The real treat of the night was a 1987 bottle of Thomas Hardys Ale. This was from the old Eldridge Pope vintages. It was superb. Described as " a waltz on the palate," it still held loads of sweet fruit flavors with creamy butterscotch notes. We compared it to a more recent O'Hanlon 2006 vintage of Thomas Hardys Ale, and it won hands down.
Other standouts were:
Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza: a beautiful, complex Belgian strong ale. Lots of barnyard and Brett yeast notes.
Dogfish Head Sahtea: a rarely made Finnish style, typically weirded up by Calagione, with added Black Chai tea.
Two disappointments were from Mikkeller:
These were both Black Hole (imperial stout), one aged in red wine barrels and one not. The barrel aging didn't seem to add anything to the beer. Both were strong but somehow lacking in character.
We also disagreed on the 2007 Avery Mephistopheles Stout. I gave it one of my highest ratings of the day, but no one else felt it was anything special; one person rated it with a single word, "Burn."
Here's a list of what we had, along with average ratings (50-point scale):
44.25 Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardys Ale 1987 (Barley Wine) 11.7%
41.5 Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza (Belgian Strong Ale) 8%
39.25 OHanlons Thomas Hardys Ale 2006 (Barley Wine) 11.7%
38 Southern Tier Back Burner 2008 (Barley Wine) 10%
37.5 Dogfish Head Sahtea (Traditional Ale) 9%
37 Avery Mephistopheles Stout 2007 Batch 3(Imperial Stout) 16%
33 Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel Aged (Imperial Stout) 13.1%
32.75 Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA (Imperial/Double IPA) 9.5%
32.25 Mikkeller Black Hole (Imperial Stout) 13.1%
31 Terrapin Side Project Hopzilla Double IPA 10.8%
29.75 Heather Ales Kelpie (Traditional Ale) 4.4%
28.25 Middle Ages The Duke Of Winship (Porter) 6.5%
26.33 Helios Goya Dry (Spice/Herb/Vegetable) 5%
NR Youngs Old Nick 20-30 years old (Barley Wine) 7.2%