The Cherry Garden
Recently, in one of my articles I wrote that “In Israel there are two main seasons: summer and waiting for the end of summer. This is not entirely true, I had to admit. Autumn in Israel happens, of course, but it’s a different kind of autumn from the European one.
Today, for the first time, it was overcast, with light clouds on the horizon. The weather forecasters even promised some rain, but it passed by. I suddenly feel sad for the passing summer and wanted to return it, at least a part of it… I looked in my beer “library”, and there was a bottle of cherry Mikkeller Spontan Cherry (Frederiksdal) 2020, recently bought from Shahar.
Mikkeller beer is a classic example of how the love of beer changes our lives dramatically. So, a young Danish mathematics and physics teacher, Borg Mikkel, like most of his buddies, treated beer as a way to get drunk at parties with friends, and the cheaper, the better. That lasted until the future teacher got a job in a bar, where he was introduced to the classics of the styles – Chimay and Hoegaarden. After that there was a beer club with regular tastings and finally Borg brewed his first beer in a small kitchen.
Gradually, the teaching changed smoothly into brewing. And the name Mikkeller became synonymous with experimentation and innovation. It became associated with unusual, non-standard beer. So, when I saw a bottle of cherry sour ale on the shelf, I immediately bought it, “for later”. And so that day came.
This Lambic-style sour ale is brewed from Frederiksdal cherries, which grow on the island of Lolland, in the very south of Denmark. After fermentation, it’s left to ferment in oak barrels.
The bottle was corked with a plastic champagne cork. It was pretty tight, too-I had a hard time opening it. When I filled the glass just halfway, I could smell the aroma of ripe cherries that filled the room. The dark burgundy color of the beer was very reminiscent of freshly squeezed cherry juice. The foam is low and there is almost no gas. The cherry was everywhere in this beer: in the color, the aroma, the flavor, the aftertaste. It fills you completely! Only after the beer had been standing and breathing for a while, I began to feel the tannins and slight woody notes, which appeared due to aging in oak barrels.
Extraordinarily rich cherry flavor with a strong acidity accompanies you in a long pleasant aftertaste. With time it weakens a little, but does not disappear for good. Quite high alcohol (6.8% ABV) is hardly perceptible, it just sinks in a riot of cherry flavors and aromas.
At first, I served a slightly sweet Tel-a-Emek cheese with the Mikkeller Spontan Cherry, but it failed and just got lost in the taste of the beer. I had to get the Bresse Bleu out of the fridge. Its fatness neutralized the strong sourness of the beer and formed a perfect duet.
Real cherries are rare in Israel, especially in the South. It was all the more pleasant to find an entire cherry garden in my beer glass.