To celebrate our company’s 20th Anniversary last year, Cigar City was kind enough to brew us a one-off exclusive for release in our July 2014 Rare Beer Club shipment: El Monstruo Lupúlo, an imperial IPA monster crafted with eight different hops – including a few experimental varieties – and aged on Spanish cedar and spruce.
A hop bomb like that is meant to be enjoyed fresh, while the hops are undegraded and still bursting out at full tilt. And we certainly enjoyed plenty fresh bottles. But we also hid some away to revisit later, to watch how the beer would hold up and evolve in bottle over time.
This week we decided to crack one open, more than a year after storing it away in a cool, dark cellar (otherwise known as our server room). How did it hold up?
Pretty darn well, actually. It was immediately apparent that some of sharper higher-octave hop notes had subsided somewhat, which we expected. But make no mistake, this brew is still a big, bad, hoppy monster. The citrusy core of orange and grapefruit was still front and center in a big way, along with light hints of evergreen from the spruce and Chinook additions. There was a berry-like hint in there as well, bolstered by a softly floral overtone and a mild vanilla-esque quality. Bitterness was still very big.
The malts seem at least as prominent as we remember them, perhaps even moreso now that the topmost edge of the hop profile has subdued a little. Lots of toasty, toffee-like notes offer plenty of structure, all touched by woody hints.
So, despite being over a year old, El Monstruo Lupúlo has held up really nicely and still displays a wonderfully complex hop profile in tandem with those woody additions that augment them just as well as we remember. We’ll have to crack another one open at the 2-year mark to see exactly what long-term aging will do to it, but we’re confident it’ll still be delicious.