Is it safe?
August 19, 2007 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I have an 8.45 ounce bottle of Sam Adams Triple Bock, ca. 1994, an ale brewed w/ maple syrup, that I was given as a gift. I just found it again in a cabinet. It's been sealed well, kept in dark spaces in air conditioned spaces mostly. Safe to drink? Keep aging? Bury in a landfill?
posted by docpops to Food & Drink (26 answers total)
I'm guessing even if it's safe to drink it will taste pretty terrible. 13 years is a long time for beer to be sitting around.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:53 AM on August 19, 2007

A lot of beer manufacturers have a "sell by" or "bottled on" date on their products now. Old stale beer really doesn't taste good, and the bottle you found will probably taste pretty horrible and vinegary. I'd toss it, but you're not going to get poisoned if you consume it. Only one way to find out if it's still drinkable: pop the cap and take a sip.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:55 AM on August 19, 2007

I don't know if its safe, but check out these reviews. Definately an interesting "beer".
posted by dcjd at 8:56 AM on August 19, 2007

There's nothing in a sealed bottle of beer that will go bad in a harmful sense, and while I haven't looked this up as a fact, I personally consider syrup similarly non-perishable in my personal life. (There may not even be "syrup" in the final beer if it was brewed with it as a source of sugar for the yeast.) I would drink it now or at the next suitable celebration.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:57 AM on August 19, 2007

To everyone saying it's going to taste bad: It's possible, but unlikely. This beer has more alcohol than a lot of wines and at that point beer can be aged. Apparently this one was only brewed a couple times and people are definitely still drinking it today.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2007

Even if it was a brand new bottle, you really want to pour it out - this stuff is horrid. One of the few beers I've ever encountered that I cannot stomach (a point of reference is Samichlaus, it's similar to that. Ick.)
posted by jbickers at 9:20 AM on August 19, 2007

Triple Bock is one of Sam Adams' "Extreme Beers":
"Samuel Adams Triple Bock is the beer that truly started our odyssey into extreme brewing. Its deep, full flavor explodes with notes of maple, vanilla, oak and toffee. This flavor, along with its heavy, still mouthfeel has drawn comparisons to a vintage port, sherry and cognac. And Samuel Adams Triple Bock should be enjoyed in much the same way. We recommend serving it at room temperature in a snifter a few ounces at a time - one bottle should generously serve two to three. Its warming malt character and fruit esters make it an ideal after dinner aperitif.

Due to legal restrictions, Samuel Adams Triple Bock can not be sold in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia."
TheOnlyCoolTim's right about the high alcohol content. I read somewhere that Sam Adams' Triple Bock, Millennium and Utopias are said to age like fine port. Taste it. If you like it, drink it. If not, pour it down the drain.
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on August 19, 2007

If it was stored correctly I would most definitely drink it. It also sounds like it has been stored correctly. Beware though because it is not in any traditional sense a "beer". It is technically a beer according to the German beer purity law because it is made only with barley hops water and yeast, but unless you are an avid beer fan then you might not like it. I have a couple of bottles left and I open one every year or so and I haven't died yet so I wouldn't worry about it being unsafe, just potentially unpalatable.
posted by koolkat at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2007

If it tastes too weird to drink, perhaps you could try cooking with it before dumping it.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 AM on August 19, 2007

Usually I would say that a beer that has sat around this long was no good, but this beer might be an exception. I remember having some in 1994 and its syrupy quality was most reminscent of port, except malty instead of vegetal. It was interesting tasting but I could not finish the bottle.

Its high alcohol and sugar content may have preserved it. Probably worth a try some night when you've got nothing else going on.

As a data point: I've also drank bottles of Coors and Michelob that have sat around outdoors (not in sunlight) for 20+ years and they tasted just like any other bottle of Coors or Michelob, which is to say, who cares because they weren't that great to begin with.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:58 AM on August 19, 2007

it's probably lost most of its flavor. unless you're destitute, or an alcoholic, throw it away (or keep it unopened on display on a shelf in the kitchen if you're one of those guys). and clean your pantry more often, for chrissakes, you'll get vermin in there
posted by matteo at 10:04 AM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sell it! They're going for about 20 bucks on ebay.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:23 AM on August 19, 2007

For what it's worth, there are two things that will make even a high-gravity beer like this go bad over time: light (UV exposure specifically — it reacts with hop chemicals to produce "skunky" flavor) and heat. You say this has been stored in a cool dark place, so that raises the odds that it's good.

...or, well, not-ruined at least. Even if it has aged well, not everyone likes old ales. They're stronger, thicker and, yeah, winier than anything freshly brewed, and if you tasted one blind you probably wouldn't recognize it as beer at all.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:24 AM on August 19, 2007

It wasn't good when it was bottled. Unless you like a nice cold glass of soy sauce.
posted by electroboy at 10:39 AM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Try it! Then blog about it, or at least let us know.

As nebulawindphone pointed out, it's been stored in reasonable conditions, and it's one of the few "beers" that's actually meant to age. It's definitely not "bad" unless the seal somehow became compromised; if something were wrong, you'd know as soon as you tasted it.
posted by mkultra at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2007

In a frosted pint glass, slowly mix 3 parts Kikkoman soy sauce to 1 part maple syrup. Pour in a jigger of cheap vodka.

OMG -- a new cocktail -- and a "hippy, 2chan one at that!"

Bartender, screw the 'Long Island Ice Tea." I'll have a 'Green Mountain Warrior Kikkoman.'
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2007

ericb: Indeed! And I want credit.

Bonus points if you use Grade B maple syrup (though really, is there any other kind??)

(Hoping that jessamyn, as a Vermonter, is enough of a maple syrup snob to not delete this as noise)
posted by JMOZ at 1:08 PM on August 19, 2007

Go ahead and drink it only if it's not flat.

If it is flat, do no more than taste it.
posted by jamjam at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2007

Huh. I've always loved the flavor combination of sweet and salty. In fact when I was a kid I once mixed up some soy sauce and sugar, boiled it down a bit, and made "soy sauce candy". I thought it was delicoius, but I'm weird that way. I'd have to change the proportions (less soy sauce, a tad more vodka and syrup) but I bet I'd actually like it.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:24 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's safe to drink, so drink it. From a small glass. Treat it more like some kind of weird and potentially interesting dessert wine, rather than a normal beer. You may or may not like it but it's not harmful.
posted by nowonmai at 2:39 PM on August 19, 2007

I had some of that at a beer tasting once. I didn't think it was nearly as bad as some people were making it out to be. I think the problem is that people see that it's a beer product and expect ... well, beer. And it doesn't taste much like beer. It's something else.

I'd pop the cap and pour out a little and see what you think.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:13 PM on August 19, 2007

It wasn't good when it was bottled. Unless you like a nice cold glass of soy sauce.

Exactly. I'm all for experimental brews, but this one was a failure.

That said, thirteen is probably several years past any cellar beer's prime. That doesn't mean it can't be safely consumed. Unfortunately it was terrible to begin with, so I don't imagine it improved any.

I vote sell it.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 4:49 PM on August 19, 2007

I will go with the camp that says that a triple bock fresh from the store is a pretty tough beer to stomach. It may be difficult to tell if it goes off.
posted by GuyZero at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2007

Response by poster: Reading these responses made my night. I knew there was a reason I carried the damn bottle across the continent. I will definitely go as far as pouring it, most likely with a couple friends when we're already stewed. But I doubt very much I'll be able to do more than take a deep sniff. Still, any handcrafted beverage deserves something better than the drain.
posted by docpops at 8:53 PM on August 19, 2007

There is an article here: (requires registration)

Which describes a tasting of beers dating back to 1869. They seemed to go down quite well!
posted by xoe26 at 2:37 AM on August 20, 2007

Sooo... how was it?
posted by litlnemo at 4:03 AM on February 26, 2008

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