Article by Simonmattia Riva, Biersommelier
Life is like chocolate: it’s the bitterness that makes you appreciate the sweetness.
French writer and food lover Xavier Brébion’s quotation is perfect to describe beer: without a balancing note of bitterness, sweetness loses its intriguing and attractive nature, as well as its original advantage - it is the first taste that babies like - and becomes cloying.
The origin of Baladin Super Bitter
Building a beer recipe is a balancing act.
Creating variations of an iconic and successful formula takes a good amount of courage, and the ability to walk on a tightrope. In 2011, the entire world of craft beer was riding the growing wave of citrus and tropical flavors released by American and Oceanic hops. Baladin - that has the taste for all things exotic in its DNA - decided to give the scents of the green cones from overseas and their muscular bitterness to Super, one of the first beers ever created in Piozzo.
Now a teenager, as it has been on the market for fourteen years, Super is characterized by a distinctive sweetness and the aromas of dried fruit and toffee. Completely changing its center of gravity and its balance of tastes and aromas would probably have felt too extreme to many. But not to Teo Musso.
Let’s open a Baladin Super Bitter together
Super Bitter comes in a bottle with a metal crown cap. The absence of the shellac and cork that seal the bottle of its “parent” beer immediately signal that Super Bitter is suited to more casual and easier drinking.
Opened and poured into a snifter or a tulip - the best glasses to release its rich kaleidoscope of aromas and taste - it has a deep amber color with vibrant orange and copper hues that make us think of a warm sunset in a Mediterranean country.
The slight haziness comes from the fact that it has not been filtered, and from the cold dry hopping technique, i.e. the addition of hops during the secondary fermentation. This ensures that all the aromatic richness of the female buds of the green climbing plant are transferred to the beer. The foamy head on the surface is ivory colored and extremely fine. It is thick and persistent, thanks to the essential oils of hops.
The bouquet is complex, sinuous and multifaceted. The initial citrus aromas, with hints of tangerine zest and ripe pink grapefruit, are accompanied by a balsamic note with touches of pine resin, cypress berries and lily of the valley The citrus and woody notes - due to the heavy use of hops - are elegantly counterbalanced by the warm notes of the malts and esters, the aromatic compounds released by the fermentation process: dry apricot, ripe medlar and flat peach emerge against a background of orange blossom and linden honey, whose balsamic note echoes the scents that come from the hops. The synergy between these two families of aromas is reminiscent of a croissant that has just come out of the oven and is filled with home-made orange or tangerine marmalade.
Once the precious amber liquid becomes a little warmer, things change again: notes of ripe cantaloupe melon, dates, gentian and petrichor, followed by hints of Jamaican pepper and a unique touch of strawberry candy, the result of the Belgian strain of yeast used in this beer.
Tasting a Baladin Super Bitter
When sipped, Super Bitter reveals a subtle yet lively and perceptible carbonation and a medium round body, with significant residual sugar. The first taste that envelops the tongue is sweetness, with notes of ripe apricot and cantaloupe melon, peaches in syrup and linden honey which, on the middle palate, blends its balsamic notes with touches of caramelized sugar and candied orange zest. The moderately bitter finish is characterized by hints of tangerine, pink grapefruit and especially ripe blood orange. The same aromas come back in the after-smell, where they are complemented, once again, by medlar and melon.
The bitter-sweet balance of Super Bitter is reminiscent of a refreshing light rain that hits the soil after a long, sunny summer afternoon in the hills.