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Rick Besserdin » Beer Reviews » Coopers Vintage Ale 2017

Coopers Vintage Ale 2017

Coopers Brewery have released their iconic Vintage Ale at events in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide this week. And it certainly seems to be another cracking year for the vintage ale, with plenty of hops, but more malt body than previous years. This year Coopers’ chairman Glen Cooper was joined by brewer Jon Meneses at the Melbourne launch at Paradise Alley, a new bar in Collingwood.

The 2017 Vintage uses Denali and Calypso, a couple of new hops that present pineapple and citrus notes. Along with bittering and late hop additions is a dry hopping schedule that adds more hop flavours without adding much more bitterness. The Coopers yeast first introduced by Thomas Cooper still has a profound influence on the beer flavours by adding esters and other compounds to the beer.

But it is the malt bill that takes priority in this year’s Vintage. The grist has been changed for the first time in over a decade. This year it contains a substantial portion of German (or is it English?) caramalt. This adds a lot of body and balancing sweetness along with a delightful red colour.

It appears to taste more approachable now than the 2016 when it was first released. Although it is difficult to compare directly because the 2016 tastes so different now. So, it will be interesting to see how the flavours change over time and I’m looking forward to getting my usual case, when they come into stock at my local bottle shop.

Here are a couple of videos from Coopers brewery. The full press release and tasting notes available below if you want any more information.

Introductory Video:

The 2017 apparently involved lots of testing and tasting:


Press Release and Tasting Notes:

Coopers Releases 2017 Vintage Ale

A new combination and hops and enriched malt flavours are the key characteristics of the 2017 Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale to be released tonight.

The release of Vintage Ale is a much loved annual event in the liquor trade and wider beer industry and is being celebrated this year with special evening launches in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

While hops remain the cornerstone of the 2017 Coopers Vintage Ale, this year brewers have revised the grist recipe, the first change in a decade.

Coopers Managing Director and Chief Brewer, Dr Tim Cooper, said the new grist recipe included a special blend of caramalt to provide a distinctive crimson red colour and a full bodied taste rich in malty, honey and dry nutty characters.

“The caramalt contributes well to the balance of bold malt flavours and the softness of a fine and creamy head,” he said.

“Vintage Ale is known for its bold and robust selection of hops and this year we have chosen the new bittering and aromatic varieties Denali and Calypso, which deliver a delicate spectrum of fruity aromas, with pineapple and pear characteristics alongside pine and citrus notes.

“Last year’s Vintage used a combination of Astra, Melba, Northern Brewer, Styrian Goldings and Cascade.”

Dr Cooper said the 2017 Vintage had a bitterness of 50 IBU that was expected to carry well as the beer matures.

The beer retains an alcohol level of 7.5% ABV, which will also help with the maturation process.

Coopers National Sales and Marketing Director, Mr Cam Pearce, said only a limited number of kegs and cartons would be made available and Vintage Ale lovers were encouraged to plan their purchases early.

“This is one of the few beers on the market that is designed to age and is unique in Australia,” he said.

The 2017 Extra Strong Vintage Ale is the 17th in the series that goes back to its launch in 1998. It will be available in key venues in August.

Six packs are expected to retail for around $27 at good liquor outlets.

Tasting Notes

When developing our unique, limited release Vintage Ale a key aspect is the careful selection of choice seasonal hops which contribute significantly to the distinctiveness of the brew. For the 2017 edition we have pursued further refinement, and, for the first time in a decade, have revised the grist recipe. This has resulted in an enriched malt flavour which we are certain will be appreciated and enjoyed by passionate ale fans.

The beer is distinguished by its crimson-red colour and full-bodied taste; rich in malt, honey and dry nutty characters, the ale has evolved with the inclusion of a special blend of caramalt. The caramalt contributes well to the balance of bold malt flavours and the softness of a fine and creamy head.

In keeping with its reputation of being bold and robust, this year’s Vintage Ale includes a new combination of bittering and aromatic hop varieties, Denali and Calypso, which deliver a delicate spectrum of fruity aromas. Distinct pineapple and pear characters are a feature alongside pine and citrus notes. This Vintage finishes with a respectable level of bitterness, with an IBU of 50, which integrates well with the fruity, estery flavour of the beer.

With a high alcohol content of 7.5% ABV, this beer is suitable for consuming early, but will also carry well into its journey of maturation for those who wish to cellar and enjoy it in years to come. The seeding of live yeast to carry out bottle conditioning suitably enhances the longevity of this fine ale.

This beer is designed to mature with time, as the bitterness slowly mellows and gives way to rich, sweet, caramel-like characters. We recommend that beer-lovers buy a carton to either enjoy while the ale is in its youth, or to cellar and to savour every few months, or to compare with previous or future Vintages.

A limited number of cartons will be released for sale in August, while key venues will have Vintage available on tap.

Written by

Rick Besserdin is a home brewer and journalist, who specialises in writing about the diverse areas of beer, brewing, and technical automotive.

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