I have a small collection of beers in my cellar. Every once and awhile I’ll pull one out for a special occasion. This past Friday night we went out to our local BYOB, Las Cazuelas, with some friends, and I brought along a bottle of 2006 Allagash Musette.

Lois and I have had a rocky relationship with the restaurant. Its only 2 blocks from our house, but the last time we went, we had a less than perfect experience. So we haven’t been back there in awhile. But we decided to give it another chance. This was a much better experience, not mind blowing, but not a disaster. We had the cactus salad and the shrimp ceviche to start. Lois loves the cactus salad and it didn’t disappoint, and the ceviche was lemony and fresh. I ordered the special, a shrimp and calamari with rice dish cooked in beer. For all the server’s interest in my bottle of Musette, he didn’t say much about the beer in the dish. And I couldn’t pick out much beeriness in the dish. Oh well, it was tasty nonetheless. Since I’ve started eating seafood, after 10 years of strict vegetarianism, I must say, I’m a sucker for shrimp.

Now for the beer, the real reason for the post. The label had a bottling date of August 2006, so it was 4 months shy of 2 years old. We had similar vintage bottle of Curieux a couple months ago, and it had aged amazingly, so I was really looking forward to trying the Musette. The bottle opened (by me, I think the server was afraid to open it, ha ha) with a distinct pop, which surprised me. There was clearly plenty of carbonation still in there. This was confirmed by the healthy headed pour. As for the taste, I was not only surprised by the level of carbonation, but also by the bitterness of the hops; they were still very up-front at almost 2 years old. The sherry-like qualities of a well aged beer only peeked through a bit as it warmed up. Overall the beer tasted rather fresh, and was incredibly drinkable, particularly paired with the subtly smoky cactus salad.

My only regret is that I don’t have another one of these. I’d love to age it for another 2 years and see how it progresses. Oh well, time to stock up the cellar again.