Birthdays and AnniversariesOn the last day of April, this bottle…

Birthdays and Anniversaries

On the last day of April, this bottle of Collage turned six years old, so we drank it to mark our eighth anniversary. Marking anniversaries feels a little silly. Sarah and I were married in 2010, but we met in probably September of 2006 and started dating in November, though that is just an estimate. When your friends with someone, how do you mark a first date? Also, who has a calendar handy when they’re making out?

Marking the birth of a beer is just as hard. Deschutes marks their Reserve Series beers with a best after date exactly one year from bottling. So we can assume it was bottled April 30, 2012. With a beer like Collage, there was a lot of work done before it hit bottles. The date on the side marks not so much the birth of the beer, but the end of a year long process of trial and error, blending and maturing. It’s just a like a wedding. A wedding ceremony marks the beginning of a marriage but also the continuation of a relationship. And like a good marriage, a good beer changes.

Collage started out as four separate beers from two breweries – Adam and Fred from Hair of the Dog, The Sotic and The Dissident from Deschutes. They were then aged in a wide variety of barrels – Bourbon, Pinot Noir, new American oak. Barrel aging isn’t an exact science, and it takes time for a beer to pick up the unique flavors of each vessel. Then there was a period of blending and further conditioning before the final product was bottled up.

Of course, the following years have been marked by additional changes. The body is softer, the bitterness is less edged, and the acidity is balanced by sweetness. The flavors are mellower. More caramel and less bourbon. More cranberry and less lemon. And the wafting scent of old broccoli could never ruin it.

Has this metaphor been tortured enough yet? Collage is still one of my favorite beers even six years on. And after eight years of marriage, Sarah is still my favorite person.