The second post ever on It's Pub Night was a report on a five-year vertical of Deschutes Jubelale. I fell in love with that beer during our first winter in Portland in 2003, and started a project to build a ladder of Jubelale vintages by stashing a case in the basement each year. It's a fun idea, but it's not a beer that changes all that much from year to year. I kind of wore out my friends with a few years of ritualized vertical tastings, so the collection got less and less interesting to me over time. A couple years ago I cut back to just saving a 12-pack each year, and this year I don't anticipate keeping any. I still love the beer, I just plan to enjoy it fresh from here on.
This year seemed an appropriate moment to let it go, because I still had two bottles left of that original 2003 case, so I could hold a ten-year vertical as a last hurrah. The good gentlemen at The Beermongers allowed me to cart in my dusty bottles for an afternoon tasting with a posse of Portland beer geeks and random passers-by. We had a nice time, and it was interesting to get everyone's take on the various years. Jeff Alworth has already written a very insightful blog post about the tasting, with lots of details it didn't even occur to me to take note of, like the clarity of various vintages, and a quick chemistry lesson on cellaring beer. Go read his article.
I asked people to vote on their three favorite years. The results were not exactly what I expected. For a few years I've been trumpeting the idea that if you're going to age beer, two years is the best amount of time -- long enough to let the flavors mingle and mutate, but not long enough for the beer to spoil. In the vote at our tasting, the 2- and 3-year-old vintages (2010 and 2009) were well respected, but it was the 4- and 5-year-old 2008 and 2007 bottles that were the big hits. This was not a blind tasting, so there is probably some bias here based on people's expectations of the various years. Here are the results of the poll -- for the final score I awarded 3 points for a 1st place vote, 2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd.
|Year||1st place||2nd place||3rd place||Score|
The 2008 had more fans -- 7 of us found it a favorite -- but the 2007 had only first-place votes. Isn't that kind of weird? People who liked that year really liked it. Interestingly, that was the new vintage when I wrote up my 5-year vertical, and at the time I wrote that it seemed like the best batch since the 2003. I cracked a bottle tonight as I'm writing this, and it is perfectly clear, but a little too oxidized for my tastes. The bottles I have from 2004 have never been good, I don't know if that was a bad year or if I just got a damaged case.
One unexpected windfall of the tasting was that three people -- Jeff, Jim, and Wallace -- contributed 12-ounce bottles of Jubel 2000. Yes, we had three bottles of Jubel 2000 at this tasting. That's not the 2000 vintage of Jubelale, it's the Double Jubel that Deschutes makes a batch of every year, but only bottles every 10 years. I did not have very high hopes for 12-year-old bottles of beer, but it was actually in very good shape. There was of course a little oxidation, and a little rich soy-sauce taste, but it was a very tasty, malty, big beer. Several people noted differences between the three bottles -- not too surprising given their age -- but I thought they were more alike than different. (For a better review of the bottles we opened, read Brian's Jubel 2000 review on Beer Advocate.) A big thank you to those guys for bringing a beer that I never expected to get a taste of, let alone three tastes of.
So we had a 10-year vertical of Jubelale, a 3-bottle horizontal of Jubel 2000, and I also opened a bomber of Jubel 2010 to compare with the Jubel 2000. To be honest, I liked the Jubel 2010 when it was fresh, but bottles I've opened over the last couple years have disappointed me. At the tasting, however, it was delicious. Perhaps it was the good company, or maybe it is now coming into its own. Given the longevity of J2K, I think I'll hold my last Jubel 2010 bottle for a while. A few people cast their votes for the big Jubels: Jubel 2000 got 7 points (1 1st, 2 2nds, 2 3rds), and Jubel 2010 got one 2nd-place vote for 2 points.
I can't think of a better way to end a tradition than to share it with a group of friends. It was a great way to end an era, my thanks to everyone who was there.