Creating a beer to match a collection of masterpieces spanning four centuries is no small feat. But inspiration can come from the most surprising places.
In a room of show-stoppers the brewers found themselves drawn to a couple of the quiet achievers. An old woman cooking eggs shows a common tavern basement scene. We learn that the artist Diego Velázquez often sought to elevate the everyday in his paintings.
In one of the more diminutive works – An interior with a young viola player by Gerrit Dou – the brewers were drawn to the colours, the dramatic play of light, the melancholy mood of the work and the ‘lovesick’ theme. This was the starting point for the beer.
At the heart of this brew is a blend of specialty crystal malts. Biscuit and toffee malts play their part, along with Manuka smoked malt for a gentle smokiness (think peat, not ashtray) and rye for a little spice. The resulting brew has a smooth, balanced sweet maltiness with a touch of oak while the earthy, spicy hops play second fiddle. In the glass, the warm red colour hints at the young viola player’s lovesickness. It makes us think of lived-in rooms and worn-out taverns; it’s a beer to keep you company.
Of course, honouring a collection of masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, it had to be a Scottish Ale. And thanks to Velázquez, we’re borrowing his idea of ‘elevating the everyday’: A humble beer inspired by The Greats.
Old Master: now pouring at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and select venues.