Monday, February 20, 2012

The Devil's Saddler

Roughly tranlsated, "Sella del Diavolo" means "The Devil's Saddler" or "Seat of the Devil."  It is one of the beers from Birrificio Barley or "Barley.""  Barley is a small craft brewer based in Maracalagonis, a town on the island of Sardinia.  Barley produces three year round beers, including the Sella del Diavolo.

The Sella del Diavolo is brewed in the style of a Bière de Garde.  This style is a farmhouse ale typically brewed in northern France.  The name, "Bière de Garde," translates roughly into "beer that has been kept or lagered."  Traditionally, the beer is brewed in early spring and then kept in cold cellars until the summertime. 

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, a Bière de Garde can be blond, amber or brown in color, with a malty sweet aroma and a taste that features toffee or caramel.  A Bière de Garde draws more from the malts used to produce the beer than the hops.  Indeed, there is usually little to no hop flavor in this style of beer. 

The brewer, Barley, describes the Sella del Diavolo as having a "[w]inking amber color with orange reflections plus cream colored and persistent foam [that] reveals ... [the] torrified malts promising biscuit and roasted flavors."  This description is largely accurate, with the beer's amber color having dark copper or rust tones.  

As for the taste of the Sella del Diavolo, the brewer describes the beer as a  "cohabitation" between "caramel and fruity (plums and morello cherry) notes and peppery and herbal notes coming from a long-sighted use of aromatic hops."  The brewer adds, "[w]arm and vinuous in the palate with an appropriate dryness giving it a good between the sweet fruity, roasted, slightly smoked notes and a long, dry, very bitter aftertaste."  For me, the beer definitely had a caramel flavor, but the supporting flavors were not so much fruit, but bready, biscuity flavors.  There was a warmness, but the beer did not have the roasted, smoky notes.  This may be due to the age of the beer, because I am not sure how long it sat on the shelves before I bought it and it was in our basement for a few months.  

The brewer recommends pairing this beer with roast lamb or piglet which is slowly cooked over a fire, as well as medium but not to salty cheeses.  Those suggestions are definitely spot on for this beer,although you do not need to roast an entire animal.  The beer goes will with grilled or broiled steaks, lamb chops, and/or pork chops.    

This beer is hard to find in beer stores.  We found this beer at State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland, where, if I recall correctly, it sold for about $20.00 a bottle.


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