A Damm Fine Spanish Beer?
Last Month, Alick Howard wrote about beer (following Andy Wilkes' Wine article) bemoaning the fact that there's not much in the way of Real Beer around here. He wasn't bitter about it – he’s come to appreciate a good cold draught of lager. He pointed out that only Southern-Jessie Wine-Drinkers go in for things like 'tasting notes', finicky glasses, soppy descriptions and poncey taste-pairings.
Guardian blogger Tony Naylor, like Alick, is not a natural lover of lager. But Spanish lagers are different - he doesn't merely sneer at them, he loathes them. He says Cruz campo is anonymous, San Miguel has an acrid aftertaste and “Ma-poo” is, I quote: “actually offensive: thick, inordinately frothy, cloyingly sweet”.
It doesn't seem likely, then, that a new Spanish beer would appear that might appeal to both a Neolithic northern beer drinker like Alick and a picky professional gastronome like Naylor. But, look out: here comes a new, boundary-crossing Spanish beer. This is what happens when you take an established brewery – in this case, Estrella Damm – and team it up with an avant-garde, haute-cuisine specialist from a 3 star Michelin restaurant – in this case Ferran Adriá from Barcelona's El Bulli restaurant in Barcelona. Into this mix, throw a couple of top drawer Sommeliers (wine buffs, Alick) – Fernan “Best Sommelier in Spain 2006” Centelles and Davíd “Golden Nose 2006” Seijas. The result is an extraordinary brew.
It's called “Inedit” and it's served in a wine sized, 750ml black bottle. It should, the website advises, be served chilled, in half-filled large white wine glasses. The tasting notes say things like:
“Fruity and floral to the nose, with a yeasty sensation and sweet spices reminiscences”
And it's meant to be paired with certain foods. Vinegar-based sauces, asparagus and oily fish dishes are suggested. Adriá boasts that Inedit is the “first gastronomic beer”, which I think will come as a surprise to some of the centuries old breweries in Belgium, German and Britain. Suggested 'food pairings' include various salads, vinegar-based sauces, asparagus, artichokes, fatty and oily fish and citrus.
But, for all the wine-connoisseur wrappings, it is a beer. No, honestly! It's brewed with a mixture of malt and wheat. Beer forums give it mixed responses: they love it, they hate it – but they all agree it is a beer. Naylor likes it; he compares it to Belgian white beer; softly carbonated with a restrained flavour.
Obviously it is a poncey beer. You won't be able to pick up a bottle for €1 at the Supermercado. You have to order it on the Internet or book into a handful of super-posh restaurants. In the UK it retails for around £15 (ouch). But for all that it isn't a bad thing if Spain get's interested in making more beer, especially more interesting beers. You never know, they might even make some that are both refreshing and tasty …and even (oh joy) affordable.
In the meantime I look forward to trying out Inedit when I'm next in the money. I will be 'pairing' it with a Vegetable Bhuna and Pilau Rice.