Our local bakery sells a great loaf called “14 cereal bread”, and every time we buy it, which is pretty often, we challenge each other to name 14 different grains. We get to about nine or ten if we’re lucky.
Spelt is a cereal variety I’ve at least heard of, barely. But it’s not one I’d recognise like, say, barley. A 50-kilo sack of spelt could fall on me, and I wouldn’t have any idea what hit me.
And a spelt beer? Dubious. And “bio”, ie organic? Sounds too pure, perhaps. Indeed, I bought this bottle in my favourite eatery in our neighbourhood, La Tsampa: a faux-Tibetan vegetarian restaurant and healthfood shop run by a friendly group of mostly Portuguese Buddhists. Just goes to show, there is a Belgian beer for everyone.
Joseph the spelt beer is cloudy grey-yellow and has a slightly astringent smell. The initial taste suggests a hint of detergent. But nothing in that is immediately off-putting. The body is thick and syrupy, but not at all sweet. It coats the tongue. Very strong yeastiness. (it is bottle fermented) Lightly bitter aftertaste. Low alcohol, 5%.
I’d like to suggest that maybe someone’s washed a sock in this liquid at some point, but that sounds a bit harsh. I don’t mean a dirty sock, if that helps. There’s just something of a woolly residue about the whole thing.
It’s not great, but it’s not horrible either. Perhaps spelt just isn’t the right grain for beer. Perhaps stewed sock is a bit of an acquired taste.