Recently I have beer drinking through the stash, getting rid of some older stock. Working on the adage that the stash is not a vault, it is important once in a while to get to the bottom of things or at least shelves and dust off the dusty to see how things are going on their way to going off.
Last night I had a real revelation when I popped a Aussie Cooper's Vintage Ale with a best before date of 2006. It was malty with plenty of spice from the yeast as well as that gentle tang of age. Following up a Kapittel Pater from Belgium, the Coopers Vintage was entirely up to the comparison and even struck me as a superior and more complex brew. I mention this as I have been mulling a recent but unlocatable thread at the BeerAdvocate about the propriety of rating beers that have aged as well as a comment made by one beer importer which you can read here about drinking fresh beer unless it is intended for aging. I disagree but not because fresh is bad. I think we should freely experiment with our beer as much as possible - even against the directions of the brewers and cognoscenti. Who cares if the odd bottle goes foul? Finding out that some do surprising things is worth the risk of flops.
So, in addition to now changing my mind and supporting beer cocktails to a certain degree, I say - in addition to studying the sour beers we are sold - we must sour others ourselves. And, while something called Coopers Vintage Ale is a likely candidate for extended life span, try others as well. How else are we to determine when the weird is also the good weird?