Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Beersell Kind of Morning ...

It is interesting how bad news can turn into good news.  During the summer of 2009, 3 Fonteinen Brewery of Beersel, Belgium -- which is known for its Geuze and Lambic beers -- suffered a catastrophe.  Its equipment was damaged and the brewery was in a bind.  The brewery had to sell its beer ... and there were buyers.  One such buyer was Birrificio del Ducato, an Italian craft brewer located in Emilia-Romagna.  The Italian brewers drove to Beelsel to purchase three 18 month old Lambic barrels full of beer.  They brewers headed back on a journey that was, in their words, "long and hard," making their way through Belgium, France and Italy.  They only stopped for gas.  Time could not be wasted, because they were on a mission.

That mission was to blend some of 3 Fonteinen Brewery's Lambic with Del Ducato's Nuova Mattina or "New Morning."  The Nuova Mattina is a Belgian-inspired Saison brewed with spices, ginger, coriander, green peppers and chamomile.  Standing on its own right, the Nuova Mattina is an amazing beer.  In fact, it is my favorite beer brewed in Italy.   The brewers at Birrificio del Ducato had greater designs with that beer ... namely, to blend the Nuova Mattina with the 3 Fonteinen's Lambic.  The blend is 82% Nuova Mattina and 18% 3 Fontenien's Lambic.  The blended beer is then aged for at least 18 months in the bottle before it was released upon the public.

The brewers at Birrificio del Ducato believed that they created a beer with a "surprisingly citrus nose of leather, cellar and animal with hints of dried flowers and honey."  They claimed that, "lasting and sapid in the mouth," the "sour finish" of the Beersel Mattina will "always makes the lovers of this blend smile." 

The Beersel Mattina pours a surprising nice orange color, with a rather thin foam.  The aromatic elements include some sour or tart fruit, along with some yeast-like ethers.  These aromas are definitely the work of the Lambic beer, because it is far different from the scents of flowers, grasses and pepper that feature so prominently in the Nuova Mattina.   I am not sure I would go as far as saying that the beer has a nose of leather, cellar and animal, but there is a little citrus wrapped up in that tartness.  

As for the taste, the Beersel Mattina demonstrates how a smaller amount of a stronger beer (the Lambic) could so dominate over the rest of the beer (the Nuova Mattina).  The body of the beer is substantial, but not overwhelming.  There is definitely a tartness, a funkiness, that some people might describe as a little barnyard.  For me, it is more like sour cherries, Brettanomycess yeast, and some wood.  The tartness or sourness is up front, but it eventually gives way to some more easily recognized citrus flavors, like lemon or orange.  

When it comes to pairing a beer such as the Beersel Mattina, that could be quite a feat.  The "barnyard" or funky flavors of the beer are hard to match with the flavors of food.  However, one website provides some recommendations at least when it comes to cheese.  The recommendations included cheeses like Gouda, Romano and blue cheese.  

My beautiful Angel found this beer at a beer store in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Given its history, I fear that there are not many bottles out there.  If you come across one, and you like sour beers, this is worth a try.

ENJOY!

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