Go the extra mile …
… to get the best ingredients. That is what we do at Alvinne. Here’s a story by Thomas Faveri, a good friend and huge fan of our brewery. The road to a new beer, Cuvée de Mortagne Piment d’Espelette … part one, the peppers
The idea of using the Piment d’Espelette with beer came around a good bottle, while visiting my friend Glenn, at the Brewery. Chef, gourmets and lovers of french cuisine knows the Piment d’Espelette. It’s a quite mild (1500 – 2500 on the Scoville scale) and aromatic pepper, grown in the French basque country. The piment d’Espelette got an AOC – AOP (Appellation d’Origine Controlée – Protégée) wich means it must grow in a limited area (10 villages around Espelette) and in a certain way : No chimical treatment, watering is stricly controlled as well as the way it is harvested, dried and conditioned.
I live just next to the Piment d’Espelette area. So I asked one of my friend’s friend who grow some if I could pick-up the equivalent of 4kg of dried piment in his field. What I didn’t know was that piment are like us, as in they contain 90% of water. So I Had to pick up 30 kg to get 4 kg at the end !!!
Summer had been very sunny , with a perfect amount of rain. So on a late July morning, I show up with a huge bucket somewhere between Halsou and Jatxou, in a lovely place, surrounded with hills. Plants are 80cm high, with green and red peppers. Of course, the red ones are ready to be harvested , the greens needing more sun and heat. It took me about 4 hours through the alleys of green and red to pick up only the nicest peppers. I was happy to finish because the heat made this a though job to do. Time to clean those red beauties and go to the greenhouse to dry them. Traditionaly, the Piment d’Espelette is dried in grapes (handmade with strings) on the walls of houses. But to make beer, we would have had to « ungrape » manually. The greenhouse is much more adapted and let’s face it , drying on the facade is mainly fantastic for tourism and photos. I spread the peppers out on the shelves of the greenhouse to dry. I checked every couple of weeks if the Basque sun was doing it’s job. And it was!!! Perfectly dried after 3 weeks , it had turned the peppers from bright red to garnet, wonderful !!!
I had to leave thoses beauties to go to Moen, Belgium. There, they shall dive into a wonderful beer to spread the warm and spicy.