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?