Article by Simonmattia Riva, Biersommelier
Caress the details! The divine details! wrote Vladimir Nabokov, the “father” of timeless Lolita. Teo Musso, the “father” of Baladin has often stated that he wants to create beers that caress the palate instead of slapping it. Delicate, subtle and gentle beers. Being subtle and gentle is all about caring for the details of every gesture, word and... beer recipe, in stark contrast with the rough superficiality of brutality.
Gentleness, details and fatherhood are key words to understand Isaac Baladin and get the personality of a beer that, in the meantime, has come of age. The original Blanche from Piozzo was created 22 years ago, immediately after the birth of Teo’s first son: Isaac. Of course, the beer is dedicated to him. In 2019, it has become a 100% Italian beer, made exclusively with Italian ingredients.
Building on the tradition of Witbier, the basis for the recipe comes from the Flanders in Belgium, the country that has always inspired Teo Musso’s beers. However, as a man from the Langhe who is irresistibly attracted by the smell of the sea, he just had to add an undeniable Mediterranean touch.
The details caress us and often grasp our attention: the shellac around the neck of the bottle and the cork may come a surprise in a beer with a rather low alcohol content, but elegance and preciousness are not necessarily linked to the alcohol strength.
The sense of hearing is often overlooked when tasting a beer, but in this case the joyful snap heard when opening the bottle and the crackling of the head are important details that reveal Isaac's vivacious fizziness.
Looking at the glass, the white, pure, fine and fizzy head makes us think of the Mare Nostrum foam, kissed by the summer sun. We might even imagine that Aphrodite is being born again from this white layer to toast with us.
Isaac has a straw-yellow color and is markedly hazy, like any Blanche worthy of its name. This light veil, once again, stimulates the imagination and the desire to drink it.
Bringing the glass to the nose, Isaac immediately releases fragrant citrusy scents. The initial bergamot gives way to notes of ripe lemon zest and Tarocco oranges, to then fade into an intense scent of orange blossoms.
This flowery character is followed by a second wave of aromas, which rises after a few seconds and is reminiscent of almond milk and horchata from Valencia: a landscape with colorful houses, dry-stone walls and the sound of cicadas immediately springs to mind.
It could be Ventotene, Costa de la Luz or Ulcinj Bay, in the last strip of Montenegro: the same colors and scents which, across the waves of the Mediterranean, know no borders.
A few more seconds, the temperature rises slightly and the bouquet released by Isaac changes once again, revealing a spicy character with touches of coriander seeds, white pepper and tomato leaves. The Belgian origin of the yeast comes out, but only after the sunny citrusy explosion which makes this Blanche by Baladin stand out from more classic examples of the same style.
The time has finally come to bring the glass to our lips. First, they are tickled by fine, but very distinct bubbles, and then caressed by a runny body, perfect for a beer style that is supposed to be easy to drink. Still, it is not weak at all: the sugary profile is quite hefty, a common feature of Baladin beers. In this case, the sweet component presents notes of orange, vanilla, apricot juice and ripe medlars, supported by the typical smoothness of wheat, with its classic silky texture.
Again, after a few moments the initial citrusy and fruity character gives way to warmer tastes of almond paste, orgeat syrup and blancmange.
The sweetness is balanced by a gentle acidic, citric touch felt at the sides of the tongue, which makes this beer even easier to drink, while the powerful aromas of zest come back to refresh the palate. The finish is neat and clean, with virtually no bitterness. Hops, however, work in the shade and close the sip with a perfect balance.
The light aftersmell, once again, brings us to the Mediterranean, with new scents of vanilla and almond milk.
With every sip, Baladin Isaac tells a different story. Plots from the Flanders and the Mediterranean intertwine and unfold between reality and legend.