup was already commanding prime space in the cooler, daring you to give it a try.
Back to that beer. Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale. I have no idea when it was “born.” It might have been adopted from someone else or I might have picked it up in a moment of nostalgia. I do know it’s been in my possession for a long, long time. Years. Several. At least.
It’s been on a shelf. In coolers. Back in a fridge and so on. It’s been abused like a beer should not be. But that’s what makes this beer so special. It’s still awesome.
It pours a deep red color and forms a nice, one to two finger head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. Smells like caramel, subtle malt and dried fruit. The first taste is smooth, with hints of caramel and malt. The hops, if there ever were any, are long gone, but it doesn’t take away from this great tasting beer.
I can’t wait to buy a fresh bottle and give it its proper due. You should too.
Vital Stats: Served at 45F in my trusty tulip glass. 5% ABV (It’s a session beer!!)
Taste: B+. I’m shocked by how little this beer degraded as a result of my mishandling.
Drinkability: A-. It amazed me how drinkable this beer was… almost sessionable.
Packaging: B-. Old school, but lacking vital info and personality