One of the modern craft beer drinking connundrums is reconciling how some beers can taste so incredible on draft/tap and yet so mediocre or sub-standard in bottles. Or vice-versa - as I found the first time I tried 21ST AMENDEMENT BREWING's Holiday Spiced Ale this year on tap (7/10) after being wowed by how amazing it was in a bottle (9.5/10). Sure, most times great beer is great beer (MOYLAN'S Hopsickle is stunning no matter how it's served up), and one has to guard against judging an "aged" bottle - one you kept in your garage for months upon months - too harshly against its draft equivalent. Often, due to the way bottle-conditioned beers age over time, that bottle you bought 12 months ago is a totally different brew than it would have been had you consumed it right away. As Rick Sellers from Pacific Brew News pointed out in last week's interview, lighter beers (pale ales and whatnot) also don't age as well as, say, stouts, porters and Belgian dubbels.
This intro is my lead-in to the disappointing revelation that LOST ABBEY's incredible AVANT-GARDE bier de garde was a decided step down as a beer in a bottle than the knockout it was out of a keg several months ago. At the Port Brewing/Lost Abbey beer chef dinner I attended in October I drank several fresh glasses of this and was blown away by its crisp, light but robust hoppiness, and just how smooth and fruity it was. Total nirvana. I gave it a 10. I also rushed to City Beer to buy a bottle the next day since I'd heard he had some in stock from the Pizza Port gang's trip to Northern California, and the bottle I opened up this past weekend was the one I'd been "aging" (!) for the past three month. Hey gang- was that too long? I still liked this one but it tasted really different....out of the bottle I got a much more intense flavor that wasn't all pleasure like the last one; this time around the alcohol was more present, and it wasn't hops I was tasting, it was malts - which is all well & good - but wasn't the incredible world-changer the tap version was. It’s a drop-off from being one of the best beers I’ve had in my entire life to a merely very good, interesting, above-average beer. I'd drink this again anytime, especially to see how it fares a third time, and at the end of the day, it's just a goddamn beer, right? 7.5/10.