Lord Chambray organised the first ever Craft Beer masterclass in Malta in collaboration with Lorenzo Dabove, one of the world’s renowned craft beer experts who is considered as one of the most important expert on Belgian beers and who is known worldwide for promoting lambic beers and craft beers.
We attended this masterclass in Malta a few weeks ago. Dabove said that the craft beer revolution, that had swept through the United States to Italy and many other countries has now reached Malta. “Lord Chambray is the southernmost craft brewery in Europe. We can now say that there are craft breweries from the Lapland to Malta”.
There are now over 1,000 micro breweries in Italy, 3,000 in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in the United States.
The tasting started with a wheat beer or White Beer, the Blue Lagoon. Wheat beer originated from the Belgian village of Hoegaarden and has been made since the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, the village had 13 breweries and 9 distilleries. In 1957, the last local white beer brewery closed its doors. Pierre Celis, a milkman decided some 10 years later to try to revive the style. The Blue Lagoon is made with barley and malt and uses a generous amount of unmalted wheat. The other two ingredients are Gozo coriander and orange peel. Dabove, who likes to pair beer with food said that this beer pairs well with vegetables, soft cheese and salads.
The second beer we tasted was the Golden Bay. Dabove explained that foam is very important in 90% of beer. It is the foam that allows the flavours and the aromas to remain there and also prevents oxidation. He said that there is no relationship between colour and the strength of the alcohol. With this beer, you get notes of toffee and caramel and also bitter notes. He said that this beer could be paired with white meats like veal, rabbit, turkey and chicken.
The third beer was the special bitter, which is a traditional British ale which is light but bitter. This is the first beer that has been exported by Lord Chambray and was the first time that this beer was tasted in Malta. This bitter ale has a medium body and a moderate carbonation that guarantees that the beer is easy to drink. Hops is added during maturation to increase the bitterness of the beer.
The San Blas beer showed notes of honey and citrus fruit and Dabove recommended pairing it with Sunday roast, lamb, pork and more mature cheese.
We finished the tasting with the fifth beer in Lord Chambray’s line-up, the Fungus Rock. It is a dry stout which uses the Gozitan water. Four different types of malts are used to make this beer and the roasted malt gives the beer its dark colour. It has a certain smokiness and has notes of dried fruit, chocolate and coffee. Dabove said it pairs well with oysters and clams but would also work well with blue cheese or gorgonzola.
The Italian beer master said that you could also use it to make a ‘birramisu’ i.e. a tiramisu using a stout instead of coffee.
Dabove will return to Malta in November to present a dinner featuring beer vs wine. “I will come with a renowned wine sommelier and each course will be paired with either a beer or a wine. The sommelier and I will have two minutes to convince the guests whether to drink wine or beer and we will taste them together with the food and see which one works better.”
Lord Chambray is the craft brewery in the Maltese islands and it is the creation of Samuele D’Imperio, the managing director. An Italian, he had been visiting Malta and Gozo for many years before his family decided to invest to make craft beers in Gozo.
The brewery made its first brews in June 2014 and will launch a new 6th beer in June using some ingredients that come from Gozo. No details have been released yet but Samuele said this will be a unique beer in the world and 50 per cent of the ingredients will be sourced locally.
“The challenge for us is to be able to use local ingredients,” he said.
The craft brewery can be found on the island of Gozo. Visitors can visit the brewery from Monday to Saturday.