As our transatlantic stash of Classically-themed beers is dwindling swiftly, I headed over to my local supermarket to see if – through some miracle – they would have the sought-after goods. While the supermarket has recently turned into somewhat of a craft-beer Olympus (sorry, no Walhalla, need to keep to the theme), it still came as a surprise to me that I managed to score not one but no less than four Classically-themed tipples! These will all soon be submitted to close scrutiny for a series of beer reviews by yours truly, which kicks off today with Plato 18.25.
Plato 18.25 is an Imperial Lager by Gulpener Bierbrouwerij. At 8.25% ABV, it definitely has a kick to it that is worthy of the ‘imperial’ designation. Yet, despite this kick, the tipple is surprisingly refreshing and drinkable! Plato 18.25 has a straw-yellow color and is unfiltered and dry-hopped for extra flavor. The bitterness and floral notes of the hops shine – even though I suspect that I had the beer when it was already old. Its hop-forward flavor makes this beer much more interesting than a standard lager or pilsner. Although I should note that Gulpener’s premium pilsner – Château Neubourg – recently won gold at the Dutch beer challenge in the pilsner category and was listed by Esquire among the top 7 best beers in the Netherlands.
As the label of the beer conveniently explains, Plato 18.25 refers to the Plato scale used in brewing to measure the sugar content of the wort. This scale was developed by chemist Fritz Plato, hence the name. In honor of their foundation year 1825, the brewers at Gulpener made a beer at 18.25 degrees Plato. In the words of the brewery: “[t]his beer, therefore, has nothing to do with the Greek philosopher Plato, although the link between one of the greatest Greek freethinkers and the Free Brewer can be made relatively quickly.”
This statement is all the excuse we need at BCS to talk some Plato. But first, I should clarify what Gulpener means when they call themselves ‘The Free Brewer’ (or De Vrije Brouwer in Dutch). According to this website, the brewery styles itself as ‘free’ because they are an independent family-owned company and are thus ‘free’ to go their own way and free to do what feels right. Sounds like a great company! Now back to our man Plato.
Plato was born either in 428/427 or 424/423 BC and died around 348 BC. He founded the Academy of Athens and is considered a foundational figure in western philosophical tradition. Besides being a great thinker in his own right, Plato was also the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle – two other great minds.
Plato’s philosophy is best captured in his famous Allegory of the Cave, which argues that what we see with our eyes is not the real world but only an indirect reference to it, the way in which objects depicting things in the real world would cast shadows on the wall of a fire-lit cave. Once we are freed from the shackles that keep us bound to this cave and would be able to go outside into the sun, we would be able to understand the true nature of the world. If this rings a bell, it could be because movies like The Matrix and the Truman Show are said to be inspired by Plato’s Cave. Besides his Cave, another famous story by Plato is the story of Atlantis. This, however, is probably best saved for some other time, when I get my hands on a brew like Atlantis by Rising Tide, Atlantis Ale by Bahamian Brewery and Beverage, or the Atlantis Gose collab by Freigeist Bierkultur and Stillwater Artisanal Ales. To be continued!
Ingredients: water, barley malt, hop yeast. Brewed with resources from Limburg.
Brewed by: Gulpener Bierbrouwerij, Gulpen, The Netherlands.