Monday, August 6, 2018

The Coelacanth Grand Cru

I am truly fascinated by the coelacanth. With its long body, lobed (or limb-like) fins and scaly armored skin, the coelacanth (SEE-luh-canth) is thought to be a link between fish  and tetrapods (a four-footed animal).  But, it was also thought to have gone extinct sixty-six million years ago.  

That was until eighty (80) years ago, on December 23, 1938, when Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer found a coelacanth among the catch of a local fisherman, Captain Hendrick Goosen, who had been working the waters of southeastern Africa.  Courtenay-Latimer passed along information about the fish to an ichthyologist at Rhodes University.  The response was emphatic: "MOST IMPORTANT PRESERVE SKELETON AND GILLS = FISH DESCRIBED."  Since that time, the coelacanth has been sighed around eastern South Africa, but also around the Comoros Islands and even several thousand miles away near the Indonesian islands. 

There is a coelacanth closer to home. Actually, it is Coelacanth Brewing Company in Norfolk, Virginia.  The brewery is a lot like the fish, it asserts its uniqueness.  The focus centers on "unique takes on classic styles."   One of those beers is the Grand Cru, which is a Belgian Sparkling Blond Ale that is aged in oak barrels for ten (10) months. 

The Grand Cru pours a pale yellowish, honey color, with a slightly hazy complexion.  Although it does not show in the pictures, a slight fizzy foam developed as the beer was poured into the glass.  That fizz is reminiscent of a sparkling wine, and, it recedes as quickly as the fizz of such a wine, leaving a thin wispy foam that graces the surface of the liquid.  

As the beer sits, gentle aromas of lemon, grass and flowers emerge from the surface of the beer.  The elements are subtle, leaving some questions as to what to expect with the first taste.  That first sip provided some elements that one would find with a brett beer.  There was a slight green apple taste that could be found with the more traditional taste elements of lemon and citrus.  I am not sure the brett character was intended by the brewers, but, even if it was not, the beer was still interesting and good.  

I found this beer at a beer store in Williamsburg, Virginia, where it sold for a little more than $9.00 per bottle.  Coelacanth does not brew this beer anymore, but, if it ever does again, I might make my way to Norfolk to try it on the tap.  Until next time ...


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