Mar 27, 2012

Shipyard Brewing Double Old Thumper (1 Year Tasting)

2011 Double Old Thumper photo

A little over a year ago, I received a three bottles of Shipyard Brewing’s newly released Double Old Thumper Ale, an imperial ESB based on their classic (and a personal favorite) Old Thumper Ale. Upon receiving the samples, I knew immediately what I had to do. And so the decision was made to review a fresh bottle and set the other two down for a series of vintage tastings — one and two year reviews.

The first year anniversary is finally here after a long wait and it’s time to crack one open. Many bottles of beer I’ve run across that have been cellared for any amount of time don’t actually get better with that aging. They just change. Well, after just one year this big ESB has certainly changed, but is it for the better?


After a year in the basement, the brew pours less copper and more of an orange-tinted amber with a slight haze. The head was creamy, dense and seemed to last forever.


The nose on this beer has changed a great deal, but not in the way I had expected. More often than not, it’s the hop character of a beer that is the first to fade. With this bottle of Double Thumper, however, the herbal and spicy hops are just as pronounced as ever, even bringing in a strong orange rind presence. The malt backbone seems to have stepped down some, with less of a caramel trait, but still retaining a solid bit of sweetness. The alcohol is still on the nose, but in a more subdued fashion.


Wow. This beer may have started out as an ESB, but it’s a full-blown English barleywine now. A moderate malt character and solid sweetness come in initially, but are soon accompanied by orange peel, marmalade, herbal hops and a welcoming warmth in the dry finish. The beer’s soft carbonation and surprisingly full mouthfeel make for a beer that is smooth on the palate and still just as devilishly drinkable as it was fresh — if not more so now.


No beer remains the same after time in the cellar. They all change. Some for the better. Many more not so much. This bottle of Shipyard’s Double Old Thumper, in my humble opinion, appears to have been one of the lucky few that has improved with age. It’s fully come into its own as a barleywine that has an incredibly smooth hop character and sweetness that lingers just the right amount with an 11.2% ABV to make for a delicious, post-dinner sipper. I’m not sure if the last bottle I received from the brewery will survive long enough see its second birthday.

Rating: 4.25/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

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