Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Pietra Bière Ambrée

I first read about the Corsican Brasserie Pietra and its amber chestnut beer last year and really wanted to give it a try. I'd forgotten all about it until my colleague Henning came back from a holiday in Corsica with what sounds like a suitcase-load of the stuff. Being a thoughtful chap, he left one on my desk for me...

Pietra is brewed with a proportion of chestnut flour, particularly significant as Corsica has a long association with the chestnut, for centuries considering them to be part of the staple diet and using it much as other cultures would use grain crops for making bread. According to the Lonely Planet guide to Corsica, in the 1880's they were harvesting some 150,000 tonnes of chestnuts, but by 2004 this was down to 1,200 tonnes due to a general decline after WWI, disease and the use of the timber in early chemical industries for tannin extraction. By all accounts, Pietra is helping a small resurgence in the chestnut culture, so they should be congratulated for being one of only two breweries on Corsica (thanks to Laurent Mousson for the correction) and for integrating a piece of true Corsican culture into their beer range. But what it is like?

Pietra pours a bright amber with a fairly dense off-white head. The aroma is quite sweet, taking a mandarin-like tone. I'd like to think I can smell chestnuts, but it's probably more accurate to describe it as a marzipan-like undertone. The flavour isn't what I expected though. It's a little woody and, dare I say it, there's a chestnut flavour deep down there somewhere. It has a caramel sweetness, a little nuttiness and hints of dried fruit around the edges. The 6% ABV provides a touch of alcohol warmth to the flavour. There's a gentle, tingling bitterness and a sweet, grape-like fruitiness to the finish that lingers.

It's certainly a bit different, and although it has a strange mix of flavours and gets a bit sticky sweet as it warms, on balance, I quite liked the warmth and nuttiness of it. Worth a try if you see it.

7 comments:

Bailey said...

Another beer which is more interesting than it is pleasant. I think your tasting note is bang on -- sticky, caramel-like.

BarryM (Adeptus) said...

That's a good way of putting it, Bailey :D

Ed said...

I have some of these beers a few years back. If I remember rightly there were a couple of versions, all, I have to agree, too sweet.

Laurent Mousson said...

There's three beers produced by Pietra that are widely distributed : Pietra itself, Colomba, a blanche/wit which ditched the coriander/curaçao thing in favour of an herbal mix including thyme (lovely with white fish) and Serena, a rather undistinctive pale lager.

BTW Pietra is not the only brewery on Corsica. There's also the Brasserie Artisanale A Tribbiera and the Brasserie de Corse. The latter apparently now produces its beer in Corsica after a few years having the beer contract-brewed by Duyck in northern France.

BarryM (Adeptus) said...

I haven't had the pleasure of trying theor other beers, Ed. All I know about them is what I have read on their website.

Thanks for the correction, Laurent. My information was clearly out of date!

Thyme in a beer sounds interesting. I've been considering making an oregano beer for some time (not thyme).

Laurent Mousson said...

Well, there's alot thatcan be done with hers in the thyme / rosemary / sage / oregano side of things. 'Round these parts, for example Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes' 'La Meule' is a very interesting 6% hoppy blonde ale - broadly on Saison Dupont lines - with a healthy does of sage. Works well with many itlain-style dishes, white meat and white fish. And on its own too.

BarryM (Adeptus) said...

Hmm, sounds interesting. A colleague is moving down to Zurich. I'll have to see if he'll bring some back up here if he visits.