Imbibe Hour


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Big Beer is Big fun, and full of imbibing win.

Several years ago when I arrived in DC I would often be in one of my favorite beer stores to pick up goodies during the December holidays. When one goes to the liquor store during these times, you find the usual things, lots of champagne (or some other sparkling wine), gift packs, glassware, but one time amongst all the celebratory stuff I saw in the beer section very large bottles. "Hey they stuck a bottle of champagne in the beer section by mistake what are they doing?" I though to myself. Then I looked closer and saw that this wasn't a mistake... these big bottles had familiar labels and were full of beer!

For many years I put off buying these items, always telling myself.. yeah I am gonna have to get one of these. Years would pass (and I mean MANY!), I would see the bottles in the stores and talk myself out of them every time. Finally I had to break down and do this and find an excuse to buy one of these (cause it would be hard to justify drinking this all to myself), and called up some friends and invited them over for a poker night.

The stage was set, and with much imbibing joy, we cracked this sucker open. This is a jeroboam sized bottle of Augustijn Blonde Ale a style of Belgian Pale Ale. I purchased it in late December, kept it in my cold basement garage and cracked it open about 4 weeks later. Storing these things is an issue because you want to serve and keep this at a good temperature. I have some tips if you are thinking about having one of these large bottles:

1) Make sure you have a big enough place that is perfect for cold/cool storage

The beer recommends 8°C (That's 46.4°F for us Americans) and that "seemed" to be what my unheated basement in DC would do on a typical winter day. This is also why I drink a lot of beer during this time, because I have plenty of room down there, it's dark, and it stays perfectly cool. However, this does not work for long term cellaring of bottles, because a typical temperature in July in my basement is about 120°F!! I did get concerned at one point cause we had some very odd days in December where the temperatures outside even got into the high 50s! but it stored and kept well. Luckily temperature changes didn't vary much, which always has me concerned cause I am convinced that really ruins beer fast (especially Belgian style made beers). Make sure you have enough room.

2) Put it in that dark cool place and DON'T MOVE IT AROUND, LEAVE IT until you are ready to serve it.

3) Opening

Get help... no what I mean is you can do this yourself but have someone ELSE around to probably hold your glassware. Two hands with everything always so another body is always good. Besides you're sharing this! Have kitchen towels ready, and a place to set the bottle DOWN. Now as for opening, as I've mentioned with corks... ideally TWIST THE BOTTLE while holding the cork to loosen it. Once you've done that then slowly with your thumbs go around the edges gently pushing the cork. DO NOT PUSH HARD OR YOU WILL BREAK THE CORK. Eventually the cork will start to give, the best feeling is when you feel the cork move on its own that way you can have time to be ready when it pops.

4) Aim

Seriously this is a no brainer.. but AIM away FROM YOURSELF. Have an idea of where the cork is going to go before you even begin opening, a big open ceiling is good. Don't aim in a room with lots of windows, lights etc... and of course DON'T AIM FOR YOUR FACE looking at the cork to see what is going on.

5) On pop

Once the bottle opens PUT IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY because it should gush and you will get your hands wet. If you hold it while it is gushing you will get your hands wet and there's a VERY good chance you will DROP IT which means... spilling it, or worse... breaking it.

And finally my most important tip for this..

6) HAVE FUN!! Share this with someone who appreciates good drink.

That's about it... to see how this drink and review went, check out the video below.


  1. hey an audience! Your popularity is rising hope it was a good time. I am not a fan of Belgian beers, but you did say it had a pilsner taste, I would try it on that note.

  2. Everybody's tastes are different, some people get other things. Ironicaly speaking of Pilsner there was much Chzecvar and Pilsner Urquell drank as well.