I will not name names, it would not be fair, but I feel that some of the beers that I have always considered to be in the vanguard of brewing are not the beers that they were. We all have our top ten beers, but if you look back a few years and try them now, are they still the same or do they still give you the wow factor?
I have touched on this before but can still not find a definitive answer, and brewers seem somewhat reluctant to discuss the matter. The beer that you found in 2008, with a massive hop hit and pushing the taste envelope, seems somewhat staid nowadays. Is it because your tastebuds have changed? Possibly after all you are five years older. Is it because the ingredients have changed over the years? Maybe, after all hops and barley are living organisms and different years may bring forth better or worse crops. Has the brewer changed the recipe? This is a tricky one. And the one I will expand on a little.
Lets suppose that a brewery brews a beer that becomes very successful, possibly winning awards even. The brewery obviously wants to take advantage of that success and wants to brew as much of the beer as possible to satisfy the drinker and make money as well. They only have a small plant. What do they do?
Some will outsource the brewing to a brewery who have spare capacity. Is this the same beer? I believe that any change in ingredients, (water, yeast, hops and malt) will affect the taste, and effectively produce a different beer, albeit only slightly different to the original, but still different. Other breweries in an attempt to save a little money may cut down on some of the basic ingredients, again a different beer in my opinion. The original recipe required a certain balance, to mess with the recipe changes the taste.
It must be a difficult balance to achieve, and one that I am glad I do not have to do.
Another factor to consider, is that the beer you thought was wonderful then, may still be wonderful now but just that other breweries and other beers are more wonderful. And your old favourite slips down the pecking order.
I don't know the answer, in fact I don't think I want to know the answer. I just want to enjoy the beer. In fact I may just have to have another and do some more thinking. Happy New Beer to you all !!