Recently I finally made a trip again to my local beer store, Bierderij Waterland. Since my last visit, a new, young beer enthusiast named Neal had replaced as shop keeper the owners of the brewery – they became too busy with their exciting plans for the Bierderij. Neal was extremely helpful in trying to find me some Classically-themed beers, but my first #beerhaul came up short Classics-wise and I had to console myself with awesome collaboration brews (e.g. Uiltje and Põhjala collab; De Molen and Jopen collab) and non-Classical historic ales (Princessebier, Kuit). Fortunately, though, Neal was already in the process of ordering some exciting beers by Spanish and Portuguese craft breweries, and behold, one of them bore the mellifluous Latin name In Peccatum.
As soon as the In Peccatum beers were available, I immediately rushed to the beer store with the intent of purchasing the Necromance of Bloody Malts. Of course, I couldn’t contain myself and also bought two other In Peccatum beers. These I hope to review some other time. Today I stick with my original plan to review Necromance of Bloody Malts (NoBM), which I tried on the first Sunday we had BBQ weather in the Netherlands!
NoBM is described on the label (see images above and below) as a ‘Spanish Strong Ale.’ At almost 8% ABV, the brew is indeed on the stronger side. The beer has a foxy brown to reddish color and smells very sweet. Upon drinking, I get a combination of rusty and red fruit notes, with a boozy finish that really gives a kick. The combination of foxy brown to reddish color and the rust and red fruits flavors funnily enough almost remind one of the taste of blood – appropriate for a brew that is supposed to involve bloody malts!
In Latin, “in peccatum” could mean both “in sin” and “in error.” In this interview, the brewer clearly refers to this first meaning when he states: “In Peccatum means all those things that you wish but are mostly sinful, and transferred to beer, all those styles which are bizarre and unusual.” Their NoBM is unusual indeed. Not only because of its style and flavor, but also because of its name, “necromance,” which is a rarer version of the more commonly used “necromancy.”
In today’s usage, necromance or necromancy refers to various acts of dark sorcery or witchcraft, particularly those involving communicating with or raising the dead. The word originates from ancient Greek and combines “nekros” (dead) and “manteia” (divination). The literal translation thus is “divining of the dead.”
According to ancient Greek sources, a temple devoted to necromancy was located in Epirus, known as the Nekromanteion or “Oracle of the Dead.” This temple was believed to be the site of one of the gates of the Greek underworld and was dedicated to the god of the underworld, Hades, and his wife Persephone. At the Nekromanteion, worshippers would come to talk to deceased ancestors, because it was believed that they could foretell the future. It is assumed that Homer describes the site of the Nekromanteion when he has Odysseus go down to the underworld to meet with the prophet Teiresias in order to learn about his fate.
In 1958, an archaeological site was discovered in the Acheron plain in Epirus that matched descriptions of the Nekromanteion in the ancient Greek sources. Although this identification has since been disputed, the site is still presented today to visitors as the Nekromanteion. In fact, Kyle even had the fortune of visiting it a few years ago with the American School of Classical Studies in Athens! While they had a lot of fun during their trip, he assures me the ASCSA students did not make enough noise to… raise the dead…
33 cl bottle
Ingredients: water, barley malt, hops, sugar, and yeast. Bottle conditioned.
Brewed by: In Peccatum Craft Beer, Ourense, Spain.