Damm good: Tasting Inedit, the world's classiest $24 beer at Samba Grille
As a student in Barcelona, it was something of a joke. Estrella Damm was the bland, ubiquitous hometown beer, and the slogan "Damm: The beer of Barcelona" was more correct than they knew.
It's not that Estrella Damm was terrible (it's OK, and certainly better than lots of the American beer I was drinking in college), but it certainly wasn't world class.
So I was full of curiosity when I found out that Damm partnered with Ferran Adrià of the world-renowned El Bulli to create Inedit, a dramatically different kind of beer. And thrilled to find it on the menu at Samba Grille — even at the doubletake-inducing price of $24 for a two-serving bottle.
According to the Samba wine director Marc Borel, Inedit came about because Adrià, generally recognized as the world's most inventive and influential chef, wanted to make the ultimate beer to pair with food — one seen with the flavor complexity and quality of wine. Adría's guidelines for serving Inedit are strict — it must only be sold in 750 ml wine bottles, it must be brought to the table with an ice bucket, and should be consumed from white wine glasses to maximize aeration and flavors on the palate.
Borel calls Inedit a pilsner, but it has a cloudiness and a slight heft that makes it in some ways more similar to a Belgian wheat beer. Paired with Samba's sunfish tacos del sol, the citrus flavors really shined and it had a light, slightly sweet aftertaste that was incredibly refreshing. Grilled asparagus brought out more of the spicy coriander notes, and when enjoyed with Samba's prime beef tenderloin steak, Inedit seemed to subtly shift to let the wheat flavors lead, becoming more of a palate cleanser.
It's that versatility that Adrià and El Bulli sommeliers Ferran Centelles and David Seijas spent two years developing. This isn't a beer that's going to bowl you over with a distinct personality (maybe that's why the enthusiasts at Beer Advocate awarded it only a B grade) — it's meant to bend, to complement, and to let the food be the star.
I thought it was excellent, and not just because of all the fancy bells and whistles. Whether it was the bottle, the glassware or the brew, the citrus notes and clean finish really worked, and it would be hard to beat Inedit with a light lunch on a sunny day. It might not be the revolution the name implies (Inedit is Catalan for "never been done before"), but it's certainly a world away from the Estrella Damm I knew — and for the better.
What do you think? Is this just beer hype or are you enamoured with the idea of trying Inedit?