One of the highlights of my trip to Sydney last year was getting to meet bona fide brewing legend Chuck Hahn during a visit to the James Squire Brewhouse on Kings Wharf. At the end of the visit, I was delighted when he gave me a bottle of his Hahn Special Vintage 2000.
This was his millennium beer – a big beer (8%) for a new century.
It was a hit when it was released but now I had a bottle which had been aging for five years. Clearly, this wasn’t a beer to be casually drunk after a long day at work. This was one to cellar for a special occasion.
After about six months, at an appropriate time, the cork was popped and the Hahn Special Vintage saw the light for the first time since the twentieth century.
My first impression was that beer appeared to have the look and feel of a Chimay Blue though it turned out to be very much its own brew.
The beer poured languidly into the glass and displayed a unique deep tamarillo red hue and slight amber head.
The nose was anything but slight – huge with lashings of honey and the blast of higher alcohol.
The beer itself was strong, boisterous, a little toffee sweet but with some sherry/vinous notes keeping the taste buds moving.
It certainly tasted more than the 8% abv on the label but it had plenty of time in the bottle to make a few lifestyle changes. By the time it reached me, it was more like an excellent barley wine.
I felt privileged to have tried it.