Coopers Brewery Limited - Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2009
Serving Temperature:45-55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Snifter, or Pint Glass
We’re very excited to bring you this very, very special treat: the 2009 vintage of Cooper’s Extra Strong Vintage Ale. Yep, we sent you three year old beer. But it’s a good thing, trust us. Unlike most beers that are designed to be enjoyed fresh within the first few months of life, certain beers are suitable for extended maturation, like many of the beers in our Rare Beer Club, and this Vintage Ale from Coopers, which is at its prime right now in our opinion. If you look closely at the printing on the bottle itself, instead of a “Best Before” date you’ll find a “Best After” date. Why? Because this very sturdy beer was designed to be matured; when kept at cellar temperatures (low-mid 50s) the beer will age gracefully for years after it’s bottled. The oldest Coopers Vintage Ale we’ve had was 4 years old and it was still magnificent.
When pouring this ruddy-brown brew, be aware that it’s bottle conditioned and there is a layer of yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. You may pour carefully to leave it behind, or not – it’s up to you. On the nose, expect a highly aromatic and complex profile. Fruitiness is apparent right away; we sensed notes of fig, apple, citrus (clementines), raisins, and stone fruits (plums, peaches, and apricots). Look also for prominent caramel, brown sugar, rum, gingerbread, raspberry tea, and anise. The complexity continues on the palate where rich, smooth, and toasty caramel forms a core infused with the aforementioned fruits, a touch of honey, and a prominent vinous, madeira-like impression that results from the slow oxidization of the beer during its extended aging. Alcohol pops in from time to time as well, contributing a drying effect that, along with a woody, earthy hop character and some earthy and lightly spicy yeast, helps balance this beer’s sweet center. Enjoy this beer on its own, perhaps as a nightcap or digestif. Relax and enjoy it alone or with a good friend. It’ll change somewhat as it warms in the glass, so you may want to pour it after 10 minutes out of the fridge, and just take your time, letting in warm in the glass. Cheers!
The Coopers Brewery was founded in 1862 just outside Adelaide, Australia, in the town of Leabrook. This respectable outfit is the last stronghold of the historic family-owned breweries on the Australian continent. Thomas Cooper, a Wesleyan preacher from Yorkshire, England, immigrated to southern Australia and founded the brewery at a time when big breweries dominated the local colonies. Unfortunately, that fact hasn’t changed much in Australia, and the Coopers Brewery has faced multiple threats of hostile takeover from the big boys.
Thomas Cooper’s brewing career was initiated much by accident when his ailing wife requested that he make a restorative ale—from an old family recipe—to be used as a tonic. Turns out the ale was well received not only by his wife, but by locals for whom he provided samples. Appreciated for its taste and perceived medicinal attributes, demand grew enough for Cooper to start his famous brewery, which today remains as the sole independent brewery in Australia to survive the entire 20th century.
Interestingly, as a Wesleyan preacher, Thomas Cooper felt that pubs were sinful places (though he wisely saw no evil in beer—after all, it was the tonic that aided his wife's health). Thus, for most of its history, the brewery owned no pubs, and today they own only one, the Earl of Aberdeen, in the old center of Adelaide. A brewery with no pubs, while commonplace in the US microbrewery revolution, is a very rare scenario for established overseas breweries. This apparent lack of an "automatic market" seems to have been critical in avoiding takeover bids during their history. And we like to believe that Thomas Cooper would have been a fan of our beer of the month clubs for this very reason—no pub necessary to enjoy these fine brews, right?
We're major fans of Coopers and their true-to-style beers, and admire them for sticking to their goal of being a family-based business. Back in 2005, a competing brewery (a conglomerate really) launched a hostile takeover bid. Coopers, while family-run, does have shareholders, and if a majority of them approved the deal, it would have been adios to independence. Thankfully, the Coopers family (and their shareholders) were ready for the fight, rejected all bids, and have proudly maintained their independence as a family-owned and operated brewery. Join us in lifting a pint to their continued independence!
For more information about the brewery, check out their website at www.coopers.com.au.
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