beer reviews bottled beer

Magical Mystery Pour #9: LoverBeer Madamin

The latest batch of Magical Mystery Pour beers was chosen for us by The Beer Nut (@thebeernut) and what connects them is that they are all, in his words, ‘geek bait’.

Magical Mystery Pour logo.We suggested several online retailers to The Beer Nut and he selected from the range on offer at Beer Gonzo:

  • LoverBeer BeerBera
  • LoverBeer Madamin
  • Troubadour Westkust
  • Troubadour Magma Triple Spiked Brett
  • Bell’s Two-Hearted

We decided to start with the lowest ABV beer, Madamin, from Italian brewery Loverbeer, at 6.2%. It is described as an oak-aged amber ale in the Belgian tradition. It came in a 330ml bottle which cost — are you sitting down? — £13.50.

We’re going to talk about value at the end but first we tried to react to the beer itself, putting all that other stuff out of our minds. Did we like how it tasted; and why, or why not?

We managed a clear pour. It looked extremely appetising, rich red-brown with a decent but not extravagant, oatmeal-coloured head of foam.

Top view of the head on Madamin.

We knew it was going to be sour before we tasted it because there was an aggressive acidic tang in the air — the sting of vinegar and (we’re not sure if we imagined this one) even perhaps a hint of milk-gone-bad. We’re not super huge fans of sour beer (or sour milk for that matter) so this didn’t immediately get us salivating.

It tasted… Intriguing. The sourness was there but not overwhelming — not the kind of ratchet around the gums that can turn a beer into a macho endurance challenge — and balanced with a lot of other bold flavours. A pronounced, unsubtle oakiness combined with some sour cherry and blackcurrant, and mouth-coating booziness, made it feel more like wine than beer. Rustic home made fruit wine if we’re being generous; rough budget corner-shop red otherwise. The reminder that this is beer after all comes from a lasting bitterness which switched between jarring and interesting from one mouthful to the next.

With this beer, there was no easy answer to the question ‘Do we like it?’ but we definitely didn’t hate it, and kept coming back for more, if only because we spotted something new each time. At one point, the acid and fruit coalesced to suggest grapefruit, and later on we started thinking about chocolate… The point is, there’s a lot going on, and if you enjoy complicated, challenging art-house beers then this one will definitely get your beret spinning.

So that’s us reacting to The Thing Itself. Now, let’s put it in context. For the price we paid — and we’re simply too stingy to have done so without The Beer Nut’s nudging — we could have picked up a 750ml bottle of St Austell’s similarly complex and wine-like Tamar Kriek, or five bottles of Rodenbach Grand Cru. Or a hell of a lot of cheap red wine. Even though we kind of enjoyed it it wasn’t a profound experience, or completely DELIGHTFUL, so there’s absolutely no way we can say it’s worth £13.50 except perhaps to the most obsessive of tickers.

11 replies on “Magical Mystery Pour #9: LoverBeer Madamin”

I’m a pretty obsessive ticker and I wouldn’t have parted with £13.50, at pre or post Brexit rates, for this. The answer to many an expensive new-wave sour beer is “yes but Rodenbach”.

Are you serious? £13.50 for a 330ml bottle of a 6.2% beer. Even Westvleteren 12 doesn’t cost that much, and it’s 4% stronger! How does the brewery justify charging that sort of price? Presumably because people are mug enough to pay it.

Sorry, but there’s no beer in the world worth that much; even if you are an “obsessive ticker”.

The brewery isn’t charging that, Beer Gonzo is. I can see Madamin for €11 on a Dutch site and $13 on an American one. I’m sure it’s cheaper still if buying from the brewery.

I am agreeing with you Bailey, although at the same time I am questioning why you forked out such a large sum for what, by you own admissions, is not a particularly special beer. I say this because I have this picture of you being quite careful with money; not a bad thing of course!

Well, we didn’t know it wasn’t special until we tried it but, mostly, it was because the way this works is that we ask our guest (sorry) ‘curators’ to choose beers for us within an overall budget, and this fits. Most of the other beers TBN chose were much cheaper.

The brewer I think operates on a very small scale (1 possibly 2 employees) . He buys some pretty rare barrels from some of Italy’s best wine regions (Barolo, barbera etc) and he puts a lot of time into the maturing of the beers in barrels. Lastly the Italian tax system is pretty brutal when it comes to export with taxes being chucked on beer left,right and centre (is easy target compared with working class wine) The beers represent a fair purchase whilst in Italy but by the time they reach the UK the price is a bit distorted. Just for the record I believe many Lost Abbey beers from California rival Lover beer in terms of prices.

The excise that Italian brewers pay is pretty steep, and the small brewers don’t any help like they do here in Ireland. Becks pay the same excise as Loverbeer, and then in these neoliberal days the general rule is the bigger you are the less corporation tax you pay. Then the importer has to pay import excise to their member state, which in Ireland and England is quite prohibitive and works off the decimal points of alcohol. Loverbeer’s beers are not cheap as regards cost price but they are fair. An immense amount of time and care and effort goes into those beers in what is a very small small brewery desparate for it’s own space. 13 English pounds is a bit much, but the BeerNut can get it for much less here in Dublin, and we just got in a new shipment of the 375ml bottles of a range of their beers, which are also a few quid cheaper than what ye paid for that 33cl bottle, and that’d be drinking in, in a winebar.

Comments are closed.