He had taunted and tormented me for most of my adult life. Alexander was his name. He was acidic and slightly aggressive they said, but I couldn’t be sure; I had never encountered him in person.
He also wasn’t a man—he was a beer. A legendary Flanders red, in fact, courtesy of Belgium’s famed Brouwerij Rodenbach, Alexander was aged in giant oak vats and macerated with sour cherries. The last batch of him—I mean, it—had been brewed in 1999 and released in 2000, coincidentally right around the time I first got into beer. I never got to sample that final batch.
For most of the aughts I tried in earnest to get my hands on an old dusty bottle depicting Alexander’s stern face. I just wanted to see: could it possibly be as good as everyone said? Although bottles of it often appeared on beer’s online black market, I was never able to snag one. Oh why couldn’t Rodenbach just brew it again?!
Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and seventeen years after it’s supposed “final” release, a new batch of Rodenbach Alexander hit the market back in April. It was delightful. (And, around the same time, I finally landed that 1999 bottle as well, for comparison purposes.) This tale of Alexander is not a unique one, unfortunately. So often breweries strike gold with a certain release, sending beer geeks into a tizzy—and then never again do they brew that damn beer.
Did they forget the recipe? Can they no longer find certain ingredients or unique barrels? Did they lose their brewer? Or are they simply trying to create retired legends that are perhaps remembered more fondly in our minds than were the realities on our palates?
Now that Alexander is finally back, here are 8 other beers we wish would dust off their sneakers and jockstraps, and come out of retirement.