Thursday, 31 December 2009

A New Year of Beer - Marble Special

So, here we are on the cusp of a new decade, and I find myself at home, making the first post on a new blog. If ever there was a time to visit the cellar and pull out a special bottle, this is it.

And this is literally a Special bottle - in fact, as you can see from the photo, it's a 75cl, cork and cage sealed, wax dipped bottle of Marble Special. There aren't very many of these about, and although I know that this will improve with a year's cellaring, I've decided to bite the bullet and crack it.

Marble have a reputation for doing great things with hops, and accordingly, it's the hops that get you first. But they only lead the way by a fraction, on the nose and the palate, as they are backed up by a huge figgy, rummy malt note. This is a big barley wine with a chewy hop character. In a year, that hop character will have subsided, leaving the malt to dominate. But for tonight, I'm glad that I've committed infanticide on this great bottle of beer.

Marble make great beers, and their devotion to making good bottled beers is such that they can seemingly never meet demand. They are stringent about a long period of warm and then cold conditioning for their bottles. They could produce more, and once their new brewery is bedded in, they almost certainly will. But for now, this bottle of special Special.

I'm pleased I managed to bring myself to open this bottle tonight - it was the right beer for the occasion, with a plate of roast beef sandwiches and an early night on the cards (of necessity, sadly). I've got a lot more special beer down there that I hope to open and share with you. But don't get your hopes up - I'll be drinking it, and sharing my opinions with you.

So if you managed to broach a bottle you've been saving, I'd love to hear about it. And better still, what bottles did you pass over, waiting for a more special occasion? Don't you worry that the Westvleteren you're hoarding will be over the hill by the time you have the courage to open it?


  1. Christmas Eve I did a 2005 Fullers Vintage which was wonderfull.

    New Years Eve I had hoped to get some of the draft Rogue Imperial Stout thats gone on at local beer bar Hashigo Zake but missed out by leaving before it came on tap.

    Good to see the new format, are we still going to get video blogs?

  2. I did drink a fair bit of good stuff over Christmas and NY, and although I'm not one for making resolutions, I want to get out more to drink, and also get stuck into some of the good stuff in the cellar. And paradoxically, drink more ordinary beer too.

    Yes, I've got a video blog ready to go - just need to polish it a bit, and write some blurb. I moved to a "proper" blog to try and make my life a bit more simple on the tech front.

  3. Well, as you know I have a Thomas Hardy 2005 to drink at some point but that's staying on the shelf for the time being (any idea when is best to carefully pop it open?). I've also got the Dark Island Reserve my better half my better bought me for Christmas waiting for my birthday perhaps.

    I have the Marble Decadance which is special but won't be kept and a couple of Fraoch 20th anniversaries that I could do with sharing.

    I'm keen to get to the pub a bit more and ensure we cover all the beers that people are buying on the supermarket shelves as well as the crazy special beers that get saved for those sharing moments or special occasions.

  4. I'd say the THA is ready to go from now to 2015, but I like them young.

  5. I've got the Victory V Saison and Flying Dog Dog Schwartz to chip into at some time (as you know). I'm thinking maybe this time next year - one for Christmas and one for my Birthday.

    As everyone else seems to be saying, getting out to the pub more is definitely on my agenda. I suspect multiple visits to Arcadia in Headingley and The Bay Horse in Meanwood.

  6. I have a lot of time to Reluctant Scooper's maxim "drink it like you stole it", which I take to mean that you shouldn't hoard anything, but just wade in as though it no emotional attachment at all. Cook a nice meal and get stuck in.


Sorry about the word verification - the blog was getting spammed to bits.