Beer sellers: Beermania
Nasser Eftekhari had been tasting, discussing and selling specialist Belgian beer in his comprehensive Beermania beer shop in Brussels for over 20 years when he commissioned his first own label brand in 2007. He was therefore well placed to know what would work with his customers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he went for a blond medium strength very broadly abbey style beer. Its Latin name – Mea Culpa meaning ‘my fault’, a reference to a confession of sinfulness in the Roman mass – manages to evoke both monasticism and the sense of self-indulgent wickedness normally exploited in Belgium in branding stronger golden ales
The result is distinctive and unusual and doesn’t taste quite like any other beer. Some of this is due to the use of 10 different spices in a secret blend. Also supposed to be secret was the beer’s actual brewer, although this has since been leaked as Van Steenberge, the East Flanders brewery known for Gulden Draak and Bios brown ales as well as a long list of contract and own label brands.
This cloudy blond beer has a thick white head and a slightly sourish aroma with complex spice, pale malt and vanilla notes. The palate is softly malty and apple-fresh with some phenols and subtle spicing with seed and herby notes. The finishes manages to be both drying and quenching with citrus, more vanilla and a late herbal touch. It won’t knock you down as an undiscovered classic, but it’s nonetheless a smooth, tasty and very drinkable beer with enough quirkiness to claim its own identity.
Nasser also put a lot of work into developing the beer’s own glass, a spectacular swan-necked creation in Bohemian crystal specially made in the Czech Republic. This rivals the Pauwel Kwak stirrup glass as Belgium’s most distinctive beer glass, but unlike the latter it’s a thing of beauty and elegance that doesn’t make you feel an idiot for drinking from it.
Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/beermania-mea-culpa/60038/