Article by Simonmattia Riva, Biersommelier
"Rock won't eliminate your problems. But it will let you sort of dance all over them." (Pete Townshend)
In a different, yet somewhat complementary way, Billy Idol argues that rock is not art, but just the language of ordinary people. It might not be the most elegant language, but it is certainly blunt, unabashed, and understood by all.
Since the very beginning, Baladin beers have played unusual, sophisticated music: sometimes medieval jigs or baroque rhythms, at other times melodies inspired by traditional Mediterranean or Middle Eastern traditions. But since 2009, with the launch of Open, rock has also started to echo among the fermenters in Piozzo.
The beer made with an “open” recipe available to all, featured in a memorable edition of the homebrewer competition Una birra per l'estate, was in fact Teo Musso's first creation to show a distinct hoppy character and to be designed for pub goers, rather than for restaurant customers.
Open was the starting point for many new versions, including Rolling Stones. It was created to celebrate the 100th issue of the Italian edition of the famous magazine and then took on the more comprehensive name of Rock'n'Roll.
The label is black, like most of the clothing in the closets of rockers around the world. The metal crown cap - which does not require the elaborate ceremonial of wax removal and cork extraction and is the most common way of closing beer bottles worldwide – immediately shows, even before opening the bottle, that Rock and Roll speaks a different language from other Baladin beers.
In a beer explicitly inspired by music, the sense of hearing also plays a role: the opening of Rock'n'Roll generates a characteristic whiff that reveals its distinctive strong fizz, for Baladin’s standards.
Poured into an American pint - the glass that has accompanied North American-style hopped beers since their appearance at the dawn of the overseas craft movement - it has a deep golden color with orange hues and a natural opalescence, as it is not filtered. The generous head is white, thick, fine and long lasting: the essential oils contained in hops help create a nice, vigorous foam.
When you first smell it, its aromas take you to an orange grove: sweet orange peel is the first scent to hit the nostrils. After a few seconds, they are tickled by an unexpected and unmistakable peppery touch.
After taking a few sips, the scents shift towards more defined and sinuous sensations, with a clear presence of candied orange peel and pungent, spicy notes that remind us of black pepper and Sichuan pepper.
When sipped, the expected lively carbonation and a marked savory, almost saline note support the taste resulting from the interplay of malts and hops, reminiscent of orange marmalade spread on a slice of homemade bread.
On the palate, however, the malty sweetness wanes in intensity while a more straightforward bitter note of orange pulp emerges, crowned by a pungent hint of Sichuan pepper. The taste then takes another turn toward citrus zest, which is sharply felt between the midpalate and the finish. The finish is bitter, as the style requires, but with no harshness, and is enriched by a distinctive spiciness.
Indeed, the citrusy finish is closer to the feminine softness of orange peel than the masculine roughness of hop pellets, yet it is reinvigorated by the unique and strong presence of pepper, which comes back in the aftertaste alongside a hint of thick-cut orange marmalade.
One of the most peculiar characteristics of Rock'n'Roll - in addition to the not-too-thin body due to the presence of a significant amount of residual sugar, as many other Baladin beers - is the silky, almost juicy texture that envelops and caresses the tongue and palate. Along with the body, this helps mitigate the perception of bitterness and spiciness.
A rock beer that intertwines its American roots with the Mediterranean sun and chooses an outdoor summer arena, amid citrus and spicy scents, to stage its concert of aromas and flavors.