Six years of the Hood Hopped Belgian Strong

The original bill of materials for my Hood Hopped Belgian Strong

Way back in February of 2014, 2 rentals and 3 (4?) phone models ago, I brewed what I think was my third homebrew: a Belgian Golden Strong Ale that I named Hood Hopped Belgian Strong.

All I know about the recipe is through the image above. I have no idea where I put any notes with actual quantities. I do know that when I logged the beer in Untappd, I assigned it an 8.5% ABV. I called it “Hood Hopped” because of the bag of Mt. Hood hops I used and I likely did something special with them during the brew to better impart their characteristics on the beer.

The part I remember the most is the use of a large bag of candi sugar, which the yeast just loves turning into alcohol.

The first glass, in April 2014.

When I finally tried my first proper glass of it in April 2014, I really enjoyed it. Because it was one of my first beers, I was likely not surprised by how cloudy it was even though the style probably meant for more clarity.

But! Things change when they sit in bottles.

A glass from January 2015.

The photo I took of a glass in January 2015 while bottling another beer looks much better. You can actually see through the glass a bit and understand where the description “golden” may come from.

It’s around this time that I started mistreating it. We moved a couple times and the beer sat in boxes shoved under other boxes and for a long while I entirely forgot that the beer existed.

At some point in our last place, I found these boxes of beer and decided they had been through too many varying conditions of heat and storage and should probably all just be dumped down the drain. 😱

Unfortunately, I did just that. But I did hang onto a few – “just to see what happens.” (To be fair, when you bottle a 5 gallon carboy of beer, you get a lot of beer.)

A glass from February 2019.

Last year, in February, I opened one of the last bottles and was absolutely amazed at how crisp and clear it was. It was tastier than ever—even though it had been completely mistreated for five years! It had spent the year previous in a pretty decent location, cellared in a nice, cool spot. But I definitely did not deserve this surprise after what it had been through, and I was happy.

Several months ago I put my last bottle in the fridge with the idea that I’d finally get around to drinking it and be done with the saga of the Belgian.

And last night I decided it would go great with my pizza.

A glass from April 2020.

SIX years later and it’s absolutely wonderful. I drank it and was happy and amazed that it had survived this long. The power of fermentation is something to behold.

And then. I went down to the cellar and poked around because I had a feeling. And sure enough, one more bottle. I have no idea where they keep coming from—I’m pretty sure I’ve had the last bottle several times now—but I am definitely excited for next year. 🍻

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