In Followup on BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines, I also wrote that I also needed a beer in Category 17, Strong British Ale.
However after a little research and thinking about it some ... I decided that I have actually satisfied this category with some of my bottled X-Mas Ales from previous years.
Specifically ... 17B. Old Ale.
"A stronger-than-average English ale, though usually not as strong or rich as an English Barley Wine, but usually malty. Warming. Shows positive maturation effects of a well-kept, aged beer.
Deep amber to very dark reddish-brown color, but most are fairly dark. Age and oxidation may darken the beer further. Clear, but can be almost opaque. Moderate to low cream- to light tan-colored head; retention average to poor."
According to the style guidelines, Old Ales can be between 5.5 to 9% ABV with between 30 and 60 IBUs. The SRM can be anywhere between 10 and 22.
All my X-Mas Ales fall in those ranges. Most of them have some sort of flavoring in them, but a few batches were "base beer only.
Last Sunday I pulled out some old X-Mas Ales from my beer fridge.
2017 X-Mas Ale (Blueberry) ... 5.5% ABV. 30IBU. SRM 20.
2015 X-Mas Ale (Base beer only) ... 7.0% ABV. 32IBU. SRM 19.
2014 X-Mas Ale (Base beer only) ... 7.4% ABV. 32IBU. SRM 22.
2013 X-Mas Ale (Smoked malt) ... 7.8% ABV. 40IBU. SRM 20.
I didn't much care for the Smoked 2013 beer back when I brewed it, but the rest were awesome when they were new.
It was fun to give them a try after so many years. I used to save 6 packs of each of my X-Mas Ale batches to do future vertical tastings, but 2017 appears to be the last year I actually saved bottles from, and it has been a long time since I've done one.
Until yesterday ....
The beers were visually beautiful. Carbonation was still awesome with long-lasting head on all the beers except the 2017 bottle. I am pretty sure that is because all of them except 2017 were bottle conditioned whereas the 2017 beer was bottled from the keg as an afterthought.
They were all clear beer with a wonderful ruby red brown color. 2013 was particularly beautiful.
The 2013 smoked beer was still my least favorite, although the smoke flavor had faded enough that this was a nice beer.
The 2014 / 2015 "base only" beers were great. 2014 had more "aged" oxygen character whereas the 2015 actually tasted fairly fresh.
The blueberry flavor in 2017 was pretty much gone. I think this might have actually been the closest to "style" of "Old Ale", although I think they all fit great.
I'm actually pleasantly surprised how well all these held up over the years.
I finished the smoked beer first. I'm the sort of person who tries to finish up my least favorite first to allow myself the pleasure of everything else.
Eventually, I combined the two base beers into one, and refrigerated the 2017 beer to come back to later so I wouldn't be too wasted the rest of the day.
The blend was a good combination. I had this to drink during the Missouri Valley Men's Basketball Tournament final.
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