Much has been written and debated recently about beer and its provenance. Plenty has been said about claiming what, perhaps, is not rightly ones to claim and that this can detract from those using real stories and real places to add marketing value to a brand. Thankfully, a new beer soon to hit these shores has some truth to its story – even if the story is a fairy tale!
Melusine is the name of a small, independent artisanal brewery from a tiny picturesque corner of western France called the Vendee. The author knows a little about this region due to hosting exchange students from the very town from which these beers travel – although none thought to bring me any samples!
Melusine takes its name and, I suspect, some of its whimsical ethos from the Fairy Queen of Colombiers forest. Melusine is a mythical water spirit who protects the Vendee and its precious natural resources. The brewers pay homage of sorts to her by incorporating local and native ingredients including local grains, plants and eau de source. That’s French, by the way. I don’t know much French except that Yoplait is, in fact, NOT French for yoghurt.
Australia is the first export destination for Mesuline’s small batch craft beers. Having tasted the range recently at Slowbeer in Melbourne it is indeed an honour to be deemed worthy. The beers are different, well crafted and filled with interest and complexity separate from any back story or mythical provenance.
Love & Flowers is as good a way to begin your journey as any and despite the contrary branding on this label which suggests a very 70’s hippie flower-power attitude, it is decidedly Gallic. Rose petals give this biere blanche a subtle Turkish Delight note and is certified organic. Judicious use of hops offsets the flowery notes nicely.
La Cervoise picks up the pace with a 6.5% copper coloured ale laced with honey and myrtle aromas and subtle hop character allowing the caramel maltiness to shine. The name is taken from the ancient language of the Gauls and refers to a cereal drink made only by the Druids for preparing warriors for battle. Too many, however and you could easily hand the enemy a ‘walkover’.
La Nonnette is a delightful nickname for Nuns – which culture doesn’t have a few good ones!? – and is in the style of a Belgian dark ale. a warm deep brown this ale had all the complexity and moreishness of a typical brown with a nutty backbone and a pleasant hop flourish. A nice habit to get into. The mouthfeel derives a nice creaminess from the addition of buckwheat and spelt.
What better way to finish our first meeting with the water nymph than with an 8.5% golden blond ale called Puy d’Enfer – Hell in the Well. Primary and secondary fermentation with a final bottle conditioning gives this brew a heady aroma of ripe fruit, raisins and a bold malty sweetness. Named for the Puy du Fou, the scene of many a bloody battle during the French Revolution. Let them eat cake, my arse!
The legend concludes with the reminder that the water in the Vendee is blessed by Melusine and that all that respect and believe in her powers and draw from the water shall be blessed. There is more than just a little solace to be found in sipping ales as beautiful as those that bear the name of Melusine.
Melusine bieres artisanales are brought to you by Loire Valley Imports and should be seen sneaking magically onto shelves in the coming weeks.