Classical Beer Review: Cornelia Wit

Two weeks ago, I did a Classically-themed beer run at my local supermarket chain and reviewed the first of the ‘supermarket series’. It is, therefore, apt that I continue the series with a brew by the supermarket’s own beer brand of Cornelius and Cornelia beers!

The first of the Cornelius and Cornelia beers were brewed by Jopen in Haarlem for Deen supermarkten. The beers are named after the founders of the chain, Cor and Corry Deen, whose portraits adorn the label. The ‘Dark’ was named Cornelius (after Cor) and the ‘Blonde’ was named Cornelia (after Corry). Subsequently, other Cornelius and Cornelia varieties appeared in Deen. I assume that these are also brewed by Jopen, although the label does not specify (see below).


Cornelia Wit Label


For today, I decided to go for the Cornelia Wit, because spring is upon us and I was craving something refreshing and light. I was not disappointed! Cornelia Wit has a strong apple smell but tastes more like the typical banana bread flavor one expects of a witbier. Its finish is rusty or, in the words of my former roommate, somewhat ‘sharp.’ This rusty sharpness is something I have frequently encountered in the style in the past so it’s probably a ‘normal’ flavor that deserves a better description than my limited beer-tasting vocabulary can offer. Overall, Cornelia Wit is a solid witbier that exceeds by far what I would have expected from a beer commissioned by a supermarket (no offense), but it certainly fits well with the quality I know from Jopen!

In ancient Rome, Cornelia was the name of a renowned ‘gens’ or family. The name likely derives from the Latin ‘cognomen’ or nickname ‘Corneus’ which means ‘horny’ in the sense of having a thick skin.  Male members of the gens Cornelia frequently held high political and military positions in the Roman Republic. They can be identified as members of the Cornelii due to the particular structure of Roman names.

Men in Rome were given a first name (praenomen), followed by their nomen (the gens name) and a nickname (cognomen), which often denoted a specific branch of the larger gens. As men, they were often given the male version of their gens name – in the case of the gens Cornelia that would be Cornelius. For example, the full name of the 1st century BC Roman general and dictator Sulla is Lucius Cornelius Sulla – a member of the gens Cornelia.

Women were also given a praenomen, but this practice was gradually ignored. Instead, a Roman woman were known merely by their nomen or by their nomen plus cognomen. In the case of the gens Cornelia, therefore, most women were simply called ‘Cornelia.’

An important female member of the Cornelii was Cornelia Africana, the second daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (the general who defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War) and mother of the Gracchi (two Roman politicians who tried to pass land reforms but were assassinated because they were getting too successful in uprooting the system). Cornelia Africana was greatly respected during her lifetime and afterward. She was skilled in rhetoric and highly educated in literature, Latin, and Greek. She was also portrayed as a loyal wife and mother – the epitome of virtue. After Cornelia Africana died, a statue was erected in her honor which only the base now remains.

33 cl
5.5% ABV
Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat malt, wheat, hop, yeast, spices
Brewed by: (presumably) Jopen BV, Haarlem, The Netherlands



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