Like much of the wine trade, whenever there is a lot of wine around I start thinking of beer – wine can make you pretty thirsty and there is something magically refreshing and restorative about a clean, cold lager or ale. It gets the red wine stains out of your mouth better than anything else too.
So, whilst browsing around the London International Wine Trade Fair Last week these cool, moisture beaded bottles really caught my attention. They looked so refreshing and enticing on that hot day when I was stuck in a vast badly air conditioned hall.
Then I saw it was a beer, it was in the Wines from Spain area, so it might have been a wine! The next thing I noticed was that it was a beer from Estrella Damm which is one of my two absolute favourite Spanish beers – since you ask the other is Alhambra Reserva 1925.
Estrella damm is the main brewer in Barcelona where they have produced an excellent pilsner beer since 1876, I know a lot of people do not really approve of lagers, wrongly assuming them all to be flavour-less and character-less and somehow less interesting than ales, but bear with me – don’t let that put you off.
This was no Estrella Damm that I had seen before – for a start it was presented in an elegant, almost Prosecco-like 75cl bottle, then it had an intriguing second name; Inedit and it was billed as ‘the dining beer’. I suppose this explains the bottle size, it is a ‘dinning beer’ meant to be enjoyed with food, so a large bottle to share over a meal is exactly what is needed. The stylish presentation, of course is very much in keeping with Catalan tradition of innovative design that includes Gaudí, Miró, Miralles, Sala and Picasso.
However to foodies and bon viveurs the most famous Catalan trend setter would be Ferran Adrià, chef at El Bulli restaurant – that legendary home to innovative cooking. Ferran together with his manager Juli Soler and El Bulli’s sommelier’s worked with Estrella Damm to produce a sophisticated and complex beer that would partner food and Inedit is the rather fine result. The name means ‘never been done before‘ by the way.
The finished beer is a blend of lager and wheat beer, which gives it more flavour, complexity and acidity than apilsner – all of which make it great with food – it also keeps it less gassy.
Wheat beers are in effect a form of ale as they are top fermented and the often citrus-like flavour can be enhanced by the addition of botanicals, or flavouring agents to the grains. With Inedit they add malted barley, coriander and orange peel to the wheat and these really show up in the finished beer, especially on the fresh, citrussy aroma. As with most wheat beers Inedit is slightly cloudy and the aromas are a little yeasty, but the coriander and orange peel do get through.
The palate is lovely and soft, almost like mountain water in texture, while the flavours are delicate, but interesting, complex, slightly spicy and persistent. The wine is barely gassy at all, with just enough mousse to keep it lively, while the acidity keeps the whole thing fresh, cleansing and long.
I enjoyed it on its own from a wine glass and I look forward to trying it sometime in the approved glassware – Riedel wheat beer perhaps? I will try it with food soon, I think it would go with a lot of different styles, the soft ungassy palate and touch of spice make it a great choice with Indian food and other asian cuisine.
This is a delicious and intriguing beer, I think I will drink a great deal of it over the summer. I know that the large bottle means that it is for sharing, but….
Estrella Damm Inedit is available from Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Highbury Vinters £4.99-£5.99