I forgot to mention that, with dinner tonight I drank a bottle of Leireken Buckwheat Bruin.
I’d received this bottle more than a year ago, but hustled it into the fridge only a couple of weeks ago after realizing that it was leaking, making a small sticky puddle on the floor of my bar.
A lesser drinker might have tossed the bottle away—but I suspected that it was continuing to ferment in the bottle, and would be tastier now than before. I seemed to remember that the beer was on lees (yeast added in the bottle), so it would continue to change and perhaps even improve over time.
Nonetheless, it was with some trepidation that I opened the bottle tonight. I sniffed: nothing off, nothing terrible. I poured: quite bubbly, suggesting that in fact it had continued to ferment, and it was the pressure from the carbon dioxide that forced liquid out past the cork, which had been seated quite firmly in place.
In the glass, I saw lots of carbonation, tiny little bubbles fizzing up a storm in the rich, nearly opaque reddish-brown beer. I smelled again: rich and sweet, with maybe a hint of alcohol. And I tasted.
Tasting the beer made me wish that I’d taken tasting notes the first time. I’d remembered the last bottle I had as sharp and aggressive. This bottle was mellow, smooth, with that back-of-the-throat taste you get in a nice aged beer.
Then Laura pointed at the expiration on the bottle: best by end of 2008. The ABV listed on the bottle said 6%, definitely a bit low for a beer you intend to age. I tasted again, and decided that the “best by” date was simply incorrect. This beer is spectacular now, though without tasting notes from the last bottle it would be hard to confirm that it wasn’t better before.