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Monday, December 24, 2012

Ghost Beer

It began as traditions do, unintentionally, with an ill-defined start date.  The tasting of aged beers over a small (select one as fits your tastes: Christmas, solstice, winter, maybe-we-should-call-it Festivus) party.  Originally I used it as an excuse to raid my own larder, but this year, others brought rarities.  One friend has a batch of Jubel 2000s and gifted one.  I have another friend who, knowing he won't actually be able to leave his own beer alone, gives me some to cellar for him.  And the big treat was a ghost from the past: Roots Epic, vintage 2008 (the fourth in the five-year series--thanks, professor, for the generosity).  Roots died a couple years back and there was no 2010 vintage.  The brewery lives on, for a time, in these last bottles.  (Jason McAdam, one of the two men behind Roots, carries on at Burnside, which is some consolation.)

Epic, you'll recall...

is a truly hand-made beer. The long process begins when [owner] Craig [Nicholls] smokes a small proportion of Munich malt (small by percentage, but 55 pounds in total) over cherry wood that has been soaked in Glenlivet, cognac, and cherries. The final beer finishes out somewhere around 14%.
At first release, Epic is overly sweet.  I once asked Craig when he thought the beer achieved maturity and he guessed five years.  The '08 was just about in its prime then.  If you follow the link above, you'll find my notes on a flight of beers from the release of the last one, in 2009.  I called the '08 the "sweetest of all the vintages."  No more.  The bottle we sampled had become smoky and chocolatey.  There's no point in discussing it in too much depth--you won't be able to get a bottle, anyway.  It was an exceptional treat to end the year, but bittersweet.  Wherever you are, Craig, I hope all is well.

Craig (r) and I from 2009.  More pics here.

1 comment:

  1. I've never tasted that beer...sounds like quite a treat. Craig did a lot of great stuff over the years, and not just at Roots. I can still recall his time up at Alameda, where he made many interesting beers with unusual, typically organic ingredients. Craig told me a while ago that he maintains ownership of the Roots brands and would start brewing for distribution at some point. It hasn't happened. Perhaps the brewery consultant gig is going so well that he doesn't have time.