A Beer for Dante


Inferno, another word for Hell; a good name for a beer? Perhaps as an adjective; hellish good or if you’re American, Hell Good. I’ll stick with Dante’s 14th. Century vision and the then current perception of Hell as a massive funnel boring into the center of the earth and divided into nine levels of sin and try and place the beer somewhere there.

The conical funnel apparently owed its origin to Lucifer’s high speed fall from heaven and subsequent impact with the Earth. According to the tale, before Hell really starts there’s a sort of waiting room for believers who did niether good nor evil during their lives and at the beginning of Hell proper a not unpleasant first level for the ‘good non believers’ .

After that it becomes increasingly nasty with each subsequent stage:- lust; gluttony; greed; anger; heresy; violence; fraud and treachery So watch out!

Inferno, the beer , hellishly good or ……. damned for eternity?

Annick De Splenter came from a beer background; both sides of her family were involved with brewing, so it was no great surprise when she established the small Gruut City Brewery in Ghent in April 2009. The name Gruut not only relates to the large coin in circulation during the reign of Charles V in Ghent but also to the fact that four of the beers brewed are with gruut ( a mixture of herbs and spices used in place of hops as was common in the French controlled part of Gent in the Middle Ages.). Inferno is the exception, being lightly hopped.

Poured into the glass it has a golden colour and the good carbonation makes for a striking white head, which sadly disappears pretty quickly. The aroma is fairly neutral; hints of floral hops, herbs and hay. The first taste to come through is a banana sweetness but this quickly mellows in the direction of ripe peach with a shot of citrus and an increasing spice and bitter profile. A good carbonation and warming alcohol (9.0 % vol.) hold it all together and lead into a mild spicy finish.

Overall a good beer which, in style, lies somewhere between a truly hellish beer; Duvel, and a classic triple such as Karmeliet, so on this basis I’ll place it in the vestibule at the entrance of Hell.

Try it should you get there.