Magical Mystery Pour #9: LoverBeer Madamin

Madamin in the glass with open bottle behind.

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 thoughts on “Magical Mystery Pour #9: LoverBeer Madamin”

  1. 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”.

  2. 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”.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

  3. 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.

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