The standard 12 pack variety pack contains either four bottles each of three types of beer, or three bottles each of four types of beer. Makes logical sense. However, the variety pack from Dick’s Brewing out of Centralia, Washington, boasts no less than eight varieties.
This was intriguing since it was a chance to try even more stuff in one go. I expected a complete random assortment, some one bottle, some three bottles etc. Turns out it wasn’t quite as random, which made sense from a production standpoint. The box was arranged with eight of the bottles in four sets of two, and then four singles. So by minimum of eight, it usually means exactly eight. This box contained two IPA, two Mountain Amber, two Cream Stout and two Golden Ale. The four singles were Irish Red, Best Bitter, Grand Cru (Belgian) and Dick Danger (Cascadian Dark/Black IPA).
The first one we opened was the Dick Danger Ale, which they list as their “Flagship” and also as a Cascadian Dark Ale, or Black IPA. Upon opening it was obvious there was a problem. The beer was light brown, see through, very fizzy but like soda, huge bubbles clinging to the side of the glass and no head retention. It tasted flat and caramelish. No hops, no bitterness.
Next we had the Cream Stout and the Mountain Amber. These two weren’t too bad. The Stout was roasty enough to be almost smoky, the Amber was oxidized but not as offensive as the CDA. The last one we tried the first night was the IPA and it was not good. Hoppy beers just don’t age well at all. At this point I’m realizing that all of these beers are just old. Dicks does not print package dates or best by dates on their bottles or the cases and it shows. Who knows how long these have been sitting in the store.
The next night I tried the Golden Ale and it wasn’t too bad. Less hops to go bad, and a milder flavor profile to begin with. The last one I tried was the Grand Cru Belgian, figuring out of any of the styles that one could hold up the most to age. It was OK, but it was still obviously oxidized and it was very sharp and alcoholic. I would wager it may have been higher than the label claim of 10% ABV.
The last two I haven’t tried yet are the Irish Red and the Best Bitter. They are in the fridge right now, but I’m not holding out much hope.
It’s sad really that this could have been a really great variety pack, but just ravaged by time. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how perishable beer is. Just like any food product it has an “expiration” date. Granted, it won’t “spoil”, meaning it won’t go rotten and make you sick, but it can lose a lot of it’s flavor and aroma and just end up not tasting very good.
If we’re ever in Centralia and get a chance to try some fresh, maybe it will be better, but likely not going to take a chance on the variety pack again.