Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Cuivre

Over the past several years, I have reviewed over 180 beers.   My general rule is that I review only beers that I like.  (As the old saying goes, if you have nothing good to say, don't say it.)  Quite a few times in the past, I have said to myself, "this is the best beer that I have had."  As I write this post, I find myself saying that again.  The beer in question is the Cuivre, the seventh anniversary ale brewed by The Breuery.  

This is not my first encounter with a beer from The Breuery.  I have previously reviewed the Saison de Lente, a Belgian style saison, The unique characteristic of that beer, according to the brewers, was the use of Brettanomyces or wild yeast.  While I liked that beer, it was not one of the best that I ever had for that style, whether a saison or a brett beer.  That award would go to Birrificio del Ducato for its Nuova Mattina (Belgian-Style Saison, which is also a finalist for one of my all-time favorites) and the Orval (breet beer).  

But when it comes to an English Old Ale, the Cuivre is the best one that I have ever had.  The Cuivre is the seventh anniversary ale for the brewery, "loosely brewed in the English-style old ale tradition" using the "house Belgian yeast strain" and then blended using the solara method.  I learned a lot about this method back in 2006, when I was in Emilia Romagna and visited Acetaia del Tuono, which used that method to produce balsamic vinegar.  The solera method requires a series of barrels, each one filled with the product at a particular interval, such as a year.  Eventually, you have the oldest vintage, followed by the next, and the next, until you get to the youngest vintage.  Some of the oldest vintage is removed from the barrel and bottled.  That barrel is then filled with some from the second oldest vintage.  The barrel with the second oldest vintage is filled with some from the third oldest vintage and so on.  This method is commonly used for balsamic vinegar, wine and brandy.  Not so much for beer. 

The solera process is what gives the Cuivre its distinct personality and sets the beer apart from nearly every other beer.  The Cuivre is not so much a beer, as it is a digestif like brandy.  

The Cuivre pours a dark earth brown, like newly tilled, moist soil right before the first planting.  As the beer rests in the glass, aromatic elements of sherry, leather and tanned hide greet the nostrils.  These are not typical ethers one would expect from a beer.  There are more common elements, such as oak and vanilla there as well.  The aroma provides a warning.  This is not a beer that is to be consumed quickly.  It is to be sipped, enjoyed slowly over the course of the night.  

That warning is reinforced by the taste of the Cuivre.  The beer contained many of the notes that were present in the taste of the beer.  There was a lot of boozy dark fruit, such as plums and figs, along with sugar, vanilla and notes in the beer.  Although I don't drink brandy, I would think that there was some brandy notes as well.  There was definitely some notes that could be likened to that digestif.  

The Cuivre is an excellent beer and, like the Nuova Mattina, would be among the finalists for one of my all-time favorites.  It is too bad that this beer was brewed for the 7th Anniversary of The Bruery.  It makes me wish that every day for The Bruery could be its 7th Anniversary.  Until next time ...


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