With the fresher versions having been described in part 1, the second part deals with the older vintages. At this point the beers were pretty far from IPA, and were considered by the panel to be more like an Old Ale. One can notice the changes in labels, but one other difference is the use of twist-off caps prior to 2006. This can play a role in lower carbonation levels, as there is a potential for carbonation to be lost due to leakage through a cap. This is less likely with non-twist-offs.
2005- A moderately low carbonation level is a step down from the more recent years. Sherry and breadiness show through in the aroma, as well as some prune. The flavor had some bitter orange character, and sherry and bread notes again. This was the darkest one so far, but just barely.
2004- This had sherry and prune in the aroma, and a Madera-like nose. Just a touch darker than the 2005, and this had a wonderful melding of flavors. Slight bitterness, with sherry, bready richness, and prune all seemed to be a single flavor. This was a favorite of those who participated in this tasting, and took the judges by surprise.
2003- Similar to the 2004, but not as good. Here is where the negative oxidation characteristic of papery is noticeable. This was slight, so it was not a total disappointment, if any. Sherry was stronger, and this had just a bit more carbonation than the 2004. The aroma is getting mild at this point, with aromas the same as the 2004, but milder.
2002- A very mild aroma, with sherry and hints of tobacco shop. This was low in bitterness, and the body seemed lighter. Some bready richness in the flavor.
2001- A very mild aroma again, with sherry, prune, and bourbon. Very low bitterness, not surprising after so much aging at this point, with an earthy, slightly ash-like flavor.
2000- This one stood out amongst the crowd in a positive way, despite some cardboard and papery notes in the aroma and flavor. This was covered up by sherry and bourbon, and slight vanilla and tobacco shop nuances in the aroma. This had very low bitterness, slight sherry, and a low level of bready maltiness. Medium light carbonation with a light body.
1999- Sherry and some caramel and bourbon in the aroma. Some papery flavor in the finish, and also had some sherry, bready/caramel richness. This one seemed to have a drier finish than most.
1998- This was a bit of a repeat of 1999, but with some alcohol/vanilla notes in the aroma. The sherry in the flavor was a bit stronger. This one was the smoothest vintage so far.
1997- This one was even smoother, with the sherry (especially), slight cardboard, and vanilla/bourbon that showed up in the other ones before it. One distinction was a soda-like character reminiscent of Dr. Pepper.
1996- Another vintage that stood out. The cardboard in the aroma was very slight, and did not show up in the flavor. This was very smooth and had some malt richness of bread crust and caramel. The aroma was similar to a tobacco shop, and was a bit woody. Caramel was slight, and the aroma was mostly sherry-like.
1995- This had notes of brown sugar, and a bit of paper in the aroma. The flavor had molasses at a moderate and dominant level. Some cardboard in the flavor (very hard to not have this with such an old beer), this had a medium body and low carbonation. Another very smooth beer.
1994- This was also a favorite of the panel. Caramel and burnt brown sugar in the aroma, along with some alcohol and richness. Some candy-like quality was nice, and the flavor had some caramel/bready richness, and the Dr. Pepper quality of the 1997, with some nondescript spiciness. Low in carbonation, and a bit of papery oxidation.
1993- This one did not hold up that well, but certainly was not bad. A very mild aroma with hints of tobacco, this one suffered a bit more than most in the area of oxidation. This had a lingering papery flavor, with caramel, cardboard, and slight tobacco and bitterness.
1992- This one did hold up pretty well and was interesting in the almond-like quality in the aroma and flavor. Some caramel-like richness in the aroma, and some sweetness. This was very slight in the bitterness, and had a very slight alcohol aroma.
Part 3 will conclude this series, including one that was a favorite of the panel.