It was the first beer that I ever reviewed, was the ale that made me create Beer O'Clock. And it was the best Imperial stout I ever had. When I was told that it could last 10 years, I put it to the test. And this year, it was time to say goodbye.
Months ago, when I told my friend that I only had one bottle of his stellar creation, he told me, in that calm, soft, nonchalant voice of his, "that's one more than I have." For all I know, it was the last bottle in existence. If you have any, I'd love to hear from you.
Also, if you do have a bottle, drink it now or forever keep it sealed.
Because, on this Imperial stout's tenth anniversary, it's reached its end.
Tsarina Katarina 2005 Imperial Stout (9% ABV)Appearance: deep, deep walnut, with a dark-taupe head that needed coaxing. In fact, I poured the bottle into a glass and then quickly poured that glass into another, to bring it to life. It raised a thick, foamy head that settled to a solid cap.
Scotch-Irish Brewing Company
Fitzroy Harbour, ON
Nose: dark chocolate, licorice, and prunes.
Palate: sweet prunes and mild coffee. The liquid was mostly flat but not dead: there was a faint pulse that stimulated the tongue. But as I drank more, I could tell that the fizz was this beer's final breath. The flavour carried through to a tangy finish that was slightly sour.
As I continued to drink this old stout, I could taste it change, become more acidic, as though it was burning out. I have experienced this mouth change in some very old wines, but never in a beer. The air was taking the life out of the glass.
Overall impression: if this had been a new beer, I would have said that it was slightly off, that there might have been a flaw in the bottling. At 10 years, it was still drinkable, though the final sips told me that not only was my glass finished, this majestic brew was, too.
Knowing this beer's history, this final bottle was still enjoyable. My friend didn't lie: this ale lasted 10 years. No more.
I tip my hat to you, Perry: you were true to your word. You made a classic Imperial stout and you made it legendary. Your brewery is gone, and now what may have been the final bottle has been consumed. Be proud that it happened.
The queen is dead: rather, the tsarina is gone, but not forgotten.
Beer O'Clock rating: 3