On a recent outing to Julio's Liquors in Westborough, I made a happy find: a bunch of bottles of Pannepot Grand Reserva 2005 sitting on the shelf. For the uninitiated, this is not only a rare beer but one of the most revered. It's also among the pricier beers around; one 11.2-ounce bottle costs $12.
Quick note: This review is for entertainment purposes. I would be surprised if many bottles of Grand Reserva 2005 remain on store shelves. Once word gets out that a beer like this has arrived, it quickly sells out. Best to call your favorite craft beer shop before rushing out to try to find this one.
Made by De Struise Brouwers in Belgium, Pannepot Grand Reserva is a variation on Pannepot Old Fisherman's Ale, a quadrupel that is one of my favorite beers on Earth. Grand Reserva is Old Fisherman's Ale aged in oak barrels for two years. Supposedly only 3,000 bottles of the 2005 batch were made, and a bunch of them recently showed up in the United States, imported by Shelton Brothers of Belchertown.
In other words, this beer had been aging for more than six years by the time I drank it.
A beer like this is best served at cellar temperature, 50 to 55 degrees, which is exactly how I had it. Pannepot Grand Reserva 2005 is a deep, luxurious, complex beer. Dark brown with a foaming, 3-inch head pocked with big bubbles, the beer gave off an aroma of prunes, raisins, spices, oak, and alcohol. The first sip was heaven -- what an easy-drinking beer, despite its high (10 percent) alcohol content. Wood and age have deepened the beer, softened the edges.
Pannepot Grand Reserva 2005 ranks among the best quads -- among the best beers -- anywhere.