Saturday, April 26, 2014


"Kukumerla is an odd name."  So say the brewers.  To say that it is an odd name is to simply note the obvious.  If one were to go beyond the obvious, there is much more to explore.  The word "Kukumerla" is inspired by a legend known as the "Days of the Blackbird" or the "dead of winter."

The legend unfolded during the coldest days of the year.  The air was so cold that sources that all of the denizens, including the birds, struggled to find heat.  Some of the birds were able to huddle on the top of chimneys of the local buildings.  Those birds basked in the heat which came from the fires tended by the townsfolk in their fireplaces.  However, as the birds warmed themsleves, the soot from the smoke turned their feathers black.  From that day foreward, the birds became black birds.

The legend comes from the city of Chieri, which is the home of Birrifico Grado Plato.  I first encountered Grado Plato at an Italian craft beer tasting.  The beer was the Strado San Felice.  The beer piqued my interest and I looked out for more of their offerings. That is how I found the Kukumerla.

The beer is Birrificio Grado Plato's take on an English barleywine. An English barleywine -- as opposed to an American barleywine -- is malt first, hops second.  (An American barleywine is the opposite). As such, both the aromas and the taste should feature elements of bread, biscuit, toast and caramel.  

The Kukumerla fits itself nicely within the style of an English barleywine.  The beer pours a reddish brown in color.  The brownish hues show through in the right light, allowing for a little redness along the edges.  The aroma is full of sweet raisins, caramel, toffee and Belgian candy.  There is no hint of any hops in the aromatic profile of this beer.  The hops are also absent from the taste.  The elements are malt driven, with ripe fruit such as raisins and plums, joined by caramel and a little molasses.  In the end, this beer is one of the sweetest examples of an English barleywine that I have tried.  The sweetness was a lot, but not too much, as it did not turn me off from the beer. 

The brewers suggest that the beer is best enjoyed with traditional Christmas cakes, dried fruits, nougat, Madernasse baked pears or stewed apples, sweetened with sugar.  The suggestions clearly play on the sweetness of the beer.

This beer is available at craft beer stores with a large international selection.  A bottle sells for about $17.99 to $19.99.


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