Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Don Younger’s death. For those who don’t know, Don was the owner of the Horse Brass, Portland’s legendary beer bar. And that’s telling it lightly. It’s a mecca, with some of the world’s best, most rarest beers on tap. He collected friends in the brewing community like this guy collects miniature liquor bottles. Brewers would always set a keg of something special aside, and Don would put it on. I wrote a lot more about my recollections of Don over on my failed 999 Beers blog, and guest BS’er Chris Tacy actually bar crawled with him a few years back. Good background reading.
But I’m writing to tell you about a beer I’m drinking right now. It was Don’s. I made it to his estate sale on the second day, and most of the good stuff (if there was good stuff – Don had dissimilar taste in beer to me) was already gone. But there on the shelves, I found something dusty and … curious. A six-pack of Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Bottling number 13.
This is not a beer you’d normally age, so it must have had some significance. Or not. When I die, I suppose people will find lots of things around and wonder why I kept them. That G4 in the basement, for example, circa 1998. Equally dust-covered.
The label says “only premium quality brewing for four generations.” So maybe it’s one of the last brews from Henry’s before Miller’s takeover? That was in 1999. This could be a 13-plus-year-old beer. Or not. Marketers can be … misleading.
I can tell you one thing – there’s no born-on date. Nor is there any carbonation. The cap was a bit tarnished, and the screw-top never was a reliable barrier for gases in or out. No sound at all when I opened it.
It is absolutely clear, though. No sediment in the bottom, either. Guessing this, like its present-day descendants, is not bottle-conditioned.
And the taste? It’s faint. Just a hint of wet malt. Very thin. I doubt I will drink more than a sip or two, but it smells nice. Like Fuller’s Vintage, even. But very little actual flavor. Vintage beer-scented water.
Rest in peace, Don. Maybe someday you’ll tell me what you were saving this for.
Update: one more thought. The bottle doesn’t include a bottle deposit on the label. Oregon’s famous “Bottle Bill,” which added a 5-cent deposit to beer bottles, was enacted in 1971. It’s hard to believe the beer could be that old, though.