For me, and for many others, beer is something to be appreciate for much more than the act of consumption. Of course, that is when the final and most significant satisfaction will always lye, but over the years I have gained a great appreciation for the anticipation of drinking a specific beer. This can come in many forms, and will prove to test your level of patience and discipline.
The scenario which the majority of people will be familiar with is the anticipation of an event. It could be a beer festival that you recently discovered the beer list for, or a dinner at one of your favorite beer bars, or even just a night with your friends that you have put a special bottle away for. Anytime you have a great beer in mind for consumption at a later date, you are building up the anticipation of enjoying that beer.
Another, maybe less common scenario is a big beer shopping mission. You come home with 3o, 40 or even 50 different beers, and because each of them are special and unique in their own right, you will not simply be chugging them back. In this case, you have now destined certain beers for the near future, and other further down the road. Slowly but surely making your way through those beer can be exceptionally satisfying, but every time you dig into that collection you are reminded of the pleasures to come – and thus building on the anticipation factor. This one gets me every time I go to Buffalo for a beer mission.
Last time I was in Buffalo, only about 1 month ago, I returned with about 40 different bottles of beer – the majority of which I have yet to touch since placing them in my short term cellar. But every time I choose the next beer to place in the fridge, my eye catches several others which are just begging to me to choose them. This is a very intense level of anticipation, especially if your are more curious than you are patient – as I am!
The greatest level of anticipation though is reserved for special beers which have been laid down specifically to age and mature. Not all beers can do this, and thus long term cellaring is only destined for a unique creed of beer – this cellaring may be for 1, 3 or even more than 5 years. Really, depending on the beer, they could go for 10 or even 20. The Unibroue Quelque Chose literally has a best before date of 2025!
When I choose to cellar a beer I am concerned with a few things. First of all, will this beer improve with age? Really, only beers of an alcohol % of 8 or greater are worth cellaring for more than one year, and unless they are fermented with a wild and complex yeast, or have a very high final gravity (sugar content), they probably will not gain much maturity with the time spend resting. Also, I try to consider whether or not I want to cellar that beer, or drink it soon. This is a tough one, and is where the anticipation begins. If it is a beer that I have never had before, then 99% of the time I will be enjoyed soon. I mean really, the beer was made to be enjoyed, not to be put to sleep.
But if I have had the beer already, and strongly feel that it will benefit by some time to rest, then into the cellar it goes, with a small part of my brain and heart. This is the highest level of anticipation for me. Walking down to the cellar and pulling out a bottle that you laid down 3 or 4 years earlier can be an epic moment – then popping that cork and sharing a reveered bottle amongst your friends it truly a deep and soulful pleasure.
This level of anticipation will be different will all people – some people are more passive about it, and other may dwell on the luxury to come. Personally, I dwell. I dwell on the though of enjoying that beer, I focus and conceptualize the scenario in which it will be consumed, and I hypothesize about how delicious it will be. It is a bit obsessive compulsive of me, but thats just one trait that definitely defines my character.
So regardless of the scenario, beer can be appreciated by those who revere it, as I do. It may be a bit beer-nerdy, but if you know the feeling, you know exactly where I am coming from!