As a New Year’s Eve treat, I cracked open the very last bottle I had of Hump’s Full Moon Stout. This bottle was a little over 2 years old. The beer was brewed as an Imperial Stout featuring continuous hopping (or close to it – hop additions every 5 minutes for an hour) and Rogue’s Pacman Yeast.

It had aged very well. The strength in alcohol (just over 8 percent) was well-hidden, with a slight warming in the finish being the only give-away indicator. The body was very full, but tasted pleasant. After it was first brewed, it tasted awesome. But its high finishing gravity made it a little bit too heavy. With this amount of age on the beer, the full body was pleasant and not too heavy. The other flavors have melded amazingly well, and the full body just makes it feel hearty and perfect for a cold winter’s night (not that it ever gets that cold here, but…).

Even after two years, there was a perceptible hop flavor and a decently balancing hop bitterness. Often volatile compounds that create hop flavor and aroma are driven off just from a year of aging, and bitterness also declines with lengthy aging. In the case of this beer, they simply smoothed the beer out.

All in all, an amazing end to this recipe. I’m quite happy that this beer turned out so nicely. I’m excited at the prospects of making an Imperial Stout using only grain and no extract. But first, I’ll be cooking up a sweet stout flavored with maple sugar and beechwood-smoked barley malt. I think this combination of flavors should make for a great winter beer.

Speaking of recent/upcoming brews, this year’s Holiday Lager has turned out decent, but it is still pretty green right now. I wish I had thought about making this beer earlier, because I think it will really need at least a month – perhaps three – of lagering. It’s in the fridge now, aging in the keg. I’ve had a few samples of it over the past few weeks, and it is pleasant. But it definitely tastes young.

Tonight we’ll be having a Lindeman’s Pêche for our New Year’s toast. My wife is pregnant, and my son is about to turn four – so I’ll be having most of the bottle all to myself. At least I’ll sleep well…