At Home #2 - Seasonal beer


One of the brands you will easily find everytime in my fridge is Cervesa del Montseny, currently the oldest operating microbrewery in Catalonia*. If there is one thing I always highlight about them is the great adaptability they have shown, which has not only allowed them to survive these years in a highly dynamic scene with an initial approach that would not be valid today, but has allowed them to be among the most respected breweries thanks to the reliability of their products. Many of them aim for a certain wide reach of palates, but they also have a line of canned beers and collaborations with highly popular craft breweries to satisfy the most inquisitive consumers.


'Seasonal beers seem to have lost their appeal as a product with limited availability, due to the avalanche of weekly releases'


Montseny HivernAle

In recent months, even before confinement, I have been enjoying HivernAle with some recurrence, being a recipe with a history of more than 12 years. A Winter Ale, a pioneer in the introduction of seasonal offerings in our scene, which despite having a remarkably English character incorporates a distinctive element that I seem to associate more with the Belgian tradition: star anise.

The beer is copper to brown in colour, clear but not crystalline, with medium-lasting beige foam. Aromatically it stays away from current trends, presenting a great richness of malty hints very well matched with the slightly balsamic freshness of the anise and the by-products of fermentation. The aromas of dark caramel, toffee, chocolate, raisins, pastries, candied fruit or plums give a sensation of sweetness to the whole, that is perfectly compensated by bitterness and spice. Slightly warm and medium-bodied, it lasts after swallowing with the notes of anise, and it leaves me wondering whether I have been eating after-eight chocolates or not.

In its first batches -more than a decade ago- star anise took on a sometimes excessive role; something that with time has been offset to find a very well-balanced beer in all its flanks, ideal for the winter months without resorting to high ABV levels. At 7.2% ABV, it leaves several options when choosing the glass, although my recommendation would be that dismiss those that are excessively open, because part of the show is capturing the good range of aromas that the beer is offering us. Fresh is great, but if you are the patient kind 1 year of aging will give it an extra layer.


Montseny Florale

My experiences in confinement will be told in many different ways, but in terms of beer, Florale will undoubtedly be one of the protagonists of my family seclusion due to the number of bottles that have been emptied thanks to a joint effort with my missus. Commemorative of the 10th anniversary of the brewery, it is an amber Saison of average alcoholic strength -6.2% ABV-, which includes hibiscus and rose petals as additional ingredients. Its peculiarity, as a seasonal, is that it is only available during spring, probably the most often overlooked season if we talk about beer.

It has a slight degree of turbidity, bright intense amber tones, and it is classily crowned with lasting white foam. On the nose fruity aromas stand out, especially reminiscent of peach, orange, tangerine, with light touches of banana and grape. A background of toast and freshly baked muffins appears, with a soft omnipresence of flowers and spice that widens the nose and refreshes the palate. Very tasty, although not intense, with live carbonation and a dry finish, but to a lesser extent than in most classic examples of the style.

The obvious association between flowers and the first season of the year, in conjunction with a fresh yet not light profile, makes it an ideal beer for this period. Although I must admit that I would not mind having it all year: I suppose that I like Saisons, and that I miss finding many more of them among all the Pale Ales out there. In addition, it is a grateful style to produce, being also attractive for a wide variety of palates for its combination of a general sweet sensation with a good level of attenuation and dryness.

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I remember how 10 years ago, at a time when one-offs and limited editions were not the norm but the exception, there was great excitement among the -few- local craft beer aficionados when seasonal beers -such as the previously reviewed- were available. The same emotion that, once evolved, I suppose has led to a scenario in which seasonal beers seem to have lost their appeal as a product with limited availability, in the face of the avalanche of weekly releases in which we live, being left only with the fact of pairing well with the context of a yearly season -if, like in the present post, it is not just a mere marketing resource-.

However, I want to claim the incentive and impulse to consumption that I personally feel when I find in seasonal beers such as the ones from Montseny, including their delicious Estival and Castanya -summer and autumn seasonals respectively-. Their value for money, the ease in obtaining them and the good work of the brewers, which allows us to find these beers in good condition even in supermarkets, in addition to the feeling that I will only be able to get them during 2 or 3 months -which, by the way, it is proof to the consumer of its degree of freshness- is just plainly irresistible. To my obsession with core range beers, which embody the evolution and perfection of a recipe, we can attach this other one: there is a lack of seasonal beers.

And before saying goodbye, just a reminder that you can contact Cervesa del Montseny through social networks to acquire their 'survival boxes'. In addition, you can follow this link to find the closest seeling points, although if you live in this part of the world you can easily find these and more beers of their range in different shops and supermarkets.


Salut i birra!


* This is, counting from the release date of their first batch -June 2007-, and if we differentiate brewpubs from microbreweries. Otherwise, La Cervesera Artesana would be the oldest.

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