Sometime in March of last year I picked up a 4-pack of North Coast Old Stock Ale, 2009 batch. This beer is intended to be aged. I opened on bottle over the summer, figuring it to be about a year old at that point. It was a little harsh and relatively unbalanced, and the bitterness and alcohol bite only seemed to get stronger and rather unpleasant as it warmed up. I don't think I finished it. Obviously, I did this to see what the beer is like at an early age.
Last night I opened my second bottle and the results were noticeably different. It's more balanced, sweeter, with a nice earthy woodiness, a little caramel, maybe some cocoa and vanilla. Still has a bit of the alcohol bite like the first bottle. I'm thinking the third bottle will get opened another year or 18 months from now. I could probably buy another vintage to see it ages and even how the different years compare to each other... but I'm not sure I want to make my beer drinking so complicated.