I decided to try the first of the four "aged homebrews" I found in my cellar a couple of weeks ago. This was my first attempt at an Irish Red ale and I recall it turned out OK - too dark and astringent, but with some nice fruit esters. This batch was brewed approximately two and half years ago.
Appearance - very dark opaque brown, some ruby highlights in the light. Originally, this beer turned out darker than I was aiming for, but it is even darker now than I remember it. Pours with a nice tan head that dissipates pretty quickly, leaving a thin layer of foam that persists while drinking.
Aroma - all malt, chocolate, toffee, a little roast. Definitely some oxidized vinous aroma there too.
Taste - follows the aroma - sweet malt, caramel-toffee, with chocolate and roast undertones. There is a decent amount of bitterness still in it. Not sure if it is from the hops or the roasted malt or both, but there is enough there to cut balance the malt a little. There's a lingering astringency that I remember being there when I first brewed it - in fact, as I drink more of it, the more I get that astringency - like over-steeped tea. It definitely detracts from the beer, which otherwise is quite nice even at two and half years old. I don't taste the "cardboard" that is usually associated with oxidization, but I definitely taste something there that I assume is oxidation - it tastes "old" if that makes any sense. Maybe "musty", but that sounds too unsavory a description for this flavor - it doesn't really taste bad at all. Hard to explain. Maybe most surprising to me is how clean the beer still is - no sourness, no funk. My sanitation practices must have been pretty good.
Mouthfeel - low carbonation, as was originally intended, but maybe lower still than it once was. Creamy and full. The overall full body goes nicely with the rich, dark flavors.
Overall - honestly, I'm astounded that this beer held up as good as it did. I'm a little bummed that this is the last bottle. I definitely would drink more of it, though probably not more than one in a session. I wish I had tasting notes from when it was young to compare to, but I remember it being lighter, more fruity and not nearly as creamy and chocolatey. It has moved more into a brown ale/porter category now. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this beer!
For those interested, here's the basic recipe for the original beer:
Irish-ish Red Ale
62% Maris Otter
4% Crystal 40L
4% Crystal 120L
4% Roast barley
26% Extra Light DME
Challenger hops @ 60min
WLP004 Irish Ale yeast