Style: Italian Mixed Fermentation Plum Beer
Brewed in 2014
Ingredients: Barley malt, Damaschine plums, hops, sugar
From: Torino, Italy
Importer’s Note: “This beer is inocculated by wild yeasts (Brettanomyces included) and lactic bacteria. Small, dark and very sweet Damaschine variety plums, also called Ramassin in Piemontese dialect, are added in steeping to restart a new fermentation to characterize the product. BeerBrugna is matured in oak barrels (3hl capacity) for nine months.”
Brewery’s Note: “The unique use of Damaschine plums gives to this extraordinary beer a lot of warm and sensuous fruity notes, facing clear, though never too aggressive, sour and citric flavors. Despite its low pH, this unique beer is well balanced thanks to a remarkable fullness and to impressive fruity flavors persisting for a long time.”
The beer pours silky, tepid, and yet with subtle firmness from the fruit in its body. It sits the color of an ambering rosé, kind of like a blood diamond or a milky amber color. A thin, wispy, and soda-pop-like scrim-ring of glassy white bubbles form above the beer, but the middle of the glass is never capped by their ring. When you swirl the beer in the glass it leaves minute drops of lacing, and a sticky sheen of distortion along the glass wall. It appears clean of particles in the body, yet hazy and faintly cloudy. It is translucent, yet nearly opaque from its distortion and the plum flesh within it. With the wispy ring, the beer is left looking remarkably reminiscent of a rosé, but it has a sexy mysterious to it. It’s exotic as far as beers go, the color is not quite an amber ale, not quite fruit beer, not cloudy as all shit but neither is it clear. On the nose, the beer smells of the fruited lambics of Pajottenland. Brackish pool water swirls over funky cherry fruit leather and slight grass, the fruit-rinsed edges of cheese rind, and this beautiful, formless fruit scent that must be the plum but brings hints of macerated strawberry, raspberry, and even a touch of grape juice to the nostrils. There is a slight honey nuance around the edges of the nose, which really pull the scents together into a lovely whole. This smells very Old World, funky and full of fruit skin; refined, not overly sweet, and just beautiful. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly tart, yet gushing with fruity sweetness that falls to fruit acidity and flavor without the sweetness as the finish dries out the mouth. Subtle oak sugar enters on the finish and aftertaste, alongside oak’s gentle tannic bitters, while the plum skin is softly present throughout the sip with soft bitter skim tannin tangoing with the acidity and keeping the rich fruit sugars in check. The flavor is crisp, tart cherries mingle with grape juice, rosé wine, plum juice, touches of prune juice, and rounded out by waxy hay and mild, mild, mild cheese rind funk, slight tart cider, and beautiful, soft oak that lingers in the finish and aftertaste. The aftertaste also carries a final shiver of sweet plum fruit and dry skin. The taste is exquisitely fresh, yet complex, nuanced, and funky. It evolves and pleases as it opens, turning more towards jammy strawberry notes with balancing hints of the plasticy notes you sometimes get from fermenting strawberries with bretta. In the mouth, the beer is medium bodied, smooth, and sultry, yet with that ‘lambic-like’ roughness of acidity and oak that ruffles and quenches the tongue. When the beer leaves, the tongue is flooded with saliva, while the edges of the mouth feel tingly, yet dry and slightly astringent. The beer feels tingly and fresh, yet with the lingering ooze of fruit flesh. Overall, this is a beautiful mixed fermentation ale with fruit, made in the Old World (read: Belgian Lambic) style. Delicate, dry yet full of fruit flavor, begging for foods, perhaps even fried fish; this beer is wonderful to sip. I was a little concerned with the languid head, but the more I have of this beer, the more I love it. LoverBeer has left me underwhelmed with previous beers given the import price (Nebulin-a) but this is 100% worth the asking price and more, and is just a beautiful beer.
On a side note, the drinking of this beer comes at an interesting time in Italian “Craft Beer.” Call it the “Goose Island Moment” for them, but Del Borgo’s sellout to AB Inbev has some very interesting ramifications, especially in regards to Duchessic. I’ve enjoyed my Del Borgo beer’s in the past, and I certainly hope that the quality does not dip. Time will tell. Drink the beer you like folks. Don’t drink the beer you don’t. Cheers and beers.