Classical Beer Review: Oedipus Mannenliefde

This is a post by regular contributor Kimberley, who runs the social media at BCS. Kimberley is currently writing up her PhD in Mediterranean Archaeology and is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Every once and a while, she will blog at BCS about all things beer and Classical in the Low Countries or – as I’d like to call it – ‘The Nether Regions’.

New Mannenliefde label by Oedipus (the beer I sampled still sported the old label).

A while ago, BCS asked our followers on social media, as well as members of the Dutch Facebook group Beer Geeks, about their favorite Classically-themed beers. We assembled a nice list of brews to try with this week’s selection the first on this list: Oedipus’ Mannenliefde – suggested by Maarten van Vliet. Cheers Maarten and thanks for your input!

Mannenliefde is Oedipus’ first beer. It is a Saison that is sour in the nose but does not taste very tangy. The brew is light and refreshing with subtle hints of citrus, probably from the added lemon grass. Mannenliefde also contains Szechuan pepper, but – admittedly – I did not pick up on that. The hops used are of the fruity Sorachi Ace variety.

Mannenliefde means ‘men-love’ in Dutch. As an archaeologist of ancient Greece, my gut reaction was to assume that this name was chosen to correlate with the brewery’s name, Oedipus, and to continue the ‘ancient Greek theme’ so to speak. This might require some explanation: If you read ‘men-love’ as a reference to homosexuality, the beer’s name could refer to  certain forms of homosexuality that were accepted in ancient Greece as part of the ‘education’ of young men by older ‘mentors’. This is known as ‘pederasty’ or ‘boy-love’, a term not too far removed from ‘men-love’. As it turns out, this link to the beer has no basis in reality. As the guys behind Oedipus explain, ‘mannenliefde’ refers to them as men who love everything. “Love for each other, love for brewing and a serious love for sharing our beer with everyone.”

Intriguingly, one might argue that the myth of Oedipus is about the exact opposite of ‘mannenliefde’. In a previous post on the brewery and their Kimchi festival, I already summarized some of the main features of the Oedipus myth. The key event in the story is Oedipus’s killing of his father, king Laius, without Oedipus knowing the identity of his victim. This murder was essentially an early instance of road rage – Oedipus and his father argue about who has the right of way on a major crossroads and one  ends up dead. In the aftermath of this part of Oedipus’s story, we encounter more ‘non-mannenliefde’. Oedipus’ two sons (and brothers BTW, because his wife was also his mother) fight over the throne and eventually kill each other. A third example is found in the backstory to the Oedipus myth. According to the playwright Euripides, the unfortunate series of events that plague Oedipus’s family was the result of a curse that his father had called upon himself after he kidnapped and violated one of his students. This was not considered acceptable within the system of pederasty. It was particularly vile, in fact, because it happened while king Laius was a guest in the household of the victim’s father. So, really, the story of Oedipus has nothing to do with men who love but rather with men who commit acts of violence. Way to put a negative spin on such a positive name, Kimberley!

0.33 Liters
6.0% ABV
Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops, lemon grass, Szechuan pepper, yeast
Brewed: Oedipus Brewing, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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